The World As She Knew It.
She ached. Her skin, her muscles, her bones, her nerve endings themselves. Everything hurt. It felt almost like the beginning of the flu, the soreness her body felt. She shuddered and tears slipped from closed eyelids.
It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.
...Have I died?
She remembered the spell that hit her in the chest. How could she ever possibly forget that green, so like Harry's eyes, that struck her so forcefully? How could she forget Bellatrix Lestrange's wasted face twisted in a ferocious snarl when she flicked her wand? How could she forget Ron and Harry's tormented screams from under the marble floors? How could she ever forget what happened to her in Malfoy Manor? Hermione released a soft sob.
Quiet voices coming from somewhere broke Hermione from her thoughts and tired brown eyes snapped open in response, widening considerably when she took in the room that she was in. Her jaw dropped.
It was huge.
The room, while sparsely decorated was incredibly lavish.
Light flooded into the room from an extremely large arched window to Hermione's left. The window had dark mahogany detailed shutters and the large arched door just to the left of the window led to what appeared to be a large balcony--Hermione could see potted plants lined along the stone floor and what appeared to be a small garden table crafted from bronze that had two seats from the open window.
To the right of Hermione there was an extremely heavy looking mahogany door, possibly the entrance to the room itself Hermione mused and a little bit further down stood a decidedly antique grand wardrobe that was both as tall as Hermione and at least six times her size wide. It was quite possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of furniture Hermione had ever seen--the floral detail on double doors was both intricate and beautiful, and the handles on the doors Hermione knew without deeper scrutiny were definitely gold. Beside the wardrobe stood a simply beautiful antique vanity more than likely carved from the same wood as the wardrobe as its little dresser had very similar detailing.
Looking straight ahead, on the stone floor Hermione could see a brilliant crimson persian carpet with gold, orange, blue, green and cream detailing and atop the carpet were what looked like a comfy red leather armchair and a matching curved loveseat that could probably fit a lot more people on it than two. In between the two chairs stood a small antique table that one would likely use to rest their drinks, food and books and so on. The two seats faced the massive stone fireplace that currently had a roaring fire crackling merrily in its grate despite the decidedly warm weather (in fact, Hermione was sweating just looking at the flames) and a small arched door to the left of the fireplace led to what appeared to be a bathroom en suite--Hermione could see a tiny glimpse of what appeared to be a golden clawed bathtub in the reflection of a wall-sized mirror.
In all, Hermione was stunned.
Where the bloody hell was she?
Hermione didn't have to be stupid to realise that she was no longer in Malfoy Manor--like Lucius and Narcissa would ever decorate their living quarters so...Gryffindor-like?
Panic welled quickly and terribly in Hermione's chest.
Where was she?
Was she still alive?
Considering the pain Hermione was currently in, she now doubted she was dead--do the dead even feel pain? she mused--and she seriously doubted she was in Malfoy Manor, unless this was a new trick to lull Hermione into a false sense of security?
"I've had enough of your lies, you filthy Mudblood scum! If we don't get the information from you we'll get it from that Blood Traitor Weasley yet! Besides, one less Mudblood in the world the better! Especially Potter's most precious one. Avada Kedavra!"
No, that was definitely the killing curse--that green light was unmistakable.
What in the name of Merlin was going on?
A sudden crack of apparition caused Hermione to let out a sharp scream, her hand quickly muffling her voice when she realised that the thing that appeared in the room was not in fact a wizard intent to kill her but a house elf. The little creature looked very typical for its kind--dark skinned, large, bat-like ears and bulging brown eyes the size of tennis balls. It stood at about two and a half feet tall and wore a simple white pillowcase that looked clean and crisp.
"Missus is awake now?" The elf looked absolutely delighted as it took in Hermione's stunned features, smiling crookedly. "Mipsy's Masters will be so pleased that young Missus is awake! Is you okay, young Miss?"
"I will be..." Hermione paused and peering closely at the elf standing beside the four poster bed Hermione was currently residing in, smiled.
"I be Mipsy, young Miss!" The elf, now named squeaked in response, its oversized head bobbing in its enthusiasm.
"I'm Hermione," The bedridden Hermione replied with a wide smile and she raised a quaking hand in order to shake. "Nice to meet you, Mipsy."
Mipsy stared at Hermione's trembling hand and then to Hermione's face--tennis ball eyes widening even further if that were possible. "Oh, Miss! Yous don't need to shake Mipsy's hand--yous be the human and Mipsy be the house elf! No hand shaking is needed, no no!"
Hermione inwardly scowled. "But Mipsy, a wizard or witch is no better than a house elf--everybody should be equal!"
"Ohh, young Missus needn't be saying that, young Miss," Mipsy replied quietly, bowing its head. "Mipsy is quite happy living the way Mipsy is, Mipsy would change nothing!" Suddenly raising its head and gracing Hermione with a toothy smile, Mipsy suddenly added, "And now that the young Miss is awake Mipsy shall fetch Mistress and Masters to see you now--shant be a moment!"
