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Chapter 18 ~ The Healer
It was fortunate, indeed, that Hermione had mastered the Animagus transformation, and that Rick was again sleeping in his own bed, at nights. On the very night that Hermione first succeeded with her Animagus transformation, Harry had his first nightmare, in over half a year. Rick was at Harry’s side almost immediately and placed a Silencing Charm around Harry’s bed so as not to disturb – or be disturbed by – the other boys in the dormitory. Harry was screaming fitfully – he was obviously witnessing something terrible. Rick probed Harry’s mind and entered his nightmare. It was a Death Eater attack. Rick recognised the house; he had been there only recently. Fear gripped his heart as he recognised the people being attacked – they were Hermione’s parents. He quickly made himself invisible and Apparated to the Grangers’ house. Rick was horrified by the scene he found in the Granger’s living room. Hermione’s parents were writhing violently on the floor from the excruciating pain of the Cruciatus Curse. Rick immediately levitated the wands from the hands of the two Death Eaters, breaking the curse they were holding the Grangers under. Rick only hoped he was not too late. It was obvious that the Death Eaters had kept them under the curse for a long time – and that their intention was not just to torture them, but to destroy their minds – just as Death Eaters had done to Neville Longbottom’s unfortunate parents. This was Voldemort’s revenge upon Hermione for escaping from Azkaban, and then eluding capture at Hogsmeade. Her Muggle parents were easy targets. What better way to make her suffer? “Squibbus,” said Rick in a rasping ghostly voice. He didn’t have time to waste with these Death Eaters. “I am the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor and I have just turned you both into Squibs – now, get out of here – and fast – before I subject you both to the same evil curse you have just been casting!” When the Death Eaters regained their wands, which had floated back down to them, they attempted to Apparate away from the ghost, but nothing happened. “You are Squibs – you cannot Apparate. You cannot do magic – ever again. Now run for your miserable lives!” The Death Eaters did exactly that, and were out the door and gone. Mr. and Mrs. Granger were lying unconscious on the floor. Rick saw that they were at least breathing. He wondered what he should do with them. Take them to St. Mungo’s? No, it wouldn’t be safe. They’ll be easy prey for Death Eaters there. Does St. Mungo’s even take Muggles? wondered Rick. No, I’ll have to take them to Hogwarts, to the hospital wing, he decided. Rick held their hands and Apparated them to the Hogwarts gates. Then he conjured stretchers, and used the Mobilicorpus Spell to float them to the castle. Rick remained invisible. If he encountered anyone, he would pretend to be the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor. He got the Grangers to the hospital wing and managed to rouse Madam Pomfrey. “Good nurse,” he said in his ghostly voice. “These are the parents of Miss Hermione Granger. They have been subjected to the Cruciatus Curse. Please see what you can do for them. I shall inform the Headmaster.” With that, Rick Apparated to the Headmaster’s study and quickly explained what had happened. Professor Dumbledore was immediately alert. “Yes, after his recent failed attempts to get at Harry, I have been expecting renewed attacks from Voldemort. It had not occurred to me that Miss Granger’s parents might be targeted – but perhaps it should have. Unfortunately, there are far too many soft targets available to Voldemort – and far too few of us in the Order to protect them all,” said Dumbledore in frustration. “I shall go immediately to the hospital wing and ensure that everything possible is being done for Mr. and Mrs. Granger. I shall also inform Miss Granger. Rick, please go back to your dormitory, and stay with Harry. Make sure he is alright. If necessary, please bring him to the hospital wing.”
