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Hermione approached Aoife slowly and delicately. She didn't know what sort of mood she what be in, she had never experienced this before. "Do you want to know the worse part of all of this?" Aoife asked her. She didn't look at Hermione, she had her back to her, but she still knew it was someone she could trust. "In a couple of hours or days, everyone in this stupid castle will know what's been happening. Aengus will be whispered about more times than the wind blows through the cracks."

"It won't last," Hermione lied. She was well aware of the spiteful tongues in this place, being on the receiving end of gossip for numerous years in a row.

"We both know you're lying, Hermione. I may have only been here for a short time, but every secret that the walls contain will leak and once they leak, nothing will be the same. Our normal lives here are over, we're going to be just like you three. A room will go deadly silent if one of us walks in. Our names will be passed around in hushed voices. He's ruined us." Still refusing to turn around, Aoife stayed ridged. "He brought us here. The place he had kept us from for years, and within months of our arrival, our family secrets are known to all. There's something about it, something about the brick that invades your mind, your soul."

"The hard part is over now, Aoife. Aengus spoke out. All you have to do is keep your head up. If you don't rise to the whispers, they will die down."

"Maybe you're right. You probably are, you've dealt with it since you were 11." She turned around, revealing a red and puffy face.

Hermione smiled weakly as she walked over to her and handed her a tissue, "once you start, it's hard to stop."

"I swear I never used to be like this, I couldn't. I had to think about Aisling, she needed a female to look up to and that, unfortunately, had to be me." She explained as she wiped the tears away with the tissue. "I need to go and tell her what's happened, she needs to know before everyone else finds out. Can you just tell me one thing? Completely honestly." Hermione paused, not knowing what the question would be made it almost impossible to say yes, but she nodded all the same. "Will everything end up okay?"

"I don't know," Hermione whispered, not wanting to break her promise. "I hope it will be. You just need to get used to the differences. But you need to make Aisling safe and happy, Harry and I will help you with that in any way."

Aoife smiled, appreciating her honesty. "I need to find her someone to live when she's not here. I assume she'll want to stay here." She began to panic.

"Calm down. You're not alone in this. Talk to Ardal and perhaps Aengus when he's back."

"Back? Where's he gone?" Aoife asked, her voice suddenly sounding more shrill.

"I think Madam Pomfrey is checking him, I meant back to his usual self," Hermione explained.

"His normal self? You don't know what that is, I hardly know what that is. I don't think he'll ever be his normal self again."

Hermione sighed, she always seemed to say the wrong things. "I didn't mean anything by that. I just meant that he'll be full of adrenaline at the moment and might need to calm down before he can think straight."

"I know what you meant, I'm sorry. I don't know why I said that. It's been a long few months." Aoife sighed, Hermione looked at her and nodded.

"I'll go and find Ron," Hermione said.

"Great," Aoife muttered sarcastically. Hermione, who had heard this, decided to ignore it and carried on with her mission.


"So why has your lesson been cancelled, Harry?" Ginny asked as they both sat in the Common Room, with Ron at a table doing some work.

"McGonagall had something to deal with," Harry said vaguely, busying himself with something in his bag.

"Right, and where are Hermione and Aoife? Don't they have Transfiguration with you?" Her voice matching her suspicious face.

"I have no idea," Harry replied, praying that she would stop prying soon.

"Ron, do you know where Aoife is? I saw Hermione looking for Ardal a while ago." She added for Harry's benefit.

"I think she's with Hermione," Ron said even more vaguely than Harry. They had an unspoken deal that neither of them would tell anyone what was happening with the Curran's.

Ginny sighed, knowing she was fighting a losing battle in trying to get them to speak. "You don't have to tell me what's going on, I just wish you would tell me straight that you don't want to tell me."

"Why? You got the hint," Ron snarled.

"Just because there's trouble in paradise doesn't mean you have to take it out on me," Ginny whined before exited the room.

"Trouble in paradise?" Harry echoed, chucking his bag on the floor and walking over to Ron.

"Remember what I told you earlier? I bumped into Ginny and let her in on it. I just feel like something has completely changed. I've never felt closer to anyone in my life over Christmas, but that has rapidly changed since coming back here."

"Is there someone else?" Harry asked.

"I wouldn't even know that," Ron said. "To be honest, Harry, I don't know a lot about her," he admitted.

