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Chapter 25 ~ The Stonehenge Wiccans
Sunday afternoon found Rick taking a walk in the Forbidden Forest ... or at least that was his alibi, in case anyone asked where he had been. Despite all his best intentions not to get involved in the affairs of this world, but rather, stay focussed on bringing it to an end, he was going to the meeting which the Death Eaters were planning to turn into a torture session – and a bloodbath. Rick had considered Apparating to the Headmaster’s office and seeking his advice on what he should do. But Professor Snape had kept his distance from Rick since that first eventful day when he had Apparated to the Headmaster’s office – only to discover that Snape, and not Dumbledore, was Hogwarts’ Headmaster. Snape knew a good deal more than Rick about this world, and obviously thought it safer for them to ignore each other – there were spies everywhere – even in the Headmaster’s office. So Rick was left to make the decision by himself. As soon as he was well into the forest, he used his Metamorphmagus skills to disguise himself as Neville Longbottom, who had been killed as a baby in this world, and wouldn’t be recognised. Then he Apparated invisibly to the London street where the meeting hall was located. Rick found a toilet, where he made himself visible, before entering the small hall. He found a seat towards the back, from where he was fairly inconspicuous, and could observe what was happening. The meeting had not yet begun. There were eighty to ninety people, mostly standing about in groups, laughing and chatting. Many of them wore strange clothes, and looked like they were out of some medieval painting. A few even wore robes and pointy hats. Most of them were in their thirties, forties, and fifties. Rick noticed a few younger ones closer to his own age and even some small children, who were running excitedly up and down the aisles. He spent several minutes carefully scrutinising everyone in the hall, but he didn’t recognise a soul. He’d had a hunch – well, a desperate hope, really, if he was being honest with himself – that Hermione would be here. She wasn’t, and he was bitterly disappointed. People began sitting down, as the meeting was about to begin. Out of the corner of his eye, Rick saw someone enter and sit down towards the back, on the other side of the hall. It was someone who looked very familiar—someone who looked like … Hermione! thought Rick. His heart began beating furiously. It was less than a month since he had seen her, but he missed her terribly. He had to remind himself that although it was Hermione, she didn’t know him – she probably didn’t even know she was a witch. She wasn’t dressed up in weird clothes like most of the others. She didn’t appear to know any of them; she sat by herself, looking about curiously at all the strange people. “Righty-ho then!” said a tall man dressed up in medieval garb, jumping athletically up onto the stage. “It’s ‘bout time we got started! I’m Robbie, for those of you who don’t know me, and I’m Chief Wicca of the Stonehenge Wiccans. Now, what we’re here for today, is to finalise the plans for our annual Spring Equinox Festival, which will be happening at Stonehenge in a couple of weeks. We want to make it bigger and better than ever this year. The key strategy, which we’re going to sort out this afternoon, is how to get the TV cameras there. We want to get the festival covered on prime time news, so we can get our message across to as many people as possible – that Magic really does exist. Now, what I propose —” But they never found out what he was going to propose, because at that moment, eight, black-robed, masked Death Eaters appeared on the stage – from nowhere. There was a collective gasp from the audience, who had no idea what was happening. The Death Eaters flicked their wands at the four exits, slamming the doors shut, and locking them. One of them flicked his wand at Robbie, sending him flying from the stage onto the people sitting in the front row. “Sonorus,” said one of the Death Eaters, stepping forward. It was Barty Crouch – Rick recognised his cruel, cold voice. “There’s been a change of plan.... You’re not going to be getting any messages across. There certainly is Magic, but none of you lot have a clue about it. Real Magic comes from magical blood – and those of us who have it, intend to keep it secret. Since you’re all so interested in magic, we’re going to give you a taste of real magic – before we kill the lot of you,” he sneered. A gasp of horror rose from the audience. Those near the aisles made a desperate dash for the exits, only to find them firmly locked. The eight Death Eaters now pointed their wands threateningly at the audience. “Cruc —” they began. But before they could finish, a loud voice boomed out “Squibbus.” The surprised Death Eaters looked about frantically for the source of the booming voice – and the sudden chill that permeated the hall. The audience, already utterly confused and terrified, had no idea what was happening. “Unfortunately for you Death Eaters, there has been yet another change of