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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
 
But I do own a bag of caramel kisses and Troy Malfoy!

 
The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Seventeen--))
 
It's a Never Ending Story

 
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The realization that her life was now condemned, and there was no chance of release sudden swallowed her whole: there was no escape, there was no help, and there was no hope. Her helplessness was the only part of her that she could control, because Malfoy, this sullen prison, and the Dark Lord controlled everything else. Hermione no longer owned herself; she was a slave, and she knew it.

"When is this all going to end?" she sobbed desperately, saline dripping down her cheeks in a steady flow. He smiled sadly at her.

"I promise you, it will end soon enough."


October 28
Day 11

 
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Things hadn't been this tense between Ron and Harry since fourth year, but things had never been this dangerously fragile either. Icy looks were shot between them, and as much as Harry desperately needed his best friend back, he stayed away. Ron's anger could be justified, but Harry knew more then anything that the rash redhead was more than likely to make a scene with the newly established information and the rift between the two best mates.

Harry seemed to be drowning, or rather, suspended motionless in midair as the rest of the world spun around him; people blended into color and noise, and only a few precious faces stood out to him. Hermione, the most prevalent thought on his mind was also the most confusing: for the last few nights, her presence haunted Harry's slumber and pieced together mysteries no one could be sure of.

Because of this, Harry felt more alone than ever.

Of course everyone was still worried and distressed about her disappearance, but it seemed like the shell shock had worn off a tad; life continued on in the castle, with whispers of disbelief and hopeful thoughts for her return, but it seemed as if people were pushing it from their minds. Harry refused to forget her. Even if he wanted to, it was impossible; she seemed to be haunting him.

Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape had been absent since the day Harry revealed information to the Headmaster; the Order, unlike the castle, was still on high alert and doing everything they could to locate Hermione Granger. At least they still remember, Harry was constantly thinking to himself. He couldn't stand the idea of people forgetting her.

On a few rare occasions that were happening more and more frequently, a soothing presence calmed him whenever Ginny was around. He was becoming more and more aware of his attraction to Ron's little sister (who hadn't really looked like a little sister for quite a while) and the sickening guilt of Hermione's disappearance had stopped him from any sort of progress with Ginny.

After an exhausting night of forlorn thought and little to no sleep, Harry trudged down the common room stairs and sunk into the couch. He gazed into the fire, letting his mind slowly fill with sleep; he needed something, anything, to distract him from the depression he was falling into.

Ron was still on Harry-Hating mode, so it was rather clear that the Boy-Who-Lived would need to find other means of moral support, because this sort of pain and worry could not be kept inside.

He needed Ginny more than anything; just the thought of her countered his constant worrying with a blissful sort of feeling. The guilt that ate away at him for even wanting anything with Ginny now of all times was becoming unbearably sickening; Ginny was a painkiller, and he needed a much larger dosage.

Hermione would want me to be happy, Harry thought feebly to himself. But sure enough, the more he thought about it, the more he saw Hermione's beaming face encouraging him. So, as carefully as he could, Harry stalled time outside of the Gryffindor portrait, tying his shoe, then the other, and then leaned over the railing to pretend he was looking for someone. It was a long time before he even heard Ginny laughing.

The portrait swung open, and he caught the end of her laughter. “Yeah, yeah! And then she said, bloody hell I'm sorry! Ha! And he just walked away... Hello Harry!” Ginny chirped as soon as she saw him waiting awkwardly.

“Hello! Mind if I walk down with you?” he asked, trying to sound as pleasant and normal as possible (though it was in vain; his voice had surely raised an octave already).

“Not at all,” Ginny answered warmly, smiling.

It was admittedly uncomfortable as Ginny, Lavender and Parvati continued their giggly gossip about some boy in Ravenclaw, but Harry kept telling himself it was very worth it.

As they approached the great hall doors, the sounds and smells of breakfast enticing as ever, Harry tried to work up the nerve to pull Ginny aside.

Do it, Harry, just do it! Hermione's voice, more alive than ever, seemed to echo in his mind.

