Chapter One: The Bearer of Grave News
Hermione ducked, a green beam passing over her head amidst the fighting going on all around her. She scrambled back to her feet, running to where Harry and Lord Voldemort were duelling.
They were on one of the higher hills surrounding the school she had been attending for the last seven years. Hogwarts was a burning mass of rubble. Flames lighting up the night sky, as if the fires of hell were trying to escape.
She almost reached them, stopping in fear when Voldemort raised his wand at her friend. A bright green aura surrounded Harry, and she felt her heart miss a beat. He stumbled but stayed upright, and the light bounced back, hitting Voldemort instead.
Hermione lowered her wand, watching the Dark Lord fall to the ground. The sickly green aura surrounding him dissipated, revealing the smoking remains of a cloak.
Harry staggered, falling to the ground and Hermione ran towards him in panic. She felt like she was running in slow motion.
The fighting all around her ceased. All the Death Eaters were staring at the prone body of their Lord in disbelief. Aurors and Order members were surrounding them, raising their wands. The smarter Death Eaters, realising they had lost the war, were already surrendering. The naïve Death Eaters were trying to run, getting shot down by spells from those giving chase. The few who had surrendered were gathering into one area of the grounds. The Aurors were going to take them to the Ministry of Magic before going to Azkaban. Some of these Death Eaters wouldn’t even have a trial due to of some of the ghastly crimes they committed. Other members of the Order and Aurors were cleaning up the battlefield, checking the wounded, or covering up the fallen.
Hermione pushed her musings aside, more concerned for Harry’s well-being. Reaching him, she dropped to her knees and took hold of his cold, clammy hand. Panic shot through her, but this was soon dispelled as Harry opened his eyes. Hermione let out a breath of relief.
He smiled at her, his emerald eyes glinting in the fire flickering from the nearby rubble. ‘We did it,’ he muttered, his voice weak. The toil from having to avoid so many spells had worn him out. Voldemort kept him moving a lot, ebbing away at his physical strength first. The advantage this gave Voldemort had backfired.
Hermione’s eyes widened in astonishment when Harry’s scar dimmed in prominence. Before the battle, his scar had started looking like a fresh wound. It was just a thin jagged line now. Hermione smiled, tracing the scar with a smile. ‘You did, Harry. You saved us all,’ she said, ruffling his hair.
Harry closed his eyes, relishing in the freedom he felt. After a moment he frowned, looking back at Hermione in worry. ‘Where’s Ron?’ he asked, looking around for his red haired best friend from his position on the ground.
Hermione shook her head, helping him to stand and holding onto him as he stumbled due to his enervation. She sighed, looking around the field as well. ‘I don’t know where he is,’ Hermione said, trying to spot him amongst the lingering groups down the hill. ‘I’m surprised he hasn’t come to find us yet,’ she added, confused and worried. An anxious frown creased Hermione’s brow, and she got a better grip on Harry while making their way down the hill.
‘He must be somewhere. I hope he isn’t hurt,’ Harry mumbled to her, and she nodded.
Shouting from behind them diverted their attention. Lucius Malfoy was getting dragged away by Aurors, but he wasn’t going without a fight. They grabbed him, Disapparating with him to the Ministry. His shouts echoed in their wake before an uneasy silence settled once more. Harry and Hermione shared a glance, similar grins spreading across their mouths. Hermione shrugged before continuing to help him across the ruined grounds.
They neared the castle, intent on finding Ron, but a familiar voice stopped them in their tracks. They both turned with some struggle and stared in awe at the man standing before them. He looked as if he was not murdered the year before.
The old wizard smiled, his blue eyes twinkling behind his half-moon spectacles. ‘I suppose you are wondering why and how I came to be here?’ He mused, his tone cheerful. All they could do was nod back in answer, causing him to chuckle. ‘That is something I don’t quite know myself. One moment I knew nothing except peace, and then I found myself in the middle of a battle without my wand,’ he answered, shrugging.