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
When Rick Apparated to his dormitory, there was no noise coming from Harry’s bed; there was just the usual cacophony of his dorm-mates’ snores. But then he realised that he hadn’t lifted the Silencing Charm that he’d placed around Harry’s bed. Rick pushed his head through the hangings, to see that Harry was wide awake. Rick sat next to him. “Hermione’s parents,” began Harry, terribly distressed. “Death Eaters put them under the Cruciatus —” “I know,” said Rick. “I ... err, I heard you screaming about it, and so I summoned the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor. He went to help them, and brought them back here to Hogwarts; they’re in the hospital wing.” “Did he get there in time to save them, or are they ... like Neville’s parents?” asked Harry fearfully. “I don’t know,” said Rick, sadly shaking his head, not wanting to contemplate what the future might hold for them. “Umm, did you have any other dreams?” “No,” said Harry shaking his head. “And I really don’t want to have any more dreams like that....” “Well, I don’t know if you get to have a choice, mate,” said Rick sympathetically. “I know it must be horrible for you, having to witness such things – but it provides indispensable intelligence. I mean, your dream may have saved Hermione’s parents; and if there are more attacks, I might be able to alert the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor in time to save some of the people.” “Dumbledore said he’s been expecting something like this,” added Rick. “The Death Eaters have been quiet for months now. Voldemort must be getting frustrated at his failure to capture you – twice – over the Christmas holidays. Plus, Dumbledore’s back in control of Hogwarts now, which means that Voldemort can’t touch you here. Things had been going all Voldemort’s way. These are the first setbacks he’s had for a long time. Maybe he’s just angry and letting off steam – I sure hope it’s not the start of all-out war.” “Yeah,” said Harry yawning and closing his eyes. Rick decided to stay with Harry a while ... just in case. Just as Rick felt himself starting to nod off, there was a sudden gasp from Harry. He was dreaming again, and he looked very agitated. He began tossing his head from side-to-side, clutching at his scar with both hands. Rick probed Harry’s mind, again entering his nightmare. It was another Death Eater attack, but this time it was a big one – involving many Death Eaters. Rick focused hard, trying to locate the scene of the attack. He saw a sign reading Stournmouth, and he could hear people screaming in fear. Rick concentrated hard on the location as he experienced it through Harry’s mind. He made himself invisible, before Apparating. Rick found himself on a beach. Stournmouth was a small coastal settlement of a few hundred families. It was inhabited by a mixture of wizards, witches, Squibs and Muggles. There were no Pureblood wizarding families here. Nor were there many purely Muggle families either. They were a happy mixture, living contentedly together in this isolated, but beautiful coastal village. But tonight, there was neither happiness nor beauty here. Voldemort had sent his Death Eaters to exterminate the despised Mudbloods, Mixed-bloods, and Squibs. In the morning their bodies would be found littering the beach, hundreds of them; men, women, children, and babies. Not one was to be spared. Voldemort had decided that it was time to begin purifying the wizarding world of such filth – and striking fear into the hearts of any who were foolish enough to oppose him. Rick saw at once that the Death Eaters were in complete control of the situation. There were at least fifty of them. They had systematically broken into every house and driven the occupants down to the beach where they had them herded together. The witches and wizards amongst them had been easily disarmed. Masked Death Eaters now surrounded them on all sides, gloating and leering at them sadistically. They were enjoying their moment of power, with a whole village helpless before them. The fear was palpable. Frantic parents clung to their screaming children and babies. The whole gruesome scene was illuminated by an enormous Dark Mark, glowing an eerie green in the sky. It looked like the Death Eaters were about to begin their killing spree. They raised their wands to deliver the first Killing Curses, but a strange thing happened. Their wands kept rising until they were well out of reach. Next, the giant Dark Mark disappeared with a splutter, like a candle flame being snuffed out. It was replaced by a gentle white glow, which illuminated the beach and everyone on it. “Impedimenta,” boomed a loud ghostly voice. The Death Eaters stood frozen. “Good people of Stournmouth,” said the ghostly voice. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor, and I have come to save you from these evil Death Eaters. You are completely safe now – no harm will come to you. “You Death Eaters, on the other hand, have a great deal to fear. You came here tonight to murder these innocent people – men, women, and children. You came to strike fear into the hearts of all good people in the Wizarding world. Well, the tables are turned. Tonight I shall strike fear into the heart of every Death Eater. They shall know the fate that awaits those who attack the innocent. “I am sure you have all heard of me – of what happened to your fellow Death Eaters who attacked the Hogwarts students at Hogsmeade station recently. Perhaps you thought that I come only to defend Hogwarts students? Perhaps you thought that I would not move beyond Hogwarts? Be warned – and take my warning to your fellow Death Eaters – and to your evil master. Tell him that I shall defend all good people from him and his lackeys. I shall protect them all, be they wizards, witches, Squibs or Muggles. Wherever he attacks, I shall be there to wreak righteous vengeance against the evildoers. Prepare yourselves for my vengeance, evil ones - Squibbus! “Finite Incantatum! There, now you can move again. You can have your wands back too, although they won’t be much use to you for anything but firewood. You are all Squibs – for the rest of your lives! Any children, henceforth born to you, will also be Squibs. Now I suggest that you leave – very quickly – you may find that you are not particularly popular in this village.”
