You're my Density

Just Suppose Harry hadn't heeded his godfather's advice, and actually lost his temper at his trial? Time travel fic and title is 'Back to the Future' joke.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11033616/1/You-re-my-Density

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28. Tears for Hermione

Amelia detested what she was about to do but really didn't have another option available. What they had here was an incident of a muggle attacking a witch. An Order of Merlin, First Class holding witch, in front of a few hundred underage witches and wizards, to be precise. The law of the land did not recognise the situation as a family tragedy so Amelia really had to play this one by the book. That Emma was someone she counted as a friend just added more emphasis to the need to do this by the numbers. Not for one second did she consider the possibility that Emma could be guilty, Amelia just had to prove Emma's innocence beyond any doubt to everyone else.

She had four aurors and a court scribe in a screened-off part of the Hogwarts infirmary. It was time to start the proceedings. Amelia spoke her name, position in the D.M.L.E. along with the date and time before each auror in turn did the same. Amelia then described the scene for the scribe to record.

"The suspect, one Emma Granger - muggle professor at Hogwarts and mother of her victim, is restrained on a bed in the Hogwarts infirmary. She is conscious but hasn't said anything. It has now been over an hour since the attack took place, and the suspect has been in custody since seconds after the attack was carried out. We are therefore discounting the use of polyjuice potion for the moment. I will now cast the counter curse to the imperius and then Auror Shacklebolt will administer truth serum."

No sooner had Amelia cast the counter curse than Emma was shrieking like a banshee, screaming her daughter's name over and over. She fought the restraints, desperate to see Hermione, but the application of the truth serum soon dampened her emotions. Seeing this, Amelia asked her first question.

"What is your name?"

"Emma Granger"

That officially ruled out polyjuice but Amelia now needed to establish they were dealing with the horrible curse that was going to see someone spending the rest of their life in Azkaban for casting it on Emma - but only if Harry didn't get to them first.

"Why did you attack Hermione Granger?"

"I was ordered to, I fought the order with everything I had but couldn't stop myself."

With the Imperius curse now established as the cause here, and her friend's innocence established, Amelia asked the question she really hoped Emma knew the answer to.

"Do you know who ordered you to attack Hermione?"

"Yes, the professor who was sent to prison for attacking Harry. I think his name was Snape but it was definitely the same man whose picture was in the Prophet."

-oOo-

Emma turned to see the stranger in their practice. She was just about to tell this man they were closed for the night when recognition kicked in. Before she could react however, his wand had her feeling all floaty - almost as if she'd taken some pre-op drugs.

Recognising that her mind was in a suggestible state though proved no defence when this bastard started issuing orders. While she was mentally screaming inside, her body was like some kind of automation that had to obey his orders.

"Take this blade and cut your daughter with it tonight. After you have achieved this, stab yourself with the same blade. Under no circumstances are you to cut yourself - or anyone else - before cutting your daughter. You will behave as normal, giving no warning of your intentions, right up until you cut her."

Dan was given the exact same orders, only with Harry as his target. After being made to verbally repeat their orders, Snape dissapirated away.

"The missis called for Darla?"

Dan was helping Emma on with her coat as she answered the elf. "Yes, I want you to take Dan and I to Hogwarts."

"Missis is going to Hogwarts? Dobby and Darla thought youse were coming home…"

"We just want to surprise Hermione and Harry."

"Does Missis want Darla to fetch Dobby?"

"No, Darla, I want you to take Dan and I to Hogwarts."

After being issued an order by her family, Darla had to comply. She popped both of them to the castle.

Walking into the great hall, Emma spotted her target within seconds. Hermione was running straight to her, then she would carry out her orders. When Hermione suspiciously stopped, Emma was left with no option but to act. Her arm flashed out and the blade opened Hermione's cheek to the bone. Seeing all the blood, Emma was about to stab herself when she suddenly couldn't move. That was the last thing she remembered.