"There's still time for you to learn."

"I thought I wanted to, but now-" he began to say when someone interrupted him.

"Ron, you need to go to Aoife. Her dad's been taken and she shouldn't be alone." Hermione ordered.

"Did she ask for me?" Ron asked half in amazement, half in denial.

"Just go to her," Hermione demanded again.

"Where is she?"

"I left her outside the Potions classroom, she might not still be there, though, but I would recommend going there." Ron gave her look that demonstrated just how obvious her suggestion was. It was as though his look had said, 'well where else would I look?'

Ron didn't seem as concerned with what his face was doing, however, as he ran off without another word to the pair of them. "Long day?" Harry asked as Hermione slumped down on the sofa.

"You can say that again, when will this end, Harry? When we first came back, did you think we would have a quiet year?" She asked, closing her eyes as she spoke.

"I guess it crossed my mind, but quiet doesn't mix with us. Problems follow us around, and I shouldn't say this, but I'm slightly relieved that it isn't us in danger this time around." He whispered the last part, hoping that if Hermione's ears were disapproving, the slight change in volume would deceive her.

"I know what you mean, but I somehow think that it's worse when it's not our battle to fight," she turned to face him, "unlike before, we can't even pretend to be in control." Harry nodded, knowing exactly what was being said, but not knowing how to follow up. "Everything should be better now, at least, Aengus isn't in danger. Well, hopefully."


"I just have a funny feeling. Don't you think everything happened a bit too quickly? We haven't been told anything by McGonagall, I would have thought she would have said something to excuse Professor Curran to everyone. The whole school will be wondering where he's got to." Hermione pondered aloud.

"Maybe you're right, but I would imagine that she wants to leave it to Aoife, Aengus and Ardal. They can tell as much or as little as they want. All we need to know is that he's gone and I suppose we, once again, don't have a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher."

Hermione's eyes widened, although she cared deeply about what their friends were going through, she couldn't quite keep the studious part of her person from showing its anxious self. "I'm sure that's the last thing McGonagall is thinking about right now."

"We'll have to see if she mentions anything at dinner tonight, people will notice his empty chair there."


Things had certainly changed at Hogwarts. Nobody mentioned Professor Curran, there were rumours circulating the castle, of course, but no one confirmed or denied them. Deep down, Hermione suspected that the truth was out there, but it was never publicly spoken about. Aengus had been quiet, but at least now he wasn't walking into rooms with a face from something out of a horror movie. He still refused, or avoided, being in the same room as Hermione alone, which wasn't a bad thing. She needed space from all of it too. "Got your trunk packed?" Harry asked on a sunny Saturday morning.

"Harry, who do you think you're talking to?" Ron scoffed.

"Yeah, I'm ready. Are you sure you don't mind walking down with me? You don't have to." She smiled, ignoring Ron's remarks.

"Stop. We've discussed this on many occasions, Hermione." He grinned, "I have legs, I can walk, so I will walk down with you."

She was about to go back to her parent's house to be with her ailing mother. It still wasn't clear how ill was ill, but nobody was prepared to take a chance. "Shall we go then? I just need to let McGonagall know, I'll just be a second."

"I hope everything will be okay, Hermione certainly doesn't need any more angst," Ron muttered to an all too knowing Harry.

"She's prepared herself for the worst, but she doesn't want to talk to me about it," Harry said, "not that I'll know what to say even if she wanted to."

"She'll let you in when she's ready, she always does," Ron replied.

"Yeah, you're probably right," Harry said, his eyes and mind focusing on the small figure of Hermione in the distance.

"You'll be able to cope, Harry. You're stronger than you think." Ron smiled. Harry snapped back, amazed at the fact that it wasn't Hermione who knew exactly what he was thinking.

"What if I can't? What if I fail her? She doesn't deserve that." Harry voiced his concern with ease, almost like he was in an empty room speaking to himself.

"She believes that you won't fail her, that's why you're still together. Don't doubt yourself when she doesn't doubt you."

Hermione made her way back to where they were sat. "She said I can leave, but she wants you," she was speaking to Harry, "to find her when you walk back up."

"Why?" Ron asked rather abruptly, taking them both aback slightly.

"She didn't say way, I presume she wants to know I've gone."

"Or she wants to make sure that I haven't gone with you." Harry joked.

"That's probably more like it," Ron agreed.