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When Rick Apparated back to his dormitory, from Stornmouth, he was relieved to find Harry sleeping peacefully. Rick was completely exhausted, and went straight to sleep. The next day was Saturday. Hermione was not at breakfast. Projecting his magical Hogwarts map, Rick discovered her in the hospital wing with her parents. They appeared to be in some kind of private room. Rick decided to Apparate to them. When he appeared, Hermione leapt from her chair and threw her arms around him sobbing. “Rick, it’s just awful. They haven’t regained consciousness, and Madam Pomfrey says that ... that, there’s nothing she can do to help them. She says they were under the Cruciatus Curse for too long – that their minds have gone, just like the Longbottoms. Oh Rick,” she howled in grief, “It’s just too terrible to believe. I don’t want to believe that they’ll spend the rest of their lives like ... like, this,” she cried, breaking down in his arms. Rick tried to send comforting feelings towards Hermione, but she was inconsolable. Hermione loved her parents dearly – Voldemort had devised the most heinous punishment imaginable for her. It would have been kinder to have simply killed her parents. In time, perhaps, Hermione might have managed to move on. But there was no moving on from this. And Harry, upon witnessing his friend’s grief and pain, would blame himself, and inevitably sink back into the mood of guilt, depression, and isolation that he had been in at the start of the school year. Voldemort had succeeded in achieving maximum damage. “Rick,” begged Hermione, through her tears. “Is there anything you can do? You healed Harry, yesterday, which means that you must have healing powers. I can think of several witches and wizards whose spirits have probably blessed you with their powers. There’s Gunhilda of Goorsemoor, Dilys Derwent and Mungo Bonham. And probably Aesculapius and Hippocrates as well – if they were wizards.” Hermione, Rick realised, had forced herself into research mode. He noticed a huge pile of books about famous Healers and magical healing on a table in the corner of the room. I guess it’s a defence mechanism, he thought sadly. It’s Hermione’s way of distracting her mind from the awful reality of her parents’ condition. She can believe, for the moment, that there might be something in one of these books that will heal them. “Actually, I’ve been thinking about it since last night, Hermione,” said Rick, shaking his head. “But I don’t know what I can do. With Harry’s leg, I could see his injury. I understood what was wrong, so all I had to do was focus my, err ... healing energy, I guess you could call it, on his injury and it was healed. I didn’t need to know how to heal it, but I did need to know what was wrong and where to focus my energy. With your parents, I can’t see what’s wrong. I just don’t know where to start.” “What about using Empathetic Magic,” suggested Hermione. “The way witches do with their babies, to find out what’s wrong with them. Won’t you at least try?” “Alright,” said Rick, sitting on the chair next to Hermione’s mother. He took her hand in his and focused his mind and feelings on her. “I’m sorry, Hermione, it’s not working,” said Rick, shaking his head after several minutes. “I hardly know your parents. There’s no connection between us to build upon.” “But I have a connection to them,” said Hermione. “Maybe you could try using me as a conduit to connect to them,” she said, desperately. I can sit on your lap and you can wrap your arms around me. If you focus on me, and I focus on my mother, maybe you’ll be able connect with her that way – through me.” “OK,” said Rick, “let’s try it.” Hermione sat on his lap, holding her mother’s hand, while Rick held her tightly in his arms. They sat that way for almost ten minutes, concentrating hard – so hard in fact, that they didn’t notice the door opening, and Professor Snape entering the room. “What on earth is going on in here?” demanded Snape, taking in the bizarre scene before him. Hermione sprang instantly from Rick’s lap – her face was crimson. “Err ... I can explain professor,” she stuttered. “It’s not at all what it looks like. We ... err, we weren’t ... err, what I mean is that we were trying to....” “Yes?” said Snape, menacingly. If he had any doubts about what they were up to, their acute embarrassment confirmed his suspicions. “Please do continue, Miss Granger. I am sure there is a perfectly innocent explanation for what you and Mr. Godfry were doing ... carrying on like rabbits in rut, while your parents lie comatose, in a state worse than death. Yes, please do explain....” “I ... I was just comforting her,” said Rick. He definitely didn’t want to start discussing what they were really doing. Snape was already suspicious enough of him, without mentioning his healing abilities. “Comforting her?” repeated Snape, arching his