-oOo-

Everyone listening now felt nothing but sympathy for this mother, forced to try and murder her child. Amelia had one more question. "Did you know the blades were coated with some kind of poison?"

Even under the neutralising influence of the truth serum, it was impossible to miss how big an impact that news had on Emma. She barely managed a 'no' before becoming hysterical again.

-oOoOo-

Harry was of course beside Hermione's bed. Hermione didn't know this however, having been placed in stasis the instant Madam Pomfrey had detected there was some dark poison at the site of the wound. It not only thwarted her attempt at healing the large gash but was actively attacking Hermione's body. She was now in stasis, and the left side of her face was swathed in bandages.

Sirius, Susan and Luna were there too though Harry's attention was currently focused on the smallest pair of visitors. Dobby had his arms around a sobbing Darla but the male elf's anger at the current situation was probably only matched by that of Harry.

"Darla, You did what Emma asked you to. You then warned Dobby you thought something was wrong. Dobby froze Emma and Dan the instant they attacked Hermione, allowing us to cast stunners. Do you think Dobby or me were too slow to react?"

"Oh no sir. You and Dobby were wonderful."

"So were you, Darla. Your warning bought Dobby and me the time to act. There were a lot of mistakes made here, we all got too comfortable and let our guard down. We'll sit down and discuss this as a family when Hermione is back with us."

As hard as he tried, Harry couldn't keep the tremor out of his voice as he said that last bit. Emma's loud shrieks of Hermione's name however pushed everything else to the back of his mind.

"I'll need to go and see Emma. Sirius, can you and the girls stay with Hermione?"

All three quickly said they would before Harry issued what were nothing less than orders. "Dobby, protect Hermione. Nobody but Madam Pomfrey or us to get anywhere near her. Anyone who wants to argue, stun first and we'll deal with it when I come back. Darla, please come with me."

Nodding, Dobby then issued an order of his own. "Darla, protect our family. We don't know if anyone else was involved in this."

Now having an important job to do, Darla's tears quickly stopped. Walking over to Harry, he held his hand out. Harry walked to the area of the infirmary where Emma was being questioned holding the elf's hand - with both elf and wizard drawing comfort from the contact.

The aurors of course spotted their entrance, their boss waving the pair in ended any concerns they might have had. That changed when the woman on the bed implicated Snape in the attack, the magic appeared to be pouring out of the boy. Amelia's hand on his arm calmed him somewhat, as did his clear concern for the woman answering the questions.

Witnessing Emma's reaction to the news about the poisoned blades saw Harry gently push past Amelia, remove the magical restraints from Emma and take her in his arms. Her extreme emotional state was enough to burn off the last of the truth serum's effects, she broke down sobbing while clinging to the boy she hoped would someday officially become her son.

Knowing Emma couldn't manage to talk at the moment, Harry gave her the news she was desperate for. "Hermione is in stasis for now while the ministry's best people search for an antidote to whatever poison he used. Snape wanted you and Dan to murder us, then cover his tracks by you both killing yourselves. We'll get him, Emma, just as soon as Hermione's back on her feet."

The mother in Emma recognised Harry needed this hug as much as she did. With that recognition came something else, her children needed her. With that thought, Emma took the first step into regaining control of her emotions. It was gonna take a little while though as they desperately clung to each other.

Sirius saw Dobby switch attention and his wand was out before realising it. Turning his head he spotted Remus and Neville approaching. Holding his hand up to the pair, Sirius then spoke to the elf.

"Dobby, Neville is going to take my seat while I talk to Remus. We'll be standing just over there and won't leave your sight."

After a moment Dobby nodded his agreement. Sirius had a quick word with Neville. "Sorry about that, but Harry left Dobby strict orders to protect Hermione. After what happened earlier we don't know who to trust so he'll stun anyone even looking the wrong way at Hermione."

"It's fine, Sirius. I just wanted to see my friend. If I twitch the wrong way, Dobby is welcome to stun me. Hermione is the important one here."