plan,” said the ethereal voice, which seemed to fill the hall, and yet come from nowhere in particular. “I suggest you stop pointing your wands around and attempting to curse these good people. You’re wasting your time, you know – I’ve just Squibbed the lot of you. Yes, Squibbed – as in, turned you ex-Death Eaters into Squibs. I’m sure you know what Squibs are – and what happens to them. You had better leave now, and hide – not from these good folk, but from your fellow Death Eaters and the Secret Security Service – Goodbye, Squibs!” One of the doors suddenly opened and the dazed Death Eaters were unceremoniously bundled out of the hall. The door slammed shut behind them. The astonished people looked around fearfully. What on earth was going on? “Please, relax, everyone,” said the disembodied voice in a warm, friendly tone. “You are all perfectly safe now. I locked the doors again because I have a most important message for you. One which I wish you all to hear before you leave.” “Who ... or what, are you?” asked Robbie, nervously. He was standing in front of the stage, looking about wildly, not knowing in which direction to address his question. “I am the spirit of a great wizard of yore. I have come here today to prevent those evil wizards from torturing and killing you. What they said, however, was partly correct. There is Magic, as you folk apparently believe. In fact, there is a whole magical world of witches and wizards who keep themselves hidden from other people. But, it is unfortunately, ruled at this time by a very wicked wizard, who hates all non-magical folk. “This evil wizard does not want ordinary people to know about Magic. He wants to keep the magical world secret. Your group has come to his attention, because you want everyone to know about Magic. Not only is he terribly evil, he is also enormously powerful. I cannot protect you from him again. I can only advise you, in the strongest terms, to disband your group forthwith and forget all about Magic. If you do not, you will surely be killed. Please take my sincere warning to heart! Adieu.” The doors suddenly sprang open, and the strange chill was gone. Everyone was talking at once about the extraordinary visitation. Some of the people got up hurriedly and quickly left. Others stayed, talking and arguing excitedly. Rick noticed Hermione leaving and followed her out of the hall. He knew he should just let her go and get back to school ... but he couldn’t – he had to talk to her. Rick followed her quietly in the weak sunshine of the chilly, London afternoon. “Err, excuse me,” he said, approaching her a couple of blocks away from the hall. She turned and looked at him suspiciously for a moment, before turning back, and quickening her pace. Damn it, he thought, she thinks I’m trying to pick her up. “I ... I just wanted to ask you what you thought about what happened back there at that meeting,” said Rick, drawing alongside her, and using his charm. “I don’t talk to strangers, especially ones that belong to crackpot groups like that one. Now please go away, and leave me alone!” she said forcefully. “Please wait,” said Rick, using all his charm to stop her running away. Hermione stopped and stared at him. “Why are you following me?” she demanded. “Are you some kind of stalker?” “No,” said Rick, “I’m not a stalker, honest; and I’m not a member of the Stonehenge Wiccans either. I just wanted to ask you what you thought about that meeting.” All the time he was pouring on the charm, and it was obviously starting to have an effect. “Well, if you really must know, I thought the meeting was a load of nonsense,” said Hermione, disparagingly. “I’ve never been to one of those meetings before; I only went ... out of curiosity, to find out what it was all about. I thought all the theatrics, with those men in black and the ghost, were quite absurd – I mean it was pretty obviously all part of some choreographed performance, intended to convince the gullible that there is magic and ghosts and all the other ridiculous nonsense those wacky people believe in.” “So, you don’t believe in magic?” asked Rick. “Of course not,” said Hermione, although she sounded a little less certain of herself. “What if I could prove to you that magic exists?” asked Rick, keeping up the charm. “But you can’t,” protested Hermione, “because it doesn’t!” “You don’t sound so sure of yourself,” said Rick, probing her mind. She was, in fact, extremely confused about magic. As he suspected, Hermione had occasionally performed Accidental Magic when she was angry or experiencing other intense emotions. Magic was the only conceivable explanation, for what she had herself witnessed, firsthand – but she simply refused to accept it. It was diametrically opposed to her scientific world-view. Nevertheless, there was doubt in her mind. It was that doubt, which had drawn her to the meeting this afternoon. “Could we just cross the road and sit down for a few minutes in that park over there?” asked Rick, indicating the large public park on the other side of the road. “If you just give me a few minutes, I can prove to you, empirically, beyond doubt, that magic does