The teens stared at him in astonishment. Harry was muttering gibberish, having no idea what to say. Hermione was, for once in her life, completely speechless. The first to react was Harry, stumbling towards the old man and hugging him. ‘It’s good to see you, Professor Dumbledore,’ he said with a smile, pulling back. Hermione followed his lead, giving the older man a hug and a small smile, still not sure what to say. She couldn’t get over the fact he was here.
‘Yes, yes, it is good to be back,’ he told them, smiling.
Hermione finally found her voice. ‘How…?’ she questioned, shaking her head. ‘Harry saw you die, Professor...’ Hermione trailed off, looking up at him. She just hoped he wouldn’t disappear again at any minute.
Dumbledore shook his head. ‘I do not know what brought me back, but there are more pressing issues at hand though,’ he told them. He received looks of bewilderment in response to this statement.
‘Professor?’ Harry questioned in anxiety, wondering what Dumbledore was insinuating.
Dumbledore smiled despondently. ‘When I arrived, I stumbled over Mr Weasley. He is alive in the Hospital Wing,’ he paused, becoming thoughtful. ‘Or what remains of the Hospital Wing,’ he corrected himself. He looked back at their apprehensive expressions. ‘Harry, will you go and check on him? Poppy deduced his condition and saw to his wounds, so I expect he will be sleeping,’ he requested of him with a smile.
Harry frowned at these words, wondering why he had not mentioned Hermione as well. Harry nodded up at Dumbledore. ’Yes, I’ll go straight there now. Come on, ‘Mione,’ he said, taking Hermione’s hand. Dumbledore’s hand on his shoulder stopped him. ‘Professor?’ he asked in misunderstanding.
‘I need Miss Granger’s help, Harry. I will see to it that she joins you both immediately after I have spoken with her,’ he explained. Harry nodded in understanding, giving Hermione a quick hug. He stumbled towards the mass of rubble that had once been the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It now lay in ruins due to the Ravenclaw Tower collapsing on top of it.
Hermione frowned, her eyes lingering on Harry while he struggled to climb over part of the collapsed wall. He disappeared into the castle soon after though. She turned back to Dumbledore. ‘You want to speak with me?’ she asked him, drawing his attention back to her.
‘Correct Miss Granger. If you would follow me,’ he told her, and she did, walking towards the ruined castle. They found a way in without much difficulty. Hermione looked around at the devastation, hardly recognising the place. Dumbledore sighed making Hermione look up at him. ‘Well, I always did want to refurbish the place. Make it a little more upbeat, if you will,’ he told her with a small smile, and she laughed a little.
Hermione followed him up the cracked marble staircase towards where the moving staircase was. They soon discovered that they had stopped moving for obvious reasons. Half of them had collapsed to the ground below. The ones remaining had stopped on the side they needed to get to, or had stopped in the middle. They were too far away to even jump across to them. Dumbledore took out his wand, pointing it at them. When they did not budge, he sighed and beckoned her to follow him around another way. They used the secret passage ways instead to reach their destination which, unfortunately, took much longer.
After much tribulation, partly due to Peeves, they reached the Gargoyle statue. It seemed to have lost one of its wings and was grasping it in pain. He looked up as they approached, his face scrunched up in agony. His eyes widened, and he moved out of the way, revealing the spiral staircase. Hermione frowned at the poor creature. ‘Are you alright?’ she asked it but received only a short nod in return.
She trailed Dumbledore onto the staircase. It began moving up towards a large oak door leading to Dumbledore’s office.
Hermione’s eyes were drawn to all the devices and instruments McGonagall had kept. She never had the heart to throw them away after Dumbledore’s death, as a sort of memorial for him. The office was still intact as the rest of the castle was collapsing around it. Hermione didn’t voice anything, watching Dumbledore with inquisitive eyes. He sat down in the chair behind his desk, letting out a sigh.
He looked up at her. ‘Please take a seat, Miss Granger,’ he offered, a plush chintz chair appearing before his desk.
She sat down in it. ‘What is it you needed to talk to me about, sir?’ she enquired, looking at him.
Dumbledore smiled grimly at her eagerness to get straight to the point. The smile faded, his countenance becoming solemn. ‘I am sorry, but it is grave news I have to bear, Miss Granger,’ he began. A troubled expression replaced her initial inquisitiveness. ‘I am afraid that despite your attempts to keep your parents protected from Voldemort... he murdered them three nights ago,’ he expounded, tears welling in his eyes.