Another sharp crack sounded throughout the cavernous room just as Hermione opened her mouth to retort and she scowled bitterly, crossing her arms over her chest. She winced at the sudden pain that came with the aftereffects of the Cruciatus curse, and forcing the tears back she slowly began to massage the backs of her hands and her wrists roughly with her palms, as if by rubbing the offending limb she could will the pain away. A sudden thought of her mother caught Hermione unawares and she choked back a sob, remembering how her mother's kiss alone would drive away any of Hermione's aches and pains as a young youth. It was like a special brand of muggle magic. And then remembering that Hermione's mother no longer knew her, that her mother no longer knew that she once had a magical daughter whom she would read fairytales to every night as a child, that she used to dress up in frilly pink dresses and white Mary Janes despite the fact Hermione's favourite colour was blue opened the floodgates and Hermione couldn't help the heartwrenching sobs that tore themselves from her throat. Slowly raising her blanketed legs to her chest despite the burning to her very bones from the action, the brunette drew into herself and cried harder, cried for the memories of her parents, for Harry, for Ron, for the pain she was feeling and she cried for her situation--what was going on?
"Oh, pet, oh pet. It's alright, you're safe now, dear." A gentle touch to Hermione's shoulder caused the girl to freeze.
Raising her heavy head and biting her lip due to the strain, Hermione locked a tearful gaze with the elderly woman who sat on the edge of Hermione's bed, her eyes widening slightly in surprise.
The woman was quite old.
Grey eyes stared at Hermione from a wrinkled face--though the lines were mostly at the creases of her eyes and around her mouth--indicating to Hermione that this woman had spent most of her life smiling. Snow white hair tumbled in smooth curls around her shoulders and the hair framed her aristocratic features. Dressed in deep sea green robes, the woman despite her age was definitely beautiful and when she smiled at Hermione she revealed glimmering white teeth.
"Are you alright, young one?" Hermione swallowed thickly, suddenly unable to speak. "My name is Dorea Potter dear and it seems my scallywag of a son found you when you suddenly appeared on the street in front of him. Would it bother you to tell me what happened to injure you so grievously? Never have I seen such horrendous wounds on a young girl before and I was a nurse during the times of Grindewald's uprising."
Hermione barely registered anything after 'Potter' and she doubted her eyes could get any wider unless they popped right out of her head. "...P-Potter...as in the Pureblood family Potter?"
Grey eyes closed in a smile and the old woman waved a dismissive hand. "If one cares about that Pureblood rubbish then yes, I am from that Potter family, pet."
"...Am I dead?" Hermione forced the question from her lips with a bitterness she didn't know she possessed and raised an eyebrow when the old woman laughed--a light and cheerful sound that made the world seem brighter.
"Oh pet, if you're dead I must be six feet under myself! Which, given the current circumstances of our arrangement," She gestured to the grand room she and Hermione were in, "I assure you not."
"Well that's certainly reassuring," Hermione muttered under her breath, rubbing her sore wrists again.
The woman known as Mrs Potter suddenly tutted regretfully and brought her palm to caress Hermione's cheek. She ignored the brunette's sudden flinch. "Though I tried my best to heal your wounds there is nothing I can do about the after affects of the Cruciatus curse," she sighed, her eyes sorrowful. "There's no magical malady to cure those kinds of aches and pains just yet." Tears sparkled in Hermione's eyes and the woman seemed to know what Hermione was thinking, then saying, "When you fight in a war symptoms such as yours are not unfortunately few and far between, pet. And given how this new Dark Lord seems to be taking up Grindewald's mantle I'm afraid there are going to be many more young people like you getting hurt by Unforgivables and causing so many families such pain... I don't know what I'd do if my James, or my little Sirius, for that matter, got hurt."
Hermione's blood ran cold. "J-James Potter?" She suddenly stuttered, "As in James Potter who plays Chaser for Gryffindor at Hogwarts? And Sirius as in Sirius Black?"
Yes, I must be dead. Hermione thought. James Potter and Sirius Black? But then do the dead feel pain? I wouldn't think so...
Mrs Potter smiled widely. "Oh, you know my James?" She replied with glee, her grey eyes shining with what was so obviously pride. "He was recently made Quidditch Captain for Gryffindor, Charlus and I were so proud."
Still beaming, Mrs Potter nodded and more panic welled in Hermione's chest. Only recently made Quidditch Captain?
"Such a wonderful child." Mrs Potter continued, completely unaware of Hermione's distress. "A little audacious, at times, but a beautiful child whom I love so very much."
"Audacious?" A deep voice suddenly intoned from the doorway in an indignant tone and startled, Hermione turned her gaze to the voice. "Did you hear that Padfoot, my mother darling thinks I'm audacious! Oh, the shame! Why didn't you tell me you were so ashamed and disgusted by me, mother mine? I can change my ways! I'd turn the sky orange with green polka dots for you if that's what you asked of me!"
"Oh Prongs, no need for the dramatics my old friend. I'm sure by 'audacious' she means 'bodacious'. Am I right Mrs P?"
Hermione froze at the sound of that very familiar voice (though it sounded a lot younger than what she remembered and definitely lighter too) while Mrs Potter let out another trilling laugh and agreed with the handsome youth who was chuckling himself. Her breath caught in her throat and fresh tears filled her eyes. She hadn't heard that voice in many years.
'Sirius didn't make it out of the Department of Mysteries, Hermione.' She suddenly remembered an ashen Ginny Weasley explaining once Hermione had recovered somewhat in the Hospital Wing. 'Bellatrix Lestrange cursed him and he fell into the Veil.'
A pouting James Potter and a grinning Sirius Black stood in the doorway and Hermione's world as she knew it changed forever.
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