exist,” said Rick, ramping up the charm. “This is most unusual,” said Hermione, hesitantly. “I don’t make a habit of going to parks with strange boys....” Her desire to know if Rick could in deed prove the existence of magic overcame her scepticism. Rick probed her mind and could tell he had sparked her insatiable appetite for knowledge. “I suppose a public park should be safe enough,” she said finally. For all her rational objections to magic, she had experienced too many strange things in her life. Her scientific mind demanded an explanation, which she was unable to find in her extensive research on the subject. She doubted Rick would be able to offer her empirical evidence of the existence of magic, but she was so curious, that she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. And, unaccountably, she found herself strongly attracted to this stranger. They sat down on a secluded bench, at some distance from the many adults and children enjoying the park on a sunny winter’s Sunday afternoon. “OK,” said Hermione, “you have one minute starting now, or I leave.” Rick cast a Muggle Repelling Charm, as well as an Imperturbable Charm, around them, so they would neither be noticed, nor overheard. “You’re not giving me time to explain things first, or to take things slowly. I’m sorry, but you may find this a little scary – please don’t panic. Look at me,” said Rick. Hermione was utterly stunned as Rick transformed from Neville Longbottom into Rick Godfry. “Please don’t scream – it’s just magic,” he said, smiling at her. Hermione did scream, but due to the Imperturbable Charm, no one heard her but Rick. She leapt to her feet to run away, but Rick raised a hand and she was gently, but firmly, forced back down onto bench. “Calm down,” said Rick. “Take a few deep breaths. You are perfectly safe, you are in no danger.” But it wasn’t her physical safety that Hermione was afraid for – it was her sanity. She sat with one hand over her mouth, her mind desperately attempting to re-group into some semblance of a coherent world-view. After several minutes of stunned silence, she asked in a shaky voice, “Who or what are you?” “I’m Rick Godfry, and this is what I really look like. I disguised myself for that meeting. Oh ... and I’m a wizard. And you, Hermione, are a witch.” “Me? A witch? What do you mean? And how do you know my name?” asked Hermione, feeling very confused. “Yes, Hermione, you are a witch – and a very powerful one,” said Rick, ignoring her interruption with a voice of calm certainty. “I’m sure strange things have sometimes happened, when you’ve been very angry, or upset, or, perhaps, very happy. It’s called Accidental Magic. What I said in that hall about the magical world being ruled by a wicked wizard, is perfectly true. You should —” “What you said?” exclaimed Hermione. “What are you talking about?” “What you saw in that hall was no charade, it was all deadly serious,” said Rick, looking at Hermione, gravely. “Those people who suddenly appeared on the stage, the ones dressed all in black, are called Death Eaters. They were about to torture the people in the hall, and then blow it up, killing everyone inside, including you. The one who spoke, was one of my teachers from school – a school of magic. I found out what they were planning to do, and decided to try to save the people at the meeting. There was no ghost of course. I used magic to pretend to be a ghost, and I cast a spell on the Death Eaters which destroyed their magic – to stop them torturing and murdering everyone.” “But that’s just too far-fetched,” said Hermione, incredulously, “I ... I can’t believe it. Do some more magic. I want to believe you, but it’s all so ... unbelievable!” Rick looked around, to make sure his Muggle Repelling Charm was working, and that no one was watching, then he made himself invisible. “Do you believe me now, Hermione?” he said in his ghostly voice. Hermione put out her hand, then gasped and instinctively pulled it away as she touched Rick. “Yes, OK, I suppose I have to ... please come back.” But when Rick re-appeared, he was a grey tabby cat, sitting purring on the bench. As Hermione reached out a tentative hand to pat it, the cat turned back into Rick. “Oh!” said Hermione, pulling her hand away. “Goodness – yes, I do believe you. I mean, unless I’m hallucinating ... it must be true. Magic is the only explanation.” Hermione felt giddy, as if someone had just turned her whole world upside down. Her mind was in turmoil. “So why can’t I do magic, like you – if I’m a witch, like you say. Why can’t I turn into a cat?” she asked hesitantly. “Because to do magic, you need the innate ability – which you have – plus, you need to learn how to use it. When children with magical ability turn eleven, they start going to a special school for magic. But when Voldemort – that’s the name of the evil ruler of the magical world – came to power, just after you were born, he brought in many terrible, racist laws. One of them was that only the children of so-called Pureblood magical families could go to the magical school and learn magic.” “That’s terrible – it’s so unfair,” said Hermione, angrily. “I