eyebrows. “Yes, I must say that the pair of you looked extremely comfortable. I would hardly think that this was either the time or the place – or indeed the appropriate circumstance – for carrying on ... like a pair of wanton, libidinous teenagers,” he added with a look of haughty disdain. This was too much for Hermione. She was already emotionally overwrought and at breaking point. Snape’s snide insinuations pushed her over the edge. “How dare you make such filthy insinuations!” she demanded, as she rounded on Snape, glaring at him in fury. “Do you have any idea at all how I’m feeling right now – with what’s happened to my parents? How can you be so beastly and insensitive – to accuse me of ... of, snogging – while my parents lie there like that – their lives destroyed?! Only an evil twisted mind, like yours, could entertain such macabre thoughts. And only a walking corpse like you – without a heart – totally devoid of human feelings and sympathies, could say such things to me, when I’m feeling so utterly devastated. I know you’ve hated me from my very first Potions class. But I never imagined that you could be this despicable. You’ve never missed a chance at putting me down. Even now, you just can’t resist the evil urge to put the boot in. Get out of this room and leave us alone – you disgusting Death Eater!” Snape was utterly stunned. His face turned deathly white. No Hogwarts student had ever spoken to him like that – not even in his own miserable student days. In fact, no one had ever spoken to him like that. The Death Eater accusation cut deeply, touching a raw nerve, which could sometimes be hidden, but never healed. He erupted in fury. “How dare you talk to me like that, Granger?!” he said dangerously. “I don’t care how upset you are about your parents. I don’t care what you and Godfry were or were not doing – don’t you ever talk to me like that again! Don’t you ever mention my past! It is absolutely none of your business. You have no idea at all what I have done in the past – or have had done to me.” Snape was livid. “Your insolent and disrespectful comments to me will cost you your prefect’s badge. I shall make it clear to the Headmaster that my continued engagement as his Potions master depends upon it,” he said. “I shall also be explaining to him, and your Head of House, that I have deducted two hundred points from Gryffindor, for the grossly inappropriate activity in which you and Godfry were engaged when I entered this room.” Before Hermione could say a word, he turned and swept towards the door, his cloak billowing angrily behind him. “Professor!” called Rick. Snape turned in the doorway, glaring furiously at Rick. But before Snape could say a word, Rick stared him in the eye, and said “Obliviate.” The expression on Snape’s face metamorphosised from extreme fury to disorientation and confusion, before finally turning to the usual inscrutable mask. “What are you doing here, Mr. Godfry?” he asked coldly. Rick and Hermione were now standing well apart. Hermione looked nervously at Rick. Verbally abusing a teacher was one thing, but memory-charming was quite another. Hermione was certain that it meant instant expulsion. She hoped that Rick had got it right, and that Snape wouldn’t realise what had happened. “Err, I just came to, err ... give Hermione some support,” answered Rick. “She’s very upset about what has happened to her parents.” “I’m sorry to hear about your parents, Miss Granger, the Headmaster asked me to examine them,” said Snape emotionlessly. He entered the room, and silently examined both Mr. and Mrs. Granger, lifting their eyelids and looking into their eyes with clinical interest. “A typical case of the Cruciatus Curse, deliberately applied for too long. Something I have been unfortunate enough to witness ... far too often. I am sorry, Miss Granger, but they will never recover.” Then glancing at the pile of healing books on the table, he added, “Many notable Healers have attempted to reverse this particular consequence of the Cruciatus Curse, but without success. I, myself, have searched for a potion to cure it – but again, without success. Unfortunately, I must tell you that nothing can be done for them. They are beyond help.” With that, he turned briskly, and exited the room a second time. Rick cast a locking charm on the door. Hermione was in tears again. After Snape’s comments, she had lost all hope. She was too upset to even want to discuss what had happened the first time Snape entered the room, and Rick’s audacity in using a Memory Charm to get them out of a very sticky situation. “Hermione, please don’t give up!” pleaded Rick. “Just because Snape – the master of gloom and despair – thinks there’s no hope, it doesn’t mean we have to give up.” “But what can we do, Rick?” asked Hermione, despondently. “What we were doing before Snape came in wasn’t working at all. I wasn’t able to establish an Empathetic Magic link with my