“Ginny, do you think I could talk to you for a tic?” Harry asked, rubbing the back of his neck and trying to cough subtly, as if to rid his body of nervousness. Ginny smiled, “Sure!” and parted from Lavender and Parvati, who seemed more giggly than ever.

Just as he was getting his wits about him, a sudden roar of noise came from within the great hall; Harry and Ginny, who had been looking at each other silently, glanced at the doors suspiciously before looking back at each other.

“So...” Ginny started slowly, smirking as if she knew where this conversation would eventually go. Harry now pulled at his collar nervously. His mouthed opened and shut a few times before he closed his eyes and groaned at himself aloud.

“Sorry, I just, erm...” Harry mumbled. Ginny gave him an encouraging smile, and suddenly, he felt better. “Do you—do you, I dunno, want to, err, be my—my girlfriend?”

“I would love to be your girlfriend, Harry,” Ginny responded calmly, as if agreeing that it was indeed cold outside. He released a heavy gulp of air he hadn't realized he had been holding, before laughing in relief.

“Don't know why that was so difficult,” Harry admitted honestly, and Ginny shrugged.

“It's like stage fright,” she said, taking his hand; “You get over it.”

Together they started into the great hall, fingers intertwined in a lovely warmth. Harry attempted to ignore the hundreds of thoughts rushing through his mind; mainly just how Ron would maim him for fancying his little sister and how awful it was to have someone else on his mind other than Hermione.

“Do you think Hermione would be happy with this?” Harry asked quietly; Ginny squeezed his fingers.

“Yes, I think she would be very happy with this,” Ginny answered. “Look, Harry, I understand that things are awfully sad right now, with Hermione missing and everything, but I know more than anything that she would want us to be determined and happy than miserable and moping around as we looked for her.” Harry considered her words thoughtfully, and nodded.

“You're right,” he answered.

“Well of course I'm right!” Her grin was contagious.

“Do you think Ron will be mad?”

“Oh yes.”

Breakfast was awaiting, and so the newly joined couple entered the great hall, discussing just how violently Ron would react. However, their pleasant moment was destroyed just as easily as it was created as they simultaneously spotted Draco Malfoy at the Slytherin table.

Rage like nothing else surged through Harry, electrifying him. The blinding fury took over his senses until he realized Ginny was trying to restrain him from sprinting to Malfoy. Ginny muttered something darkly under her breath and guided Harry forcibly to the Gryffindor table, pushing him into the seat before sitting down next to him. Harry noticed something immediately; every single Gryffindor was talking to the neighbor with looks of deep anger and disgust, frequently casting glares over their shoulder to a platinum blond across the hall. They clearly were not happy about Malfoy's return, Harry thought, and neither was he.

Harry observed Malfoy with daggers in his eyes. The Slytherin was sitting with his head propped up feebly, stirring the contents of his bowl, as if he were falling asleep. His normally nicely kept hair was askew and messed up like Harry's was, and he kept snapping at the people who were clearly badgering him with questions about his absence.

“I can't believe this,” Ginny hissed, glowering at Malfoy across the hall. “What is he doing here?”

"No idea," Harry growled, "But he isn't going to be here long. I won't let him.”

"I can't believe he came back! After everything that's been said! It's so stupid! Even for him!" Ginny exclaimed, picking up a fork and stabbing her breakfast angrily.

"Noticed, have you?" Dean asked darkly from a few seats down. Ron and Seamus were talking in low, vicious voices, undoubtedly about Malfoy.

"What is he doing?!" Harry burst out angrily. "Not after everything he's done! He should be in Azkaban!"

Breakfast was a sure sign that the rest of Harry's day would be downhill. For starters, he rarely saw Ginny in between classes, only catching a glimpse of her fiery hair in the hallways. Then, in Charms, Flitwick assigned Harry and Ron to be partners, which turned out to be an awful idea, for they nearly started dueling (but were threatened with detentions, so they stopped). Lastly, he received so much homework that it was going to be near impossible to finish by their due dates, and to top it off, he had Divination before dinner.

“Hello class,” murmured an eerie voice as students entered into the divination room. “I foresaw your arrival.” Trelawney entered and peered around at them with wide eyes.