feel like I’ve been cheated of my birthright! Can you tell me all about the magical world,” she asked, clearly fascinated by this whole new reality, which Rick had suddenly opened her eyes to. Rick told Hermione about the magical world in this reality; about the Magistocracy and the Wizarding Breeding and Purification Program and about Voldemort’s plan to exterminate the Muggles. Hermione was shocked. When he had finished, she shivered, and said, “I’m glad, after all, that I’m not a part of that whole wicked world. Why is the wizarding world so evil? You seem ... very nice....” “Well, actually,” sighed Rick, “it’s my fault ... in a way.” “Why?” asked Hermione. Rick didn’t seem at all evil to her ... she found herself liking him – a lot. “It’s a long story,” said Rick, looking sadly down at his feet and sighing, not knowing where to start of how to explain it to someone who had only just come to terms with the existence of magic. “You see, fifteen years ago, Voldemort was supposed to have lost all his powers and to have almost died. The world was supposed to have been completely different – a much better world than this one.” “But, how can you know something like that?” asked Hermione, confused. “How can you say that something was supposed to have happened? – that the world was supposed to be different – that makes no sense at all.” “I know how the world was supposed to be, Hermione,” said Rick, sighing sadly. “You see, I lived in that world – until just a few weeks ago.” “What on earth do you mean? You’re not making any sense at all!” said Hermione, completely mystified. “A few weeks ago,” began Rick. “No, wait ... that’s not best the place to start. OK, fifteen years ago, this evil wizard, Voldemort, tried to murder a one-year-old baby, named Harry Potter. He’d just murdered the baby’s parents. Now ... at the point where he tries to murder the baby, there are two possible things that could happen. One is that he succeeds in killing him, and then he goes on to become the tyrannical ruler of the wizarding world – with all the horrible consequences I’ve just told you about – that’s this reality. “But, there’s another possibility, which is that he fails, when he tries to kill Harry Potter. His curse rebounds on him, destroying his body and almost killing him. He disappears from the wizarding world for many years, until he finally gets his body back, and though he’s trying to take over the wizarding world, he hasn’t succeeded – yet. That wizarding world – that reality – is a much better place than this one.” “You talk about this other reality as if it was real – as if it actually happened,” said Hermione, still perplexed. “It was real – until a few weeks ago,” said Rick, dejectedly. “In that world, Muggle-born witches and wizards – those born to non-wizarding families – like you, went to Hogwarts – the magic school. When you were eleven, you received a letter telling you that you were a witch, and inviting you to come to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to learn how to use your magical abilities. You were in the same year as Harry Potter, the boy that Voldemort failed to kill, as a baby. The two of you were best friends.” “But how? ... why? ...” asked Hermione, getting more and more confused, unable to grasp this strange other world. “But ... then what happened to this other world? How did it change into this one? Why did it change?” “It all goes back to that night,” said Rick, “when Voldemort tried to kill Harry Potter. In the world I lived in, he failed, like I said. No one really knew why he failed. People believed that Harry’s mother put some magical protection on him, and that when she sacrificed her own life, to save him, it became strong enough to protect him from Voldemort’s Killing Curse. The headmaster of my school sent me back in time to watch what happened when —” “Sent you back in time?” interrupted Hermione, astonished. “You mean witches and wizards can move about in time?” “Yes, some can, a few – but it’s dangerous. You travelled back through time – in this other reality. But, I don’t have time to go into that now. I’m, err ... I’m an extremely powerful wizard. I had the wand of an ancient wizard and with it, I could move about in time, at will.” “That’s just amazing,” said Hermione, shaking her head from side to side, utterly fascinated with the concept of Time Travel. “Anyway,” said Rick, “You and the headmaster had this idea —” “Me?” asked Hermione, intrigued. “Yes, you,” said Rick smiling at her. “You had a lot of brilliant ideas – you were the smartest witch in the whole school! We had a problem, you see. We had to find a way of killing Voldemort before he managed to take over the magical world, and turn it into ... well, into one like this awful reality. The problem was that he had a magical cloak that repelled all magical spells and curses, and made him invulnerable. But you and the headmaster figured that the curse which had rebounded on him, and destroyed his body, when he tried to kill baby Harry, probably damaged his protective cloak. So the headmaster sent me back to that night, to observe exactly where on his body, the