Take me where I've never been,
Help me on my feet again.
Show me that good things
come to those who wait.
Tell me I'm not on my own.
Tell me I won't be alone.
Tell me what I'm feelin' isn't some mistake.
'Cause if anyone can make me fall in love,
~lyrics from "You Can" by David Archuleta
Time seemed to stop. I heard and felt everything in slow motion. Katie's knee was pushing the breath out of my lungs and the dull knife slowly cut deeper into my neck as Katie hesitated. She finally lifted it with two hands, her weapon glistening a deep red in the moonlight.
She lifted it with two hands…
She had dropped my wand, and it was only inches away from my hand! If I grabbed it, I would be able to defend myself, disarm her…
But I didn't. I can't explain my hesitation, but I couldn't bring myself to take up my wand again. Maybe it was because I knew she was right, that I really was the cause of Nick's death, as well as Lizzie's, and Mum's and Dad's. I hadn't been able to protect them, and all four of them had died because of me. Because of my confidence in magic.
Or maybe I didn't defend myself because I wanted to see Nick again.
Katie shrieked and pointed the knife downwards. I caught my breath, but soon relaxed. I'll see you soon, Nick, I thought to myself, almost smiling. I'm ready to die.
At first I thought it had all been in my head, but Katie had obviously heard the sound as well. The forceful voice shocked both of us enough for Katie to stop the knife in thin air. It sounded so familiar, yet it was far away, high above us…
"DON'T TOUCH HER!"
I tensed. It was probably just an imagination, but I thought I saw someone high up in the clouds, like and angel…
He doesn't want me to die, I realized suddenly, whether or not it was actually his ghost that spoke. He doesn't want this to happen.
Katie shook her head and resumed her position.
"No more waiting!" she exclaimed, her eyes burning with hatred. "You die NOW!"
My courage returning to me, I seized my wand as she brought the knife down. I was going to be too late…
"PROTEGO!" came the voice.
Katie flew off of me as the shield surrounded my body. Her knife fell to the side. She scrambled to her feet as I rolled over and grabbed it. I stood up quickly, clumsily holding the knife outwards, just in time to see Katie running towards me.
"STOP!" I screamed.
But she was already running too fast. Her small frame crashed into mine, the knife in the middle. I felt blood cover my shirt and hands as the weapon was thrust into her stomach. Her face contorted in pain and her eyes glossed over in an instant as her full weight rested on top of me, buckling me to my knees.
After a moment, she rolled over silently, staring blankly into the stars. I numbly crawled to her side and yanked the knife out of her stomach. Blood fell freely onto the ground, staining the green grass red. I gasped for breath as I realized the truth.
She was dead.
I had killed her.
As tears fell from my eyes and sobs escaped my throat, I brushed her sandy brown hair out of her eyes, smearing blood on her forehead, and lifted her head from the ground. I fell down next to her, wishing I could die and be rid of all of my guilt.
She was my sister-in-law, and Nick's best friend.
At some point, I felt strong arms surround me and pick me up. The owner of them whispered consoling words in my ear, telling me everything would be all right. I stared into the face of the person carrying me, unsure of the identity of my rescuer.
"Nick?" I asked, my eyes drooping as I struggled to stay awake.
I heard him laugh softly. "Sleep, Hermione."
When I awoke, I was back in the clearing, wrapped up in my sleeping bag. Ron was filling a large hole in the ground with dirt, sweating profusely. When he finally put the shovel down, he turned, his face full of distress. He ran his fingers through his hair and glanced at me, not realizing I was awake, before changing his sweaty shirt into a clean one, then fetched some food—raisins—from my bag and sat down to eat.
I think it was about this time that I understood what had happened the night before. The voice above Katie and I was in fact someone in the sky, but it wasn't the voice of a ghost. It was not Nick's voice, no matter the delusions I was having, and it wasn't a voice that was just in my head.
But it was still the voice of an angel.
As I looked at him, I can't quite describe what I felt. He'd saved my life countless times and I'd never given him more than a second glance, but for some reason I couldn't stop gaping at him. Maybe it was because of all the pain I had gone through recently, or maybe I was finally realizing just how much Ron cared about me, but I felt a joy in having him with me like I'd never felt around anyone before. His words from two days ago came back to me in a rush, happiness enveloping my entire being:
"I'll never let you go, Hermione."
Similar words from another man came to me immediately afterwards:
"I will always love you, Hermione."
Both men were my best friends, and would do anything for me. Both had the ability to make me exceeding happy when I was in distress. Both had been through tough times with me as family members were killed, and both had offered their shoulders as comfort. Both had vowed to stay true to our promises in love or friendship to each other, in actions and in words.
Both were my angels.
Of course there was one huge difference between the two, and that had to do with the diamond on my left ring finger. Harry and Ginny used to tease me that I liked Ron during my fourth and fifth years at Hogwarts, and at the time it was true, but I'd never imagined and actual relationship between the two of us, and I certainly couldn't now.
We had never been even close to being more than friends; how could we when we were arguing all the time? We were completely opposite human beings in almost every way, and we usually couldn't bear to be alone with only each other for company for more than a few hours. We were always getting on each other's nerves, doing our best to put the other down. There was never a chance that we ever could have had a lasting relationship!
But Ron had changed…
As I thought about the way he held me the night Nick died, his constant words of comfort, his jokes, his laugh, his eyes…the way he caught my tears and ran his fingers through my hair when I was tired, how he always seemed concerned about me and what I wanted…
Why was I having these thoughts right now?!