Hermione found herself unable to digest this information and tears filled her eyes. She stared at Dumbledore in disbelief, and he looked back regretfully. There was silence between them as Dumbledore let her have a moment to lament for her loss.
The silence was only broken by her quiet, strangled sobs every now and again. After a short while, Dumbledore leaned forward onto the desk and touched her arm where she had hidden her face in them. She looked up at him in confusion, tears still lingering unshed in her eyes. ‘How…?’ she trailed off for a moment, choking out another sob before continuing. ‘H-How d-did you know? You w-were dead,’ she forced out through her strangled sobs. She tried to wipe away the remnants of her tears with little success as more came.
Dumbledore sighed. ‘When Muggles that have given birth to magical children die, they end up where our kind goes. Does that make sense?’ he explained, and she nodded. ‘To describe it in detail would be far too complicated and confusing so I will not. It would take too long, and it would be unhealthy to try and teach you anything now,’ he said. He received a slow nod and a slight frown in return.
Hermione sniffed, wiping away fresh tears. She stood up and looked at Dumbledore. ‘Is there anything else, Professor?’ she asked him miserably, her voice almost like a monotone as her heartache began to overcome her.
Dumbledore stood, giving her a small smile. He came around the desk, placing an arm around her. He walked her to the door. ‘Just one more thing,’ he told her, and she looked up at him, interest in her red, puffy eyes. ‘I have always found that in dark times a good book can work wonders as a cure for the disheartened.’ She frowned up at him. ‘I believe you will find one in the library, Miss Granger,’ he told her, his eyes twinkling. She nodded, not knowing what to make of this, but walked through the door he held open for her. She thanked him and went to get on the spiral staircase, but he called her back. ‘Oh and Miss Granger?’
She turned to look at him. ‘Yes, Professor?’
‘Remember to stop in to see Mr Weasley before going to the library to check how he is doing. I am sure that Mr Potter will also be wondering about your whereabouts,’ he told her. He gave her a small comforting smile, and she nodded without returning it.
Once the door closed, Hermione couldn’t stop the flow of tears that overcame her. She leaned back against the door as she thought about her parents. Where had she gone wrong when she sent them away for their protection? Where had she failed in making sure they were as far away from England as possible? She shook these thoughts away, attempting to control her emotions. She didn’t want Harry or Ron worrying about her, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready to talk about it just yet to anyone.
She stepped onto the spiral staircase which took her down. She walked off it torpidly as it reached the bottom. She wiped away the fresh tears that made a trail down her pale cheeks. She felt helpless and numb. The knowledge of her murdered parents made her feel like she had a gaping hole where only they had filled it. She knew when she had sent them to Australia that she would never see them again. The spell she had used on them was far too powerful. No matter what counter spell they tried, it could never be undone. It was knowing they were alive and building their new lives that helped her get over her woe. She knew that one day, she might be able to see them and build a relationship with them again. Voldemort destroyed that hope.
How had he found them? She wondered, turning into a hallway that was destroyed. The ceiling at the end was collapsing, and she would need to use another route to the Hospital Wing. She turned, going down another corridor which was untouched save for a few cracks in the walls. She passed an open door, looking in the room only to see that the outside wall had collapsed. She walked over, looking out at the clear sky littered with stars. She sighed, tears welling in her eyes again.
She turned back, continuing to wander the empty, silent halls towards the Hospital Wing. Her footsteps were echoing around her cacophonously, and she looked up at the long hallway, the darkness and silence were foreboding. It was out of the ordinary for Hogwarts to be so vacant of life. There had always been someone wandering around, or the ghosts would be hovering. This night there was nothing but the sound of her echoing footfalls on the floor to greet her.
It took Hermione a long while to reach the Hospital Wing. She walked through the destroyed door, half of one of them hanging from its hinges.
Harry was bending low over Ron’s bed, his head resting on his fists. She frowned at the sad, thoughtful expression on his face. She made her way over to him slowly so as not to startle him out of his musings.