"Here we go again..." Ron mumbled from behind Harry; the lack of enthusiasm in his voice was more than obvious. Seamus sat down next to the Weasley, while Dean dropped into a seat next to Harry with a grunt, understandably irritated with the class. It was a common theme for all Divination students.

"Today, we will, once again, interpreting the mysteries of our minds as they slumber. Often times, dreams occur when the mind is in its deepest sleep, although subconscious dreams happen just as often, and contain just as much meaning.” Trelawney cautiously paced between the tables, clutching her shawl protectively about her, staring with large eyes down at bored students.

After a great pause which was surely intended for dramatic effect, she continued. “After studying my crystal ball, I felt that it was safe for us to divide into partners and discuss those dreams in which you might have had; one from a deep sleep, and one from the subconscious state of mind.”

With a grumble of recalcitrance and disbelief, Harry flipped his divination book to chapter 27 that contained multifarious interpretations of the simplest dreams, ranging from one extreme to another.

Dean eyed the professor carefully before he said anything to his partner. "This is such a load of rubbish," Dean complained.

“Always has been,” Harry sighed. “I wish I could take something else instead of this flimsy topic.” Dean grunted in agreement as he also searched for the page.

“I think she's out to kill you,” Dean said in mock honesty, and the boys laughed. “I mean, all she tells you is that everything amounts to the Grim stalking you around!”

“Either that or I'll be eaten by a marshmellow,” Harry added.

“Now boys, have you discussed anything yet?” Trelawney approached Harry and Dean and the boys scrambled to muster up a dream.

“Quick, come on!” Dean whispered.

“You're the artist, Dean!” Harry hissed.

“Art as in art!”

“Art incorporates anything creative, Dean!”

“Does not!”

“Does too!”

“Now boys,” the divination professor uttered in a shaky voice that seemed more forced than natural; “what sort of images have haunted your mind as you dwell in slumber?”

Harry and Dean looked at each other. “Search me,” Harry said bluntly.

“I know, Harry,” an all too familiar voice piped up from across the room; Harry turned to glare at Ron, voice full of bravado and spite splashed across his face, “How about the dream where you were thrashing about like mad, Harry? You know, you were laughing like mad!”

A hot, seething feeling had risen in Harry's chest, boiling into his throat, but he kept calm. “I don't know what you're talking about,” Harry managed to say through gritted teeth.

"Who, Potter? Do tell! Have you had dreams like that?" she asked with great interest; most of the class had already lost interest in whatever they had been doing, easily distracted by the conversation that was quivering on the brink of combustion.

"No,” Harry said quickly.

"Oh yes you have!" Ron cried angrily, and Harry knew it was just to get back at him. The class was dead silent, eager to hear everything.

“Weasley, what--?”

"Professor, he was in the common room and I woke him up because he was laughing and thrashing like mad! And he's done it before, too!" Ron said with a malicious smugness only worthy of Malfoy. The class was now murmuring among themselves, excited and curious.

"What are these dreams about, Potter?" Trelawney asked quickly.

"Oh, he'll never tell you, he never tells anyone anything except the Headmaster," Ron sneered, shooting Harry and icy look.

It was too much for him to handle; this intentional humiliation had gone too far, and Harry was never one to keep himself under control. Fuming, Harry shoved himself away from the table, snatching his bag and heading straight for the exit, quivering with rage.

“Oh, now he's going to go cry to Dumbledore about it,” Ron said loudly; there was a general snicker throughout the room.

With a fluid movement, Harry whipped his bag aside and drew his wand, screaming, “Shut up!”

“Why should I?” the Weasley roared back. There was no hesitation, because Ron matched his stance, boiling with anger as uncontrollable and dangerous as Harry's.

“I never asked for any of this to happen! Merlin, you're such a thick headed git and all you care about is yourself! None of this is my fault!”

“Well maybe if you had told me what was going on--!”

“What is it, Ron?” Harry cut across viciously. “Are you jealous that I'm going insane with these—these nightmares?”

Ron was momentarily struck silent, dumbfounded.