mother. Maybe it’s not possible to connect with someone in that state,” said Hermione dejectedly. “I’m at my wit’s end. Have you got any other ideas?” “I don’t know,” said Rick thinking. “We don’t know whether it is or isn’t possible to connect using Empathetic Magic with your parents in their current state. So we just have to assume that it’s possible – it’s our only hope. What we do know is that I can’t connect to them – either directly, or through you – it just doesn’t work.” “So, where does that leave us?” asked Hermione gloomily. “Maybe it’s possible for me to transfer some power to you, so that you can make the connection yourself,” said Rick thoughtfully. “But that’s not possible, is it?” asked Hermione sceptically. “I’m not sure,” said Rick slowly. “Maybe it is. Over Christmas, Harry and I spent a lot of time together practicing duelling, and I’m sure that his magical energy really received a big boost – although it wasn’t something I set out deliberately to do. Remember how he managed to cast the Reflecting Shield and hold it for so long, even against Unforgivable Curses when the Death Eaters attacked at Hogsmeade station?” “Yes,” said Hermione, uncertainly. “But Harry was already an excellent dueller, and he was already a very powerful wizard. You didn’t give him any new powers; you just boosted what he already had. But I’ve only ever been on the receiving end of Empathetic Magic. I mean, I’ve studied a great deal about it, but I’ve never actually used it – I don’t really know how.” “Hermione, don’t forget that you and I have a special link. If there’s anyone I can transfer magical power to, it’s you,” said Rick encouragingly. “I’m going to try to transfer Empathetic Magic power to you. If it works, then you might be able to connect with your parents, and be able to understand what the problem is. If you can figure out what’s stopping them from regaining consciousness, and identify exactly where it’s located, then I can try using my healing powers on them. I know it seems like a long shot, but it’s the only thing I can think of, that might possibly help them. Are you willing to give it a go?” “OK,” said Hermione, doubtfully. “I think I’m ready to try just about anything at this point. So how are you going to do this power transfer?” “Err ... let’s try embracing,” said Rick. “Don’t worry, it’s alright, no one will get past the lock I’ve put on that door. Now, try to be receptive, try to absorb the energy you feel coming from me, OK?” “OK,” said Hermione, embracing Rick. Hermione had no idea how long they embraced. Her mind seemed to stop. She felt like she was no longer in the room, in the hospital wing – or even in the school. She felt like she was ... nowhere – and yet everywhere. She was no longer even aware of Rick. She became aware of the presence of several beings. Are they spirits? Are they some of the great witches and wizards who have given Rick his powers? she wondered. Their presence felt benign. One of these spirits approached her. It whispered, “I grant you the power of Empathetic Magic.” Then another spirit approached, and a warm kindly voice whispered, “I bless you with healing powers – you shall be a great Healer.” All the while, Hermione was aware of waves of warmth flowing through her. Her whole body tingled with the subtle vibrations surrounding her and flowing through her body. She felt every part of her being absorbing the waves of warmth. Finally it ended. Rick released her. Hermione excitedly told Rick what she had experienced. “That’s odd,” said Rick, shaking his head. “I was concentrating on transferring Empathetic Magic power to you the whole time. It never occurred to me to try transferring healing power as well. It’s a bit like what happened with Harry. It wasn’t really me who was in control. I wasn’t really doing anything, I was just the conduit. It looks like the spirits of the great witches and wizards of the Light decided that you were worthy of greater gifts,” said Rick, kissing Hermione. “I just hope I can help my mother and father, now,” said Hermione, coming down from her high, to the desperate reality of her poor parents. She sat down next to her mother, taking her hand and concentrating hard on her face for several minutes. Then she did the same with her father for a few minutes, before returning to her mother. “It’s fear,” said Hermione, finally. “The pain from the Cruciatus Curse was unbearable – but the fear it created was even worse. It was fear of the pain that caused them to fall into a coma – fear that the pain would never end. The mind tried to protect itself from this unbearable and overpowering fear, by switching itself off – or more correctly – by hibernating.” “But how did you manage to connect with your parents if their minds are hibernating?” asked Rick, puzzled. “Not the whole mind is hibernating; there are some localised thoughts and feelings that are still active,” explained Hermione. “The