After a pat on his shoulder from Sirius, Neville slowly sank into the vacated chair. Sirius moved over to talk with Remus.

"Would that elf really stun someone?"

"Remus, had that been anyone else but Emma who attacked Hermione tonight, you would have witnessed a murder in the great hall. Dobby loves that girl lying there nearly as much as my godson does. It would have been a case of who ripped the lungs out of her attacker first. Hermione is rather easy to fall in love with though, she has a goodness about her that is only matched by her bravery. That girl is the reason I'm standing here a free man. She just has to recover..."

Sirius had tears running down his cheeks and he wasn't ashamed of them. Amelia appeared and kissed her soon to be husband. He quietly asked for confirmation.

"Imperius?"

"Yes, cast on them by Severus Snape. Dan's target was to be Harry, then they were supposed to stab themselves."

Closing his eyes, only his arms around Amelia allowed Sirius to reign in his explosive temper. While his voice was still low, there was no mistaking the determination it contained. "You know he's a walking dead man?"

Proud of Sirius' control, Amelia kissed him again. "Love, give me half a chance and I'll kill the bastard myself. I have to go through the formality of interviewing Dan now, not something I'm looking forward to. You do know that Snape's involvement means this poison is probably one he designed himself?"

Sirius had known that from the instant Amelia mentioned the hated name, and also what it did to Hermione's chances. He gave her a final kiss before offering some words of encouragement. "Go clear Dan. We'll need our family together to face this."

Watching Amelia walk away, Sirius spoke to his friend. "There's a part of me that wishes James had never stopped that greasy bastard meeting Moony while we were at Hogwarts, fuck the consequences. I'm trying to be a better man though, and I have a good idea what that would have done to you. I will kill that murdering death eater bastard, even if only to save Harry having it on his conscience."

"Sirius, I'm really sorry. Sorrier than I can say for what happened tonight, and so sorry for what I said... I was a fool"

"It's okay, really it is - and I'm sorry for punching you one. I understand how keeping you at arm's length must be making you feel but it wasn't my call. Those two have to be so careful who they trust, Remus, you can clearly see why. I immediately vouched for you but they logically took that backing apart. I haven't seen you in over a decade, a decade that has certainly changed me. They have nothing against you, and certainly not your furry little problem. Harry and Hermione need to get to know people before they begin to trust them, that's all. It's not paranoia when the bad guys really are out to get you."

Harry emerged with Emma, nodding approvingly at Sirius talking with Remus. Neville stood and moved his chair closer to the bed for Emma to sit, she never even noticed as her eyes were focused on the still form of her daughter. Sitting her in the chair, Harry kissed Emma's cheek as she clasped Hermione's hand in both of hers.

"I'll go and get Dan when Amelia's finished with him, he'll want to be here too."

He stopped first to speak with Sirius. "You heard?"

His question was answered by a nod from Sirius. "Amelia told me. We look after our family, then he's a dead man. See, you can teach new tricks to an old dog."

While appreciating the attempt at humour, neither godson nor godfather smiled. As Harry walked away, Remus couldn't help but comment to Sirius. "That godson of yours already had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and now this. He just can't seem to catch a break."

Having gotten to know his godson very well, Sirius was confident in predicting Harry's reactions. "If we lose Hermione, we'll lose Harry as well. They're already that connected, Moony. After taking his revenge, Harry would disappear off the face of the planet."

"Surely you don't mean…" Remus couldn't finish that sentence, he didn't need to.

"All I know is that I would probably never see my godson again, and that I'm standing here helpless to prevent that from happening is killing me."

Dan gave basically the same answers to Amelia's questions as his wife. He too reacted badly to the news that the blade had been poisoned. Harry removed the magical bindings when the questions were finished but Dan just lay there, hating the terrifying implications of what he'd just heard. Still laying there unmoving, he eventually broke the silence.

"Harry, how are our girls?"