"Jealous? Jealous?" he cried. "How could I be jealous of a maniac like you who has dreams about You-Know-Who? How could I be jealous when you're so insecure you don't even tell your best friend whatever the hell you know about Herm—her!” Ron seemed shocked at himself for his uncontrolled outburst, but a second later, he had exploded again. “About her! You knew, Harry! You didn't even tell me! You're the git!" Ron roared back, threatening to spill over with angry tears.

Harry clenched his hair with a furious noise, clutching his shaking head and body, frustrated that Ron could even manage to think that this had been done on purpose. The fact that the entire class, professor included, was watching him with alarm and excitement enraged him even more.

"It isn't my fault I have stupid bloody dreams like that! And I would've told you if you been trying to help instead of moping around like it was the end of the world! And don't make this my problem, I'm not the insecure one, you are!” Harry accused suddenly, a rigid finger pointed at Ron, leaving no room for mistake. “She was your best friend, too!”

Recollecting himself, Harry summoned his bag and slung it over his shoulder, chest still rising and falling rapidly with furious anger. “You could've helped her, but you just broke her heart instead,” Harry hissed, watching as Ron's eyes widened in disbelief.

Whipping around, he snatched open the trapdoor and started down it angrily before he heard the excited talk of the class again. His heart was pounding in his throat as he stormed down the corridor.

These past fews nights, everything was a terrifying reality that shadowed Harry like a rain cloud day and night. Hermione was all his mind could concentrate on, awake or asleep. His slumber revealed the night she had disappeared, the way Ron had so effortlessly broken her heart, the way her vulnerability encouraged Malfoy and both enraged Harry, and the way she didn't seem to ever really fight Malfoy until it was too late.

Something had been changed inside of Hermione, broken forever, and Malfoy had been the one to misuse it to his advantage. Yes, it didn't make any sense that Hermione could've been soothed by that Slytherin, that monster, but in a way, she needed someone, anyone, to help her. And Harry had to admit, however cowardly and vicious Malfoy could be, he wasn't stupid.

The miserable image of Hermione's kidnapping over and over again in his mind was interrupted by a familiar sneer. He halted in his tracks, withdrawing his wand before he turned the corner and observed.

"Give it back or I'll slug you!" Ginny snarled, waving a fisted hand at Draco Malfoy, who was holding Ginny's wand above her head and jeering at her.

"Come on, Weasley, jump for it, that's all you weasels can do anyway!" Malfoy sneered.

"Give it back, you-- you kidnapper!" Ginny snarled, making a wild snatch for her wand but refusing to jump.

"What did you just call me?" Malfoy hissed, his face now twisted in anger instead of the malicious glee it was before.

"I called you a kidnapper, you dolt!" she trilled, making another snatch. "And give me back my bloody wand!"

Malfoy, with a deadly look in his eyes, grabbed Ginny by the collar and threw her against the wall. A cry of pain echoed the hallway as she cradled her now awkwardly bent arm. Harry threw himself towards Ginny as Malfoy withdrew his own wand, ready to reap vindication.

"Don't you dare touch her, Malfoy!" Harry snarled, whipping out his wand and stepping in front of Ginny.

"Oh look, Weasley, your boyfriend's here to save you," the Slytherin said scathingly, a smirk tilted on his face.

"If you ever go near Ginny or Hermione again I will personally strangle you to death, Malfoy," Harry threatened softly, his eyes narrowed to slits, his wand in Malfoy's face.

"Granger?" Malfoy asked, taken aback. "Granger? What's she got to do with this?" Harry curled his lip.

“I know what you did to her. I know what happened the night she disappeared. I saw it, and I'm not stupid,” he uttered with a dangerous softness. The smirk that had once resided on Malfoy's face had disappeared, and suddenly, his expression matched Harry's.

"You think I kidnapped her? Think again, Potter, I haven't laid a finger on that Mudblood. No one has. I know about as much as you, which is, in fact, nothing," Malfoy growled in a low voice, glaring at Harry.