problem is that the controlling part of the mind – the part that initiated the hibernation – and needs to terminate it – is, itself, hibernating. If it stays this way for too long, then the hibernating brain cells will start dying off. Fortunately, that hasn’t started happening yet. I know exactly where the controlling part is located. I think I can actually force it to awaken.” “Gosh, I just hope this works,” said Rick, cautiously. “But hang on, Hermione. If they regain consciousness, they’ll immediately remember being under the Cruciatus Curse – as if it was happening only moments ago. They’ll be full of fear and terror. Their minds might even try to hibernate again. Even if they don’t, they’ll be completely traumatised.” “So, you’ll have to memory-charm them, Rick. You need to do it the instant they regain consciousness, so they don’t remember anything about the attack.” “Good idea,” said Rick, nodding in agreement. “OK, I’m ready when you are.” Alright, let’s try my mother first,” said Hermione, placing her hands on either side of her mother’s head and concentrating hard. It seemed to Rick that she stayed that way for ages, unmoving, her mind seemingly elsewhere. Then, suddenly her mother’s eyes sprang open – they were wide with fear. Rick quickly Obliviated her. Then her eyes closed again. “What happened?” screamed Hermione. “I thought she was OK, but she’s lost consciousness again.” “Relax,” said Rick. “I stunned her – err just lightly – after Obliviating her. We don’t want her to see your dad, in the state he’s in, or what we’re about to do to him. She wouldn’t understand – she might become hysterical, or try to interfere.” “Clever idea,” said Hermione, relieved, as she set to work on her father. It went more quickly this time, as Hermione knew exactly what to do. As soon as Hermione had restored him to consciousness, Rick Obliviated him, then immediately did a Finite Incantatum on Mrs. Granger. Hermione was beside herself with joy, at the sight of her parents both conscious, once more. She had all but given up hope that she would ever see them like this again. Hers parents were bewildered and confused as they looked around and took in their surroundings. “Hermione!” said her mother. “Where are we? How did we get here?” “The last thing I remember, I was sitting in my favourite chair in the lounge, reading,” said Mr. Granger, sitting up in his bed. “What on earth has happened to us? Something magical perhaps?” he asked suspiciously. “Umm, Mum, Dad, please don’t worry,” said Hermione gently, holding her mother’s hand comfortingly. “You were attacked last night, by evil wizards. Rick —” “Err ... don’t you mean the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor, Hermione?” Rick interrupted, looking at her meaningfully. “Err ... yes, that’s right. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. You were rescued and brought here to Hogwarts. This is the hospital wing. You were both unconscious until just now – I’ve been so worried, you have no —” But Hermione was cut off at that point by thumping and banging on the door. Rick nodded his head towards it and it sprang open. Professor Snape, who must have been pushing on it, came stumbling into the room, almost falling to the floor. He didn’t immediately look at the beds, but fixed his eyes suspiciously upon Rick. “What exactly did you do to that door, Godfry?” he demanded. “How did a sixth year student manage to place a locking charm on it that neither I, nor the Headmaster, could penetrate. Would you care to explain?” “Professor Dumbledore,” shrieked Hermione as she noticed the Headmaster entering the room, behind Snape, his blue eyes twinkling as he took in the sight of her parents, very much recovered, in their beds. “My parents are alright – both of them!” “Impossible!” exclaimed Snape. But he had to believe his own eyes. Mr. Granger, still attired in his clothes from the previous evening, had swung his legs over the side of the bed, and was looking around for his shoes. “May I?” asked Snape, although it was more of a statement, as he strode over to Mr. Granger, lifting his chin, and staring intently into his eyes. “What is your name?” Mr. Granger was somewhat taken aback by Snape’s rude behaviour. However, he answered politely, “I’m Bob Granger. This is my wife, Janice and this,” he said, nodding proudly towards Hermione, “is our brilliant daughter, Hermione. There, does it sound like I am in possession of all of my faculties?” Snape didn’t reply. He just stood there staring at Mr. Granger as if he were some kind of freak – a scientific impossibility. “Oh, and by the way, I’m a dentist,” added Mr. Granger. Then addressing Snape in a professional voice, he added, “Look, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but I always look at people’s teeth when I first meet them – it’s an occupational habit, you might say. Err, nothing personal, old chap, but I couldn’t help noticing