"Hermione is being held in stasis while the ministry search for an antidote to the poison. Emma is sitting holding her hand, I think that's the only thing still holding Emma together."

"This is the same guy whose poison affected Arthur's youngest son? That time, they got him out of prison so he could brew an antidote. What are the chances of him being caught and helping?"

"Even if they caught him in time, Snape wouldn't help. He hates my father and godfather, for some reason he had no problem transferring that combined hatred onto me." Harry's head was down as he continued. "I'm sorry, Dan. This is because I publicly declared myself opposed to the death eaters…"

Sitting up and swinging round to face Harry, Dan supportively placed a hand on each of Harry's shoulders. "Son, I have more anger in me now than at any other time in my life. None of that anger however is directed at you. People who can order parents to murder their own children must be opposed with everything that we have, and then shown no mercy when they get caught. Knowing you and my daughter, both of you were always going to stand up to these madmen. It's who you both are, two of the bravest people I've ever had the privilege to know…"

Lowering his voice, Dan then asked the question he really didn't want to know the answer too. "If I remember rightly, there's a time limit to how long Hermione can be held in stasis?"

He could feel the shakes as Harry silently sobbed while trying to answer. "She has about forty eight hours. We can't administer any potions to extend that because there's no way of knowing how they would react to the poisons. Knowing Snape, he would have thought of that and built in a nasty surprise or two."

"Let's keep that to ourselves for now, and get back to our girls."

Soon Dan was standing with his arms around Emma as she clung to Hermione's hand. Harry sat around the other side of the bed, running his fingers through Hermione's hair. Amelia had to go and start the manhunt for Snape, and hopefully give the poison investigators a better idea of what they were dealing with. Any poison Snape used would not be able to be bought over any counter, and certainly deadly.

-oOoOo-

Magical Britain woke to the front page news that a death eater had attempted to murder Harry Potter and his intended, Hermione Granger, by using the imperius curse on her parents. That Harry survived unscathed wasn't really being celebrated since his intended was currently in a critical condition.

No, the Prophet directed its readers main anger at a certain individual, Severus Snape. That this individual had already been sentenced to Azkaban for attacking Harry Potter certainly added to the ire Prophet readers were feeling.

On reading that brewing an antidote to his poisoning of one of the Weasley children had him gaining early release from Azkaban saw a fair bit of that anger directed at the ministry too. Knowing this was bound to be the public's reaction, there was actually a statement from the Minister of Magic on the situation.

"The Ministry are tackling this problem from two sides, with no efforts being spared on either of these fronts. Firstly, our brightest potions minds are working around the clock in their attempts to produce an antidote to the poison currently threatening Miss Granger's life. Secondly, Severus Snape now holds the position of being our most wanted criminal. The Ministry of Magic has placed a ten thousand galleon reward for information leading to his capture. Our auror force will also leave no stone unturned as they hunt this death eater down. While a Hogwarts student did indeed drink a poison the former potions professor had previously prepared, this was accidental. Snape was allowed to brew an antidote that saved the student's life, and had his Azkaban sentence shortened by a few weeks for doing so."

Anyone checking the record would discover Snape's sentence had been reduced by about seven weeks but Cornelius was an expert at reading the public. He knew the only figure they would be interested in was the one with four zeros in it.

The Prophet then added another incentive to seeing Snape captured by stating whoever managed that feat would surely have the gratitude of the boy-who-lived. After all Harry Potter had done for them, here was a chance to repay their saviour.

Since almost every student at Hogwarts had witnessed the attack, they were of course desperate for news on what was happening. As the only three students currently allowed anywhere near Hermione - Susan, Luna and Neville - were saying nothing, the news in the Prophet was hungrily devoured before breakfast.

Leaving his breakfast untouched, Ron rose and headed to the group of redheads sitting at the Gryffindor table. A crying Ginny was sandwiched between her twin brothers though stood and clung to Ron as he came up beside her.