“You've never been a very good liar, Malfoy. You're a lunatic, and so is Voldemort. And you will pay for hurting her,” Harry promised spitefully. He helped Ginny up, and turned back to Malfoy one last time.

“Give me her wand back, and maybe I'll spare you,” he said coldly. Malfoy, surprisingly, handed it over, gray eyes narrowed to icy slits. Harry glared at him, not wanting to turn his back on the Slytherin for a single moment. Ginny, though clearly hurt, was just a furious at Malfoy as Harry was.

“You won't get away with any of this,” she whispered fiercely, and before Harry could even nod in agreement, she spat in his face.

You little--” Malfoy's wand made a slashing movement, but Harry reacted just as quickly, heart thumping in anger and in fear.

"Progoto!” Seconds later, the blonde was crumpled on the floor, a thin cut across his face and a menacing look in his eyes. Harry nudged Ginny down the hall and watched Malfoy carefully as they left, but he did nothing more than stare at them as they left.

“That was a little scary, I'll admit,” Ginny said a while later as she and Harry arrived at the Hospital wing.

“But you were great,” Harry said with a grin. Although Madame Pomfrey threw a fit at how Ginny had 'fallen down the Gryffindor stairs', the bones were mended quickly and efficiently.

“Do you think Malfoy will just, you know, forget that I spat in his face?” Ginny asked, and when Harry gave her a look, they both laughed.

“You'll just have to have four eyes instead of two, from now on,” Harry advised.

“Like you?” she counted with a flirtatious look, and he smiled.

“Like me. But he's going to figure out a way to get back at you for that, if anything.”

While dinner was short and uneventful, the normal heaviness that Harry had felt for the past week or so was lightened slightly with Ginny around; having her did not fix Hermione's absence, but made it considerably easier to bear, because Harry knew that his girlfriend felt not only the same sadness, but the same fierce determination to bring her back.

Traveling up to the library to finish some homework, Harry avoided the thought that normally, he, Ron and Hermione would be visiting the dusty place together for their essays. However, Ginny filled the void slightly, and he would rather have her than have nothing, and having Ginny at least made him happy.

“So this essay I have about werewolves,” Ginny began as they set their things down on wooden tables. “It's difficult, right? You had it last year?”

“If I recall,” Harry said slowly. “Although I only managed to finish most of my essays because of Her-- because I had a lot of help.” There was a slightly awkward pause, the the heaviness returned to Harry again. “But I remember some of what I wrote.”

“Really?” Ginny asked in excitement, but Harry shook his head and laughed.

“I remember nothing, actually,” he chortled. “But I'll help you if you want me to.”

And Ginny did want him to. She requested a specific book on Lycanthropy that he had to fetch while she went in search of research about the Wolfsbane Potion. As he crossed many dusty isles and peered at dim titles, words drifted into Harry's ears that at first had no more significance than a foreign language did to him, but then completely made sense. His heart seized up, his stomach twisting in an uncomfortable knot as he listened on.

“The daily update, I'm assuming?” Harry peered between the shelves to see Malfoy perched on a table with a huge book opened in his lap, but a letter opened on its pages. A tall, thin Slytherin Harry recognized as Theodore Nott glanced over Malfoy's shoulder at the letter while also making sure no one was around.

“It gets better everyday,” Malfoy drawled. “He could only be half as entertaining in the letters to my father.”

“You read those too?” Nott asked quietly, and Malfoy scoffed.

“What, and bore myself to death? No, these have got the real stuff. Troy would never mention half of the things to my father.”

“For instance?”

Harry could tell, very suddenly, that this Nott fellow was much more clever than Malfoy understood. Observing the Slytherin, Nott had his hands folded primly behind his back, and his dark eyes glowed down at the letter, not with excitement, but rather with intelligence. Every time Malfoy turned to glance at him, Nott looked bored, but when the grey eyes were elsewhere, Nott's eyes were pouring over the letter that Malfoy kept leaving unguarded in his lap.