rebounding curse struck him.” “You mean the spot was some kind of Achilles Heel?” asked Hermione. “Exactly,” replied Rick. “The headmaster repeated many times, most emphatically, that I must not change anything at all. You see, changing the past is the cardinal sin of Time Travel. Even if you try to change something for the better, it will almost certainly have the opposite effect.” “And you changed something.” guessed Hermione. “You changed something, which resulted in this Voldemort killing Harry Potter, and the good reality you had lived in changing into this nightmare reality. Is that what happened?” asked Hermione, anxiously. “No,” said Rick, shaking his head sadly. “I didn’t change a thing ... that’s the whole damn problem! I listened to Harry’s parents talking, before Voldemort arrived, and it really didn’t sound like they’d found anything that was going to stop Voldemort’s curse. There’s a very powerful magical spell called the Reflecting Shield. I realised that I could cast it, and protect Harry – and that it would send Voldemort’s curse rebounding back on him – exactly as it was supposed to have happened in my reality. I started wondering if maybe I was supposed to cast it.” “But that would have been changing the past,” said Hermione, thoughtfully. “And your headmaster said you mustn’t.” “Exactly,” said Rick. “As it got closer and closer to the point where Voldemort was going to curse Harry, I became more and more convinced that if I didn’t cast the Reflecting Shield, Harry would be killed – and everything would change. Finally, I decided to cast it. But just before I did, I had an idea. I figured that if I did nothing, just like the headmaster said, and things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to, then I could always go back again and do it right – cast the Reflecting Shield.” “Yes, that’s very clever. So what happened?” asked Hermione, totally absorbed, chewing nervously on her bottom lip. “The last thing I saw was Voldemort casting the Killing Curse. Then I was thrown out of the past, and back to my own time. But when I got back to Hogwarts, I discovered that everything was different, that the reality I had come from had changed into this terrible one – all because Voldemort had killed Harry – and survived unscathed.” “So why didn’t you go back, like you planned, and cast the Reflecting Shield?” asked Hermione. “Because, to travel in time, I need my special wand, and I discovered that in this reality, I don’t have it – Voldemort’s got it,” said Rick dejectedly. “Gosh! Yes, that was the flaw in your plan. If reality changed, then there was no guarantee that, in the new reality, you’d be able to travel back to that night, as you were able to in your old reality. You might even have been dead,” said Hermione, utterly fascinated by the complexities of Time Travel. “Yes, I can see that now,” said Rick, bitterly. “But in the heat of the moment, when I had to make the decision, it didn’t occur to me. But, I have a plan to get my wand back from Voldemort, in a couple of weeks, at the equinox. If I succeed, then I’m going to fix things. Because now I know for sure that I was meant to cast the Reflecting Shield.” Hermione seemed lost in deep thought for a while before completely surprising Rick. “Actually, I think your headmaster may have been right. You really weren’t meant to change anything.” “What do you mean?” demanded Rick. “Of course I was. In my reality, Harry had been protected by something. It’s obvious now, that it must have been my Reflecting Shield. So I must have gone back in time and protected him, if you see what I mean....” finished Rick a bit lamely and unsure of himself. “Yes, I do see what you mean,” said Hermione, cocking her head thoughtfully to one side. “If Time Travel is possible – and from what you say, it certainly seems to be – then if someone goes back in time and does something, then that event has always happened, just like every other event that has happened.” “Err, yeah,” said Rick, not quite able to keep up with Hermione. “But why did you say that I wasn’t meant to cast the Reflecting Shield?” “Because you didn’t – obviously,” said Hermione. But it wasn’t at all obvious to Rick. “But, I must have, or otherwise Harry wouldn’t have been alive in my reality, and Voldemort would have been ruling it.” “But you did cast your Reflecting Shield,” explained Hermione. “Or at least you will have. But not that time – don’t you see? You are going to get your wand back, and go back to that night again.” explained Hermione, smiling confidently. “The second time you go back to that night when Voldemort tried to kill Harry, you will cast a Reflecting Shield – and you will save him. “Everything will happen the way it was supposed to happen, in your reality. You’ll see where the curse hits this evil wizard – just like you planned – and when you return to your own time – everything will be the way it was when you left it. Nothing will have changed. Not only will it be true that you had always gone back to that night and saved Harry, but it will also be true that you went back twice, and in between you lived a while in this other