"Oh Ron, it's like summer all over again. We all were left with nothing to do but sit and hope you made it."

Even the twins were wearing their emotions on their sleeves this morning as that particular wound was still very raw. "Yeah and Harry tried to apologise to us for not getting to you sooner."

Having been unconscious, Ron had missed all of this anxiety. He tried to bolster his siblings. "Hey, Fred, I pulled through. Hermione can too."

It was George who put his younger brother straight. "You pulled through because Snape brewed the antidote to his potion, in the hope they'd let him out of Azkaban. Even if the ministry caught him, that bastard hates Harry. He would never help Hermione."

As Ginny clung to Ron, her tears started to fall. "I just keep seeing all the blood, and hearing those terrible screams of Hermione's. What had she ever done to deserve something like that?"

Sitting wedged between Neville and Parvati at the other side of the table, Luna couldn't let that go. "No one could ever deserve something like that, no matter what they did. Certainly not a thirteen year old girl. It's also badly affected her parents, how could it not. What we saw last night was how the death eaters really operate. They have no noble cause, and absolutely no morals. They're nothing but murdering bastards, every single last one of them."

Luna hadn't realised how loud her voice had gotten, or maybe it was because the entire hall had quietened to hear what was being said. Either way, everyone at breakfast heard every single word she just spoke. McGonagall's voice then passed judgement from the staff table.

"Miss Lovegood, ten points to Gryffindor. It would have been more but I had to deduct some for the language you used. While perhaps appropriate, it's not something I want to hear used by my first year students."

With her face going red, Luna nodded in thanks. Her face got redder as people began to clap in support of her opinion, and the headmistress' stance on this matter. McGonagall then got up to speak.

"I had intended to let us finish our breakfast before saying anything but I notice more than a few of us have no appetite this morning. The story in the Prophet is essentially correct. Miss Granger's life hangs in the balance as the race to find an antidote continues. If there is any news you can be assured I will pass it on. With such a stressful situation gripping the castle, I would ask you to please not harass their friends for information. If anything, they are feeling worse than we are."

As Ron headed back to the Hufflepuff table, Ginny then proceeded to put her foot right in it. Looking to Luna, she asked a stupid question. "How's Harry?"

While a fairly innocuous question, Luna suspected there was something more behind Ginny's asking of it. "Harry's sitting beside his intend, hoping the ministry can come up with a cure to save Hermione's life. He's not up there thinking about a fan girl replacement to be on his arm for the Longbottom ball." It was only after being drawn into Parvati's arms Luna realised she was sobbing.

As Susan came over to offer some comfort for the little blonde too, she let Ginny know exactly how she felt. "I'm watching the boy who wants to be my brother going out of his mind because he can't help the girl he loves. Anyone who even thinks of this as some kind of opportunity to get closer to Harry is as despicable as the person who gave Emma that poisoned blade…"

"..and that is why I specifically said not to harass their friends." McGonagall's appearance stopped any further arguments dead in their tracks. "With everyone's stress levels elevated, the most innocuous comment can be construed as something else. Miss Lovegood, everyone in the castle is hoping Miss Granger recovers. I'm sure you'll get to spend Christmas with them, just as had been planned." While that settled everyone down, with Ginny and Luna now trying to apologise to each other, Minerva wished she was as confident of that last statement as she sounded.

Draco didn't know what to think, fortunately he had his mother to go to for advice. Sitting in her Hogwarts accommodation after breakfast, he asked the question that was foremost in his mind.

"Why would Severus do something like that?"

This was also something Cissi had given a lot of though to, so was able to give her son at least an educated guess as her answer. "The only reason I can come up with is that Severus has not only chosen his side, he wanted everyone to know which side he had favoured. If the Dark Lord was teaching in Hogwarts all of last year, that would mean he sat next to Severus at the staff table and didn't reveal his presence. Had Severus managed to kill Potter and Granger, the Dark Lord would welcome his return with open arms. I fear that's where Severus has gone, to the dark and looking for his master. The Dark Lord returning would again fracture our society, and probably force choices onto all of us."