He looked up at her as she looked down at Ron. He looked as though he was just sleeping. She caressed his pale cheek, taking a seat opposite Harry’s. She took the redheads cold hand in hers. She glanced up at Harry who sighed, and she noticed the tears in his eyes. ‘Harry?’ she called to him in curiosity as she took in his slumped shoulders.
He looked up at her for a moment, before looking back at Ron. ‘Madame Pomfrey can’t understand what’s happened to him,’ he whispered to her. He took off his glasses, rubbing his eyes roughly with the heels of his hands to rid himself of his unshed tears. He replaced his glasses after a moment. ‘She examined him with a spell. It showed about a 90% chance he won’t wake up from whatever has put him in this state...’ he paused, sighing again. ‘He’s in a coma,’ he finished as more tears sprung to his eyes.
Hermione stared at him, tears stinging her own eyes. She looked down at her redheaded friend, squeezing his hand. ‘Did she say what was going to happen? What she’s going to do?’ she questioned him, her voice cracking at the thought of Ron not waking up.
Harry nodded. ‘They’re moving him to St. Mungo’s tomorrow morning. Madame Pomfrey thinks he needs to be under more professional care. They will be able to find out exactly what happened to him with a few tests,’ he explained, and she nodded. There was silence between them for a moment as they looked at Ron. Harry looked up at her. ‘What did Dumbledore want?’ he enquired of her, and she looked up at him.
She shrugged. ‘Not much, just referred me to a book in the library,’ she half lied, not ready to talk about her parent’s deaths.
Harry frowned, not quite believing her, but let it go for the moment. ‘A book? Is that man for real? All Hogwarts is lying in ruins, and he tells you to read a book? If I didn’t know he was mental before I would think he is now!’ he chuckled, and she couldn’t help smiling.
‘Well you know Dumbledore, he’s a little eccentric, but he means well,’ she said. He nodded in agreement to this statement. They lapsed into silence once more until Harry stood up and stretched. Hermione looked up at him with a frown. ‘Where are you going?’
He sighed. ‘To get some shut-eye. I didn’t sleep well last night. Don’t worry, I’ll only sleep for an hour or so, and then I’ll come back,’ he told her. ‘Unless the Common Room got destroyed then I’ll be back in a few.’ He then turned on his heel without waiting for a response, walking out of the Hospital Wing.
Hermione frowned before looking back down at Ron. She stayed by his side for a little longer before she stood and leaned down to kiss Ron’s forehead. She ran a hand through his hair before she left the Infirmary too. She stood outside in the hallway for a moment, contemplating on what to do. Dumbledore’s earlier words about reading a book came back to her. Her eyebrows creased together in a frown remembering his cryptic message. She turned in the direction of the library as she was curious about what he had been speaking of.
From what she could make of what he had told her, there was a specific book in the library he wanted her to read. She wondered if it would be a book that could help her figure out what had happened to Ron. Maybe it would give her some insight on how to help him recover and wake up from his coma. Feeling a new sense of hope swell within her, she began making her way down to the library.
Hermione took a long time to reach the library. It had involved climbing over a lot of rubble. She finally found the cracked doors to the library, the wood splintered. She pushed them open, the top hinge breaking, causing one of the doors to swing towards her. She dodged to avoid it, moving into the room. She smiled as the smell of parchment and books washed over her. Her smile faded as a horrible feeling of solitude filled her. The library wasn’t used by that many students unless they were just in to get a book. They would leave as hardly any of them sat in the library. It was usually welcoming nonetheless. Hermione never noticed how sinister it was when it was empty. Hermione pulled out her wand, lighting the lanterns floating above the tall bookshelves. Some of them had toppled over, many of the books strewn across the floor. The light seemed to make the place seem a little more comforting, and she felt a bit better.
Hermione walked into the large space cautiously. The door which was hanging off its hinge broke off onto the floor with an echoing BOOM. She grasped at her chest in fright, standing still for a moment to calm down from her scare. After calming her nerves, she walked further into the room. She looked at all the books on the floor and the ones still on the bookshelves that hadn’t toppled over. Hermione made her way to the back of the library where the Potions and History books were. It was the place she always started first unless she needed a book in particular for homework. As she headed towards the History section, something curious and out of place caught her eye.