“For instance, 'Granger said your name a few times, Draco, and not Malfoy, which has been quite a bit of improvement since day one, don't you think?'” Malfoy read in a smug drawl. “You must understand--”

“I understand well enough, I think,” Nott cut him off, and Malfoy raised a thin eyebrow. “No one in their right minds calls you Draco anyway, except for Pansy.” The two boys looked at each other and chuckled softly.

“He also says here, She's been asking about you, and it was more than obvious that she was disappointed with my appearance rather than yours. It seems you've given her something to miss, if you know what I mean.' Not so bad, I would think,” bragged Malfoy as he began to fold up the letter, but Nott stopped him.

“Let me just read it,” he asked politely, but Malfoy shook his head. Nott narrowed his eyes. “I just want to make sure that you're not making these things up as you go, Malfoy, because I've known you quite some time, and you do lie.”

“I do not lie about things like this,” Malfoy said indignantly, but just the same he unfolded the letter. Nott held out a hand, but Malfoy kept it back.

He began to read it in a low voice, and Harry had to take a step closer to hear him. “Draco . . . It seems as if all goes well here, with or without you. I think your father and mine will be pleased with the impression you've made on Granger, because she's very vulnerable and not nearly as harsh as when we started. She said your name a few times, Draco, and not Malfoy, which has been quite a bit of improvement since day one, don't you think? I mean, considering that she wouldn't even look at you without getting mad, which is quite the opposite now. And since--”

“What do you mean, quite the opposite now?” Nott cut across Malfoy, who smirked.

“I made a deal with the little Mudblood, and although it may seem disgusting at first, it wasn't so bad as you might think,” Malfoy said slowly. Nott quirked an eyebrow, and his face seemed sharp, and hooded, and to Harry, it seemed perfectly well that he knew what Malfoy meant.

“How far?” Nott said quietly.

“Not as far as I would've like, but the virginity thing is rather pivotal in what's going on,” Malfoy sighed. “That's not to say nothing happened, because that would certainly be a lie.”

After a moment of consideration, Nott gestured for Malfoy to read on. “Where was I? Ah, here . . . which is quite the opposite. And since you've left, she's been asking about you, and it was more than obvious that she was disappointed with my appearance rather than yours. It seems you've given her something to miss, if you know what I mean. I think the plans will fall rather nicely, considering she openly admitted to trusting you, and also admitted that she felt betrayed. What a fool, that Mudblood. The Hollow hasn't been very good to her, and I predict it won't be in the near future, either. You'll have to make it back at least once before the ceremony, just to tease her. Wouldn't that be cruel? I hope everyone believes you're innocent, though that's unlikely. Troy.”

Malfoy and Nott looked at each other, and after a tense moment, Nott nodded. “Impressive.”

“It's more than impressive, Nott,” Malfoy scoffed. “First off, Granger was the biggest prude I've ever met in my life, you have no idea how long it took me to convince her to do anything with me!”

“Well, seeing as she isn't a Slytherin, I expect just minutes after your proposal you were already impatient,” Nott drawled, inspecting his fingernails. Malfoy narrowed his eyes.

“I don't see you playing the dating game, Theo,” Malfoy said coldly. Nott glanced up.

“I don't play games like you, Draco,” Nott answered back just as coldly. At this, the dark Slytherin gave Malfoy a tight smile, and turned to leave.

“You should feel honored that I shared this with you, Nott,” Malfoy said in a low, dangerous voice.

Nott stopped, and without looking back, answered, “What gives you the impression that I'm not honored?” But after that, there was no exchange between them. Nott left, and Malfoy stared at the empty space that had previously contained his house mate.

“Harry?” Malfoy's blonde head whipped around, and although the Gryffindor fled the isle as fast as he could, he had a sinking feeling that Malfoy was all too aware of his presence.

Tearing wildly around a corner, Harry ran into Ginny and seized her by the shoulder. The redhead stared up at him with huge, surprised eyes. Harry shook her, and all at once what he had seen came pouring out of his mouth in a hushed, terrified whisper.

Any idea of what had gone on between Malfoy and Hermione, Harry had no definite way of knowing, other than inferring from Malfoy's all too clear words. It was obvious that something physical had been instigated between them, but Harry had a hard time grasping at that concept, or grasping at anything, to be perfectly honest. All he knew was that Malfoy had undeniably kidnapped Hermione, and if there had ever been any doubt before, there wasn't now.