The implications of that weren't lost on Draco, though his focus was still fixed on what happened at dinner last night. "You could be forced to stab me..." Draco's eyes widened with shock as the other side of that possibility hit him. "I could be forced to stab you!"

"The Dark Lord doesn't care about anyone, other than himself. His favourite today can so easily be his victim tomorrow. I can't follow him, Draco, nor will he allow me to remain neutral. By default then, my decision is already made."

Sitting thinking for a moment, Draco then verbalised what was on his mind. "I was bowling with Professor Emma, she seems nice. Even Potter doesn't deserve that happening to his intended. He and Lord Black will be brutal after this. Severus will need to find who he's looking for before they catch up with him. Even then, that might not be enough to save him. Potter beat the Dark Lord at summer. If Hermione dies, I don't think anything will save Severus - or anyone who supports him."

"All I want is for you to think for yourself, Draco. If your father ever gets out of Azkaban, it will be because the Dark Lord has broken him out of there. That would not be good news for me, nor you. If he managed to sire another heir, you would be disinherited from the Malfoy family too."

That cemented one of Draco's options. While Draco still didn't think he could follow the path Potter was forging, he now knew for certain the Dark Lord and he were on different roads.

-oOoOo-

Having sent Dobby off to Privet Drive with news of the terrible events, Harry wasn't too surprised to see his aunt return with the little guy. He was rather shocked to see Dudley accompanying her. The fact his cousin finished school for the holidays yesterday having completely slipped his mind.

Being held in his aunt's arms saw Harry finally break down. He'd been strong all through the night but the situation actually looked bleaker in what passed for daylight this far north, and so close to the winter solstice. Harry and Hermione had a little celebration planned for that night, the night they were supposed to return to Crawley, only for this to happen. As Dan quietly explained the realities of the situation to Petunia and Dudley, all were glad Emma was sitting with her head resting on Hermione's bed and fitfully sleeping.

Petunia held her nephew close as the horror they'd faced, and the potential disaster still to come, unfolded. Dudley stood with his hand supportively on Harry's shoulder but his eyes were locked on the figure lying on the bed. Since getting to know Hermione, Dudley had soon fallen under the spell she so effortlessly wove. She was someone he now considered family, someone he was slightly in awe of. Seeing her lying there was a stark reminder Hermione was only slightly older than him. The thought he might not be able to talk to her again had Dudley tearing up too, he had no idea how Harry, Emma and Dan were coping with this.

By the time Dan was telling them that Sirius had only recently left for the ministry, Petunia was comforting both boys in her arms. Noticing Emma beginning to stir was all Harry needed to see before trying to get himself back under control. He headed to the bathroom, a quick wash of his face should disguise most of the evidence of the recent crying. While Hermione remained in stasis, Harry was determined to be strong for Emma.

Sometime during their nighttime vigil, Harry had quietly and privately confided to Dan that he wished it had been him attacked. This led to Dan putting his arm around Harry's shoulder and continuing their conversation at a whisper.

"Emma would feel just as bad if that were you lying there, even if it was me - rather than her who did the attacking. Hermione would be distraught, and probably having this exact same conversation with me. You would each give your life for the other, that is love in its truest form. We have the best people in the country working on this, let's concentrate on that for now.."

Those words had kept Harry going through the long night. While the wait appeared long however, the hours remaining in which his Hermione could be saved seemed to be dwindling at an alarming rate. Returning to Hermione's side, he was pleased to see his aunt had managed to get Emma to eat a few bites of food along with the tea Darla had also provided. The next twenty four hours were going to be critical, they still needed to be able to function at the end of it. Harry too ate a sandwich with his tea, even though he had no idea what filling was inside it. Hermione might need him and Harry was determined he would be ready to give his intended whatever she needed.