It was only seventeen days since I'd run into my burning house to find the bodies of my husband and daughter, lying lifeless. It was three years back today that I had married Nick and devoted my life to him, given up magic for him. In five days, it would have been Lizzie's first birthday. I couldn't be thinking things like this!
And why was Ron staring at me?
I hadn't seen him put the food away or pack up the loose items around camp. I also hadn't seen him sit on the ground next to me as I was lost in my thoughts.
"Are you all right?" he finally asked, almost in a whisper.
"I thought I was going to lose you last night," he said, his voice cracking. "I thought you were going to let her kill you…"
He took my hand and looked earnestly into my eyes.
"Nick wouldn't want that," he stated firmly. "And I wouldn't be able to bear it."
I caught my breath as his thumb caressed my knuckles. Neither of us knew what to say next.
He pulled me towards him and wrapped his arms securely around me. I felt incredibly safe and—at the same time—surprisingly uncomfortable. My heart started beating faster than normal as I felt his lips near my ear.
"I'll never let you go, Hermione," he whispered. "I'll always be here for you."
I felt a sob escape my throat. Ron reacted instinctively, shifting our position so he would be able to hold me, run his fingers through my hair, whisper consolingly. I buried my face in his shirt, letting myself cry.
But why was I crying?
I myself don't know if they were tears of sorrow or tears of joy. Was I crying for Nick, Lizzie, and Katie? Or was I crying because of Ron's words?
Was I happy or sad?
Whatever the case, I let Ron hold me. There was something peculiar about it this time, something—awkward. It had never been awkward before for him to hold and comfort me. I had never felt this warmth and discomfort while he was consoling me. I felt his knuckles run up and down my spine and shivered.
None of these actions were new or different! He was behaving the exact way he had for the past week and a half—nothing had changed!
And yet, something had.
His words repeated themselves in my brain over and over again, as if I was searching for a deeper meaning in them.
"I'll never let you go, Hermione."
I didn't want him to ever let me go.
I wanted his arms to stay wrapped around me forever, to keep me safe. I wanted him always by my side; I didn't ever want to be separated.
By this time my tears had stopped. Ron started pulling away, and I held on tighter. I couldn't let him out of my sight, couldn't let him leave.
He was my guardian angel.
As if the devil himself could hear my thoughts, Alia was suddenly standing over us, a look of false concern on her face. She almost forcefully separated Ron and myself to look into my eyes.
"Oh, Hermione, are you all right?"
I glared at her and saw her eyes twinkle. There was no sympathy in her gaze, only hatred. She didn't care that I had almost died the night before. All she cared about was the fact that I was suffering.
And she wasn't about to let Ron comfort me.
"Leave her alone, Alia," Ron said strongly, startling us both.
Their eyes met for an instant, and I saw her face contort in pain. The stare that he gave her would be enough to scare anyone who was on the receiving end.
"Ron, I—" she stammered.
"No more, Alia," he said softly. "You will leave her alone."
She stumbled to her feet and stared at him, ash white. His eyes did not leave hers until she had entered the tent. Then they turned back to me, quickening my breathing.
"No one's going to hurt you anymore," he said, smiling.
I didn't know what to say. We sat there, staring into each other's eyes, trying to read the other's thoughts. After ages, I finally decided to speak.
"Thank you," I whispered.
He squeezed my hand and smiled. Without another word, he was back on his feet, cleaning up camp.
And I was still staring at him.
Alia came out of the tent only when Ron yelled to say he was taking it down. Then she sat by me, her face fallen.
"Hermione, I…" she started, then shook her head.
"I'm so sorry."
I glanced at her only for a moment before rolling up my sleeping back. I heard her sigh behind me and waited.
"I really don't know what came over me," she continued, shaking her head. "I was…awful, to say the least. I was a shrieking banshee during your hard times. I can't imagine what you've had to endure…"
She sighed again, and put her head in her hands.
"I don't deserve friendship with anyone in the Order," she stated sadly. "They all saw that. That's why I was never included…"
I placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled. "Don't get down on yourself. We all make mistakes."
She shook her head. I took her hands in mine and forced her to look at me.
"You're not a bad person," I said, surprising even myself. "Yes, you have made my life a living hell recently, but that can all be changed and forgotten. When I first met Harry and Ron, I was the most annoying little brat even I can imagine. Now we're best friends."
"I think I've lost my chance," she said, her eyes shifting to where Ron was folding up the poles.
I let go of her hands, shaking my head. If she wanted to be all doomsday because of Ron, then let her be. There was nothing I could say that would change her mind.
When we had finished, Ron came over and gave me a short hug before presenting me with my wand.
"Ready?" he asked. "Or do you want to wait some more?"
I looked at the mound of dirt where Katie was buried, and then at the hill in the distance.
I shook my head. "Let's go."
We all stood. The only things we were taking we our brooms—we couldn't have anything slowing us down.
Ron took my hand in his and held it firmly. I stared at our fingers before meeting his eyes.
In them I saw something I've never seen before. I can't explain what it was, but the emotion behind them caused my heart to flutter terrifyingly. He held my gaze for a full minute before removing his hand.
"We'll get 'em," he sighed. "No one hurts you and gets away with it."
He tucked a piece of stray hair behind my ear. I closed my eyes.
A/N: well, what did you think? did I do an ok job? PLEASE tell me the absolute truth! I want nothing less. Thank you so much for reading and please Review!!!!