"Ready?" Harry asked. She was hesitant but nodded. Harry took her hand and noticed it was shaking uncontrollably, but that was something he could help with - he held it strongly and surely. She appreciated it, silently.

"See you when you're back, Hermione. I hope everything is- I'm sure everything will be alright." He rephrased.

"Bye," was all she could say out of fear of breaking down.

Harry guided her to the main door, down the lawn and out of the grounds. Neither one of them opened their mouths as they went. The wind conversing with the trees was all they needed. Hermione stopped and turned to face Harry, her mind wandered back to Christmas when she escaped back here, now it felt like she was escaping from here - but to what? "It'll be okay, if she's anything like you, she'll be able to fight whatever it is." He smiled, she kept hold of his hand, beginning to squeeze harder. "Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?"

She shook her head, "no, you know McGonagall would skin you if you didn't report back." She didn't sound confident or strong, which broke his heart more than anything. "I'll write to you as soon as I can, don't worry about me too much, I'll be fine." She empathised the 'I'll'.

"Keep your head up," he ordered, using his free hand to push her chin up. She was greeted with one of the biggest smiled she had ever seen, which in turn, made her smile.

"See you in a few days then." Her voiced wavered, for weeks she had been so far away from this day, now it was here and she wasn't sure how to handle it. Harry kissed her forehead and reluctantly let go of her shaking hand. She smiled and spun on the spot and disappeared. Harry waited and stared at where she stood for several minutes, just in case she came back for him. When she didn't, which is what he fully expected, he made his way back to te castle in the search of McGonagall to prove he hadn't left too.


Hermione took a deep breath as she walked up the road to her family road. She had put off the inevitable for long enough by roaming the suburbs in which she grew up and now had to face the truth. It was the unknown which scared her the most. What if her mum was unrecognisable? What if Hermione was unrecognisable to her mum? She knocked on the door, unsure as to way. Maybe it was to give her slightly longer to think of something to say to her dad when she saw him, nothing came to mind.

No one came to let her in. She took a step away from the building and looked up. There was a faint yellow tinge radiating from her parents bedroom and a slither of light escaping from the cracks in the front door. She walked back to the door and turned the handle - it was locked. She knocked on the door again, this time, louder, and still there was no answer. This struck Hermione as odd. She was expected; she was sure she had informed her father she was coming today. Instinctively her mind went to magic and her wand came out of her pocket. She whispered, "Alohomora", the lock clicked and the door opened. "Hello?" She called into the seemingly deserted hallway, but no one replied. She walked towards the kitchen door and heard someone tapping on some buttons. She knocked once again but didn't wait to enter.

"Hermione! Is it Saturday already? Gosh, I'm losing track of the days." His voice and face displayed nothing but fatigue.

"The door was locked, I used magic to open it. It shouldn't be broken. What are you doing?" She asked having clocked the paperwork that scattered the kitchen island and the calculator which was being ferociously pressed.

"With your mum not working and wages for the nurses that help, I'm trying to figure out money. It's nothing to worry about," he added after noticing Hermione's face. "If I wasn't working every day, I could get by without nurses."

"Are you going to sell the practice?"

"It's looking more and more like that is the only way. I'm determined to find another solution, I'm confident she'll get better and be able to return to work."

Hermione smiled and nodded. "Is she upstairs?"

"Yes, Nurse Waterman is up there with her, but she'd be more than happy to see you." Her dad said as she turned his attention back to his figures. "Thanks for coming, Hermione, it means so much to both of us," he whispered as she was almost out the door. She stopped and turned to face his as if she was going to say something, but no words found he so she left her father alone.

She climbed the stairs, the task seeming almost impossible because of what lay up there. Still not knowing what her mum was facing. The mention of nurses struck fear in her stomach.

The stairs seemed continuous. Every time she took one step, it felt like another two were added. She finally reached the top and with both a heavy heart and heavy legs, she walked over to her parent's room. Again she knocked, this time waiting for an answer. A woman with a slight Welsh accent sang "come in!" So she followed the orders of a complete stranger. "You must be Hermione, I've heard a lot about you," she exclaimed as Hermione stood in the door frame.

"Hello, darling." Her mum's voice was quiet but had the same tone.

"How are you feeling, mum?" Her voice matched her mums volume without it meaning to.