-oOoOo-

Dinner that night in the great hall was a very somber affair. It was after all only yesterday that their dinner had descended into bloody chaos. There was also a very real awareness that the sands of time were running out for one of their own. By this time tomorrow night, Hermione's body would start rejecting the stasis charm. That would allow the deadly poison to continue its terrible journey, with only one possible outcome should that happen.

One glance at Neville, Susan or Luna was all anyone needed to know there was as yet no sign of the antidote Hermione's life depended upon. Conversations were held in whispers and the hall emptied almost immediately after dinner was finished.

-oOoOo-

In its daily cycle, the human spirit is recognised to be at its lowest ebb just before the dawn. That was never truer than amongst the party who had spent their second night keeping vigil at Hermione's bedside in the Hogwarts infirmary. While there had been visitors during the day, including the Minister of Magic, it had just been the family who had spent the night. Harry, Emma, Dan and Sirius had now spent their second night here, being joined by Amelia, Dudley and Petunia for tonight.

The mere thought that this could be the last night he ever spent with Hermione saw Harry finally lose any semblance of composure. Not caring who else was there, Harry's desperation saw him decided it was way past time to try and do something he'd been thinking about.

"I'm supposed to be the Master of Death yet we're sitting here helpless while Hermione runs out of time. No, so not happening. If I'm death's master then it's time to start issuing some orders. Hermione needs answers, she needs them now. It's time to call someone who might have some for us..."

After Dobby brought him the Resurrection Stone, Harry summoned Albus Dumbledore. While Petunia and Dudley had seen ghosts about the castle, they both understood something was different here. They also knew now was not the time to ask for answers as Harry practically pleaded with the ghost of his former headmaster.

"You said to summon you if we needed help, I've never needed help more. Professor, you've got to help her. I really don't give a shit about anything else. If death wants me instead, I'm ready now. To me, nothing is more important than the person lying on that bed."

"Harry, I have of course been watching and was hoping you would call me..."

Emma actually managed to get in before Harry with the question they were all desperate to know the answer to. "You can help her?"

"I can't, but I know who can. I remember a story Hermione told of being in this very bed, petrified. How Harry later fought a great battle to save a young witch, only to be injected with the same deadly venom we've been using to try and rid the world of Riddle. Think, Harry, how did she say you survived that?"

It was like a light going off in Harry's head. "Fawkes!"

Just mentioning the legendary creature's name was enough for the area to be bathed in light as Fawkes flamed in. Here was the miracle they had all prayed for, a fighting chance for Hermione. All Harry's fatigue left along with his doubts, he was ready to spring into action.

"Sirius, we need Madam Pomfrey here..."

As Sirius shot away, some words of warning came from the former headmaster. "Hermione will need to be out of stasis for Fawkes' tears to heal her. I would also not recommend using any magic. The slightest interference could see some of the toxin survive, and that would mean Hermione wouldn't. While I find Severus' actions in this matter reprehensible, we mustn't forget he is a brilliant potions master - however twisted it seems he's become. We are only going to get one shot at this..."

Poppy's shock at seeing Albus was soon overcome when noticing the Phoenix perched on the end of Hermione's bed. "Will Fawkes help, Albus?"

The colourful bird answered that question by trilling a tune so positive, it could only be a yes. When Albus reiterated his treatment suggestions to Poppy, she knew it would be hard on Hermione and her family but agreed to the necessity of it. Albus then had one last suggestion for Harry.

"While Hermione is coming out of stasis, there will be a window of a few seconds where you might be able to contact her mind and provide a warning of what will be happening. The last thing she will remember is being in the great hall. If she starts fighting everyone, who knows what might happen."

They were getting organised when Poppy removed the bandages from Hermione's face, that ended Dudley's involvement. He shot off to the toilet, Harry sent Dobby to see he was okay. In any situation requiring magic, Harry would want Dobby by his side. Where using magic might actually harm Hermione, he wanted to spare the little guy the pain of watching what was about to happen.