terrible reality.” “You’re a genius, Hermione, you know that?” said Rick, shaking his head, amazed at the brilliance of her mind. “It’s been really nice meeting you, and all, in this reality, but to be honest, I could have done without it – err ... this reality, I mean.” “I understand,” said Hermione, smiling. “But you never know, something might happen – or you might learn something – in this terrible reality, which will be very useful to you when you get back to your own reality. Time and space have always fascinated me. That’s why I’m studying Physics at university. I’m really interested in Quantum Mechanics.” “But how could you be at university already?” asked Rick, amazed. “Surely, you’re still at school?” “Oh, I skipped a few years of school,” explained Hermione, nonchalantly. “I’m in my second year of university. Tell me, what does it feels like to move through time? Does everything flash past you like a movie rewinding at high speed?” “No, not at all,” answered Rick, trying to think of how to explain it. “It’s kind of like going to no place, where there are no sounds or light or dark or anything, really. I think of it as stepping out of time. Then I can step back into time at any point I want. It’s a bit like the corridor of a railway carriage. All the compartments connect to it – but they’re all in completely different times.” “Wow!” said Hermione, excitedly. “You know some physicists believe that there are a lot more than four dimensions – time is usually considered to be the fourth. They posit dozens of dimensions which we are unable to perceive. These other dimensions are right here, right now, right where we are. There could be anything in those dimensions – vast energy, mass, or nothing at all – a total void. One characteristic of at least some of these dimensions is thought to be that they don’t have time – it’s like everything is always happening. In fact, it sounds a bit like your railway carriage corridor.” Now it was Rick, who was struggling to wrap his mind around new and bizarre concepts. “Do you think when I travel in time, I actually move into some other dimension without time?” “Exactly,” said Hermione enthusiastically. “A dimension without time – which means that it’s connected to every point in time in the four dimensions we are familiar with.” Hermione was fascinated by the idea of Time Travel, and the possibility of going back in time and changing the whole thread of reality. Her mind moved from these abstract speculations to thinking about what it would mean if Rick succeeded in his plan. “I wonder how it will feel to me, if you succeed in getting back your wand and changing this reality back to your old one?” mused Hermione. “You’ll be a witch again, Hermione – a very powerful witch,” said Rick smiling at her. Hermione tried imagining herself as a witch, doing magic, and being part of a magical world which wasn’t evil, like the present one – with nice people ... like Rick. “So, that’s how you knew my name. Are you and I friends in your magical world?” “Err ... yeah,” said Rick, becoming embarrassed and looking away. “More than friends, perhaps?” asked Hermione, with a smile. “You’re my girlfriend, Hermione,” said Rick, letting out a long sigh. “In fact you’re more than my girlfriend. We have a special magical bond – we’re very close. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you – well not you, I suppose, but her – my Hermione, these past few weeks. It ... it’s been really wonderful talking to you like this, even though I know you’re not really her – although, yeah, I suppose you are. It’s very confusing.... I really need to get back to my school, now. I don’t want to arouse suspicion. I need to stay focussed on getting back my wand – and fixing things.” “Yes, you do,” said Hermione, smiling at him warmly. She could imagine being Rick’s girlfriend – she really liked him. In fact, she’d never met anyone half as charming. She felt sad that he had to go, that she’d never see him again – well not in this reality, anyway. “Could ... err ... would you mind if I ... I kissed you goodbye,” stammered Rick, shyly. Sitting close to Hermione like this, he had been fighting the impulse to hug her and kiss her for the past hour – it hadn’t been easy. Hermione smiled at him. “Well, since you are my boyfriend, I suppose it would be alright,” she said, grinning. It was just a quick kiss – after all, they were in a public park. “You can give me a longer kiss, when you get back to your own reality,” said Hermione, smiling. “Good luck, I really hope you make it.” “Yeah, me too,” said Rick sighing. He took her hand in his and squeezed it. “Goodbye, Hermione – I sure hope I see you soon!” Hermione looked one last time into his face – and then it was gone – she could still feel his hand in hers – then it too, was gone. She cautiously put her hand out to where Rick had been sitting. He was gone! Hermione sighed. This had been, without a doubt, the strangest, most amazing afternoon of her life. Well this life – anyway, she thought to herself.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
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