"All the better now you're here." She smiled. Hermione closed the door gently and walked over to the bed.

"I'll go and make everyone a nice cup of tea," Nurse Waterman said as she stood up from the chair that was placed by the bed.

"Oh, sorry, I should I thought and brought some up with me," Hermione replied rather embarrassingly, how could she be so thoughtless?

"Don't be silly, love. I know that tea isn't on your mind. How do you take yours?" She asked kindly.

"Black, one sugar," Hermione answered with a smile. "Are you sure you don't mind? I can make it."

"Don't be silly," she repeated, "have a nice catch up with your mum. She's been talking about you visiting for weeks now."

"Sit here," her mum patted on the other side of the bed. They both waited for Nurse Waterman to leave before they started talking. "How have you been? How's Harry? Ron? School?" Hermione sighed, she should have known they would be talking about her.

"I've been alright, worrying about you, though. Harry is good too, he's been writing to Edgar - Furman, the sort of magic equivalent to a psychiatrist," she clarified, " for a while now."

"It's good for him to be keeping it up, I can't wait to meet him now that he is more himself."

"He wanted to visit this week, but McGonagall wouldn't let him. She says it's because of school work, but I think she's worried it would be bad for him."

"That's fair enough, I don't want a big fuss being made. How about Ron?"

"He's having a few problems with his girlfriend, but she's just found out something really terrible and her whole family is damaged because of it. I'm sure once that's sorted everything will work out."

"Oh yes, Aoife. I always liked Ron, I hope things work out well for him."

"Me too, his family has been through a lot. We saw a lot of death, but losing one of your own must be unbearable." Hermione sighed, thinking of Fred and poor George who would never be whole again.

"I can only imagine. Sometimes I think what would have happened if you had been taken. We would never have known. It doesn't bear thinking about." She wiped a lonely tear as she thought back to Australia.

"That wouldn't have happened, I made Ron and Harry promise that if anything happened to me, they would find you and tell you. But we don't need to think about that, I'm alive and fine."

"Thank goodness. All thanks to Harry for protecting you. You've found a good one there, just be sure he can and will always protect you."

"What's that suppose to mean? He does his best."

"I know that. I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sorry, I just want to make sure you're always safe and happy."

"I know, mum, I'm sorry. Let's talk about you. How are we going to get you better?" Hermione dreaded this conversation but knew it all must be said.

"I don't know if that's going to be possible."

"Don't say that. We can get through this, together. I know we can."

"I've got chronic kidney disease, Hermione. It can be controlled and I can probably cope with it for the time being, but I won't be able to be the same."

'chronic kidney disease' repeated in her head over and over, "what does that mean?" Hermione's lip was trembling and she couldn't look at her mum.

"It means that my kidneys will eventually fail if I don't have a heart attack before that," she said rather matter of factly. "They're treating me, but that just slows it down.

"There must be a cure, something we can do."

"They are saying that I need a transplant, I'm well enough to get through one, but no one is a match and the list is as long as anything."

"Will I be a match? I must be, I'm your daughter. I can give you one of mine." She said quickly and rather high pitched.

"No, Hermione. That's not what I want. You have school, and your holiday you're planning with Harry and your friends. It wouldn't be fair to you."

"Seeing you like this isn't fair to me, or you for that matter. I'm 18, I can make my own decisions. It will give you a longer and better life. You don't need to suffer and stay in bed all day. I will have to find out more about it, of course, but I can read up on it, talk to doctors, ask them questions." Hermione had made up her mind, she was going to do everything in her power to save her mum. "I'll go and talk to Nurse Waterman about how to get tested to see if we're a match."

"No-" she began to argue, but Hermione was already out the door.

"She could theoretically be on dialysis until she gets better - if she will. I really can't stress how important a transplant would be for your wife. If it's successful and her body accepts it, there's no telling how long she will live, best case would be at least 10 years, if not longer. And that living will be proper living, she will be able to go back to work if she wants, whatever but she won't be in bed all day." Hermione heard the nurse say to her dad from behind the kitchen door.

"I've been thinking who could donate, but Rose doesn't have any siblings and her cousin isn't a match."

"Have we ruled out your daughter? She would most likely be a ma-"

"We've ruled out Hermione," he said sternly.

"No, we haven't. I want to donate. I want to save her any way I can." Hermione said confidently as she threw the door open.

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