By the time he was done, Ginny had paled considerably, and her freckles stood out against the white of her face. “A-Are you serious?” Ginny spluttered, clutching at her heart and gaping simultaneously.

“I know he's done something to her, but really Ginny, your guess is as good as mine, although Malfoy pretty much, well, spelled out what he did to her,” Harry said worriedly.

“Or what he didn't do,” Ginny added darkly.

“It's just that . . .” The moment of truth was now or never, to acknowledge the quiet fear that had become louder and brighter every passing second. “How could Hermione miss him? How could she stand to do anything with him?”

“I don't know,” Ginny whispered, eyes cast downwards to the floor. She grabbed Harry's hands, and looked up at him. “Whatever he did to her, Harry, it must've been bad, because we know how strong Hermione is. But no one is infallible.”

“I don't want to think about Hermione snapping under pressure,” Harry said quietly. “Especially for something like this. Even if they threatened her, I know Hermione better than that. She doesn't just . . .” But he couldn't go on from there, and did not want to, for fear of poisoning his loyalty and fierce belief in his friend. “I just wish I knew what she was thinking.”

“I have something of hers that might be of some help to you, Harry,” Ginny began. “I'm not really sure what it will do, but it's definitely a closer look into her head, if that will you figure things out.”

Harry was willing to do anything, so together they went back to the Gryffindor Tower as quickly as they possibly could. Harry waited anxiously below while Ginny dashed up to the girls' dormitory. He couldn't help but list off all of the problems that weighed him down: Hermione's kidnapping, this rift between him and Ron, and these persistent nightmares that could be either a blessing or a curse, or perhaps even both; and, of course, so much homework that if felt as if his head would burst from all the things he was supposed to be remembering.

However, when Ginny came down the stairs he felt a little sigh of relief, having hope that whatever Ginny was handing him was a key to fix one of these problems. She handed him a small book, but it felt quite heavy. Turning it over in his hands, he realized it was personal journal, and knowing Hermione, she had probably put a charm on it for infinite pages, which explained its weight.

He opened to a random page, and began to read the familiar neat cursive. Goodness, I've never been so stressed out in my life. All of these preparation for our exams, and it's only January. Of course, this must be expected, but it's useless to expect any help from Ron or Harry, regardless of the month. I don't expect they'll start studying until the week before exams. Sometimes I can hardly stand that pair. They weren't so bad at Christmas though, which was a relief since I spend almost all of my free time with the Weasley's anyway. It was rather nice, except Ron and I had another fight again . . . honestly, I think he's out to get me, I can't stand this much more . . .

“This was from last year!” Harry said, startling himself with his excitement. “I remember this from last year! Blimey, that was a bad fight . . .”

“I checked it, and it goes right up until the night before she was taken,” Ginny informed him quietly.

Harry closed the journal and stared down at its faded cover. Blue and peeling, Hermione had carved a heart into the back of it with the letters RBW scratched in the middle, and it made his heart squeeze up to recall just how much Hermione had loved Ron.

“I think this will help me a lot,” Harry said. “Even if it doesn't lead us straight to her, I think it will help my head, at least.”

Ginny leaned up and kissed his cheek gently. “Good. We can't have you going completely mental on us.” They laughed at this, but it was short lived, for the more Harry stared down at the journal, the more he missed Hermione, for this was a little piece of her soul organized neatly and honestly.

Later that night, Harry pulled his bed hangings around his bed and brought out Hermione's journal from his bag, and ran his fingers over it. Knowing that nothing would be accomplished if he continued to stare blankly at its cover while reminiscing, Harry opened it and began reading, unaware of the helpful information that was hidden between its endless pages.


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My goodness I haven't updated in like, a year or something obscene like that! I'm sorry to say that as a senior in high school, my infrequent updates will be getting less and less frequent, although I do want to get this story completely out, seeing as I finished it once before. I at least owe everyone that, right?

Please review, even if you hate me :)

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