On the table, the one she always sat at to do her homework with the boys, was a medium sized leather bound book. It was dark brown, sitting in the centre of the table. Hermione became nervous and uncertain by this as it was not common to see a book left out. Madame Pince was protective of her books, always back on the bookshelves at all times when not in use by a student. She would always watch the students like a hawk when they were in use, so they were never damaged. That was not the point about why this troubled Hermione. The point was, the book looked as though it didn’t belong in the library at all. Also, it was too perfectly placed in the exact centre of the table. She felt it was almost as if someone put it there on purpose. Someone wanted her to find it.
Dumbledore’s words sprang to the forefront of her mind again. Hermione wondered if this happened to be the book he referred to. Wanting to be safe rather than sorry, Hermione took out her wand, whispering a spell over the book. The spell would distinguish whether it had a curse, hex, or jinx on it. After detecting nothing dangerous about the book, Hermione lowered her wand. She sat in her usual seat, staring at the book for a few moments contemplating on whether she should read it or not. With a slight frown, her curiosity got the better of her, and she reached out, sliding it towards her. She turned it over, looking at the bottom where there was something engraved. The writing had faded with time. She could just make out what it said through the stains covering the leather.
J. S. 10/07/1734
She stared at the engraved writing for a moment. She surmised it to be a date and the initials of the person who either owned the book or had written in it. She opened it, soon realising it was written by whoever J.S. was. It revealed a messy scrawl across the pages that was fading with age. The sides of the parchment were dog-eared and weather worn. She frowned at the faded writing; it was not easy to read because of how aged it was. Hermione attempted it anyway, her eyes skimming the yellowed parchment on one page. She could only make out half of a single sentence which read:
“They left me marooned on that godforsaken island to die as I watched them sail away on my ship. Them Mutineers had best beware because...”
Hermione’s frown deepened, finding similar sentences that she could read while leafing through it. They didn’t make any sense to her though. She wondered why on earth Dumbledore would refer her to read such an inexplicable book. She hoped it would provide information to help Ron, but it looked more like the diary of an eccentric pirate. With a growl of disappointment, Hermione slammed the book down on the table. She stood to leave, her chair falling backwards with the movement, and a loud bang echoed around the empty room. It was not the chair that had her frozen to the spot in shock. She looked down at the book on the table which was back to sitting in the exact centre.
The book was quivering before it flipped open of its own accord, the leaves flipping through at a quick pace. It reminded Hermione of what Harry had told her about what Riddle’s Diary had done before it showed him the past. Her heart fluttered like a trapped bird in a cage in panic when the book stopped at a particular page. It began emanating with a bright glow that engulfed the entire room. Shutting her eyes against the beam of light, Hermione felt nauseous. It was the same feeling of travelling through a Portkey at a fast pace. It stopped suddenly, and she splashed into the water.
Panic overcame her as she rushed to reach the surface of the water for air. She came up spluttering and spitting out the horrible salty sea water in disgust. She took in her surroundings wondering where she was. It was night time, and she looked up to see stars twinkling overhead. She looked around again for some land. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she spotted a large shadow in the distance. She hoped it was land so she could get out of the freezing water. She swam towards it, coming up to a wooden pier that held rowboats and other larger boats tied around it trimly. Hermione pulled herself up onto one of the boats with some difficulty and climbed onto the dock, her footsteps echoing on the wood. Shivering with the cold and unaware of where she was or why she was there, she walked along the pier. She came to a podium that had a closed black leather bound ledger sitting on it.
Hermione frowned in curiosity before reaching out a shaky hand to open it so she could find out where she was. Her eyes darted to the top of the book where, in big bold letters written in blue ink, was the title “PORT ROYAL HARBOUR”. Her frown deepened having never heard of the place in her life, but it sounded so familiar at the same time. She shook her head before scanning through the names in the ledger. She came to a date at the bottom written in the same blue ink as the title. As she stared at it in utter shock, she blinked once, twice, and then fainted onto the pier.
The date written within the ledger was “15th March 1745”.