Emma had been holding Hermione's right hand practically since the moment she'd sat beside her daughter, she was not for moving now. Emma would hold Hermione's right arm and shoulder down. Sirius was tasked with the left arm, Petunia and Amelia would be restraining a leg each. Harry and Dan would be trying to hold Hermione's head still enough for Fawkes' tears to find their target. Again Albus had offered a warning. There was a limit to the number of tears Fawkes could cry at any given instance, and it would take days for another batch to be potent enough to heal again.

With everyone in position, Poppy began counting down to removing the stasis charm. Harry was looking into Hermione's eyes, trying to enter her mind, right after Poppy began to count. With Hermione in stasis, it was like trying to stare through a brick wall. As the charm began to lift, Harry started to recognise his Hermione. Rather than screaming instructions inside her head, Harry flashed Hermione an image of Fawkes getting ready to cry into her wound while their family held her steady. Harry reckoned Albus must have been out on the length of that window however because Hermione had barely received the image before the incredible pain hit.

Discovering the pain affected him too, Harry didn't retreat from Hermione's mind. Instead, he tried to embrace it and her. If accepting this pain lessened Hermione's by even the slightest degree, nothing was going to move him from here.

Knowing that certain students of hers would be heading to the infirmary before breakfast, Minerva was waiting on Luna and Neville when they came down to the Hogwarts common room. After confirming there was no news as yet, she quietly accompanied the Gryffindors to the infirmary - picking up a Hufflepuff en route. The quartet had just about reached the infirmary doors when the screaming started. With wands already drawn, they burst through the doors and froze.

All they could move was their eyes, though three of them knew they were in no danger after spotting it was Dobby holding them in place. The elf may have tried to offer an explanation as to what he was doing. If so, it was lost in the screams coming from Hermione and, surprisingly, Harry. The tears freely running down the little guy's cheeks however clearly demonstrated those screams hurt Dobby just as much as they did them. The little guy's heart was breaking.

His daughter's tortured screams were also ripping the heart out of Dan. That he was an active participant in this torture would, at any other time, have seen Dan ready to cut his own throat. The difference here was that Dan had the best view of what was actually happening.

As those oh so precious Phoenix tears dripped into that horrifying wound on Hermione's face, he could see the black vapour bubbling out of her flesh. That this same flesh began to regenerate and repair itself was akin to witnessing a miracle for this healthcare professional. That was why Dan held his daughter's head as lovingly but as firmly as he needed to. He was sure Hermione's screams would live with him for the rest of his life. If Hermione lived today, Dan would consider that a price well worth paying.

The intense pain had robbed Harry of the ability to think, other than to stay and help Hermione. Just being able to question if the pain was lessening meant it must be so, he wasn't even able to do that a few seconds ago. Harry was now pushing through the pain, trying like mad to contact Hermione.

"Hang on, love, it must be working. The pain is definitely lessening, just hang on a little bit longer."

"Harry?"

"Yes, love. I'm here."

"You didn't leave?"

"Hermione Granger, I'm never leaving you. That means you need to do the same for me, love. I thought I was going to lose you..."

In just a few seconds, Hermione was able to see the 'highlights' of what had been happening - and how close Harry was to the edge.

"You're never getting rid of me, Potter. Not gonna happen. I think we need to let the rest of our family know I'm alright though, the pain is more of a dull throb now."

"Be right with you..."

Harry left Hermione's mind and witnessed the last of Fawkes tears land on Hermione's wound. Poppy had of course been watching over everything that happened and her words had spirits soaring. "Wonderful work, Fawkes. I'll leave that until tomorrow before casting any magic at it but Miss Granger should be left without any scarring whatsoever."

"That's good. One scar in the family is quite enough."

That it was Hermione who said these words had those soaring spirits going off like fireworks - vividly colourful, celebratory and so very, very loud.

( Scots to English translation: och aye the noo - oh yes, just now )

 
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