that yours are in desperate need of attention. Since you appear to be one of my daughter’s teachers, I’d be more than happy to offer you a free check-up. I’m sure I could get those teeth of yours cleaned up quite nicely – I’ve never seen such yellow specimens in all my professional life. Janice, dear, you must take a look at this poor chap’s teeth, they’re really quite, err ... unique.... Actually, I might get a picture or two for a research paper that I’m writing, while I’m about it. Some before and after shots – if you see what mean?” “No thank you,” spat Snape, with arrogant ire. “I have absolutely no desire to place any part of my body in the hands of barbaric Muggle medical or dental hacks.” He turned his back on the Grangers, ignoring them as one might ignore house-elves, servants, or other inferiors. “Headmaster, I can find no explanation for their remarkable recovery. I examined them myself, not half an hour ago. As you know, I have been unfortunate enough to have examined others in the same state. Recovery is utterly unheard of. Perhaps Miss Granger – or, more to the point, Mr. Godfry – would care to tell us exactly what happened,” he said, turning a hard interrogating glare upon Rick. “Now, now, Severus,” said Professor Dumbledore. “There will be time for questions later. I, for one, am more concerned to find out how our guests are feeling and to offer them Hogwarts’ hospitality. Mr. and Mrs. Granger, welcome to Hogwarts. May I offer you some refreshments?” This had the desired effect of inducing Snape to leave the room, muttering something about checking up on some potion he was brewing. Professor Dumbledore summoned up tea and scones for the Grangers, and made them feel welcome. After ascertaining that they were sufficiently recovered from their ordeal, he ventured on to a more serious subject. “It is my unfortunate duty, to have to inform you, that it is not safe for you to return to your home and your former lives. The evil wizards who attacked you last night would most certainly return.” “But what can we do?” asked Mr. Granger. “Fortunately, those who perpetrated last night’s attack, think that you are both in a permanent coma, from which you will never recover. Your recovery is, in fact, quite remarkable,” added the Headmaster, looking meaningfully at Rick. “That is why Professor Snape was so surprised to find you conscious when we entered the room. We can use our enemies’ ignorance of your recovery to our advantage. You will have to start a new life, preferably somewhere distant. Until our enemies are defeated, you will need to remain there, and Hermione will have to pretend that you are in a hospital, somewhere, in a permanent coma. It is the only way to protect you and keep you safe.” “Why don’t we just bring our retirement plans forward a few years, Bob?” Mrs. Granger asked her husband. Then turning to Professor Dumbledore, she explained, “We were planning to give up our practice in a year or two, and retire to the Greek Islands. We even have a spot picked out. Of course, it’s not really retirement. We both want to devote ourselves to writing and reviewing academic papers. To be honest, we’re both getting a little tired of our practice; this will give us an excuse to give it up a little sooner.” “That sounds perfect,” said Dumbledore, happily. “I have colleagues who will help you get everything organised and get you off to your Greek island without anyone knowing a thing about it. Please leave it up to me, I shall arrange everything. Now if you will excuse me, I need to have a conversation with Mr. Godfry. I’ll be back a little later to get you started on your new life.”
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Hermione found it difficult maintaining the charade that her parents were in a permanent coma, but for the sake of their safety, she had no choice. There were children of known or suspected Death Eaters at Hogwarts who might be asked by their parents about her behaviour, so she had to maintain a public demeanour of sadness and loss. It was particularly difficult dealing with the well-intended sympathy of her friends. Hardest of all to deal with were Neville’s sincere attempts at commiseration. At last he felt there was someone he could open up to, who understood how it felt. Hermione felt very sympathetic towards Neville, but she also felt deceitful and hypocritical. Eventually, she let it be known that she preferred not to discuss her parents. To others, it just looked like she was bottling it all up. Harry was the only one who had been told the truth – although not the details of how Hermione’s parents had been healed. Professor Dumbledore did not want Harry blaming himself for a tragedy which was in fact a sham.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Please leave a review ... it only takes a moment Coming up: Chapter 19 ~ Hogwarts Destroyed

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