as the wall crumbles
harry potter: hermione granger et al. 2308 words, pg.
she thinks she steps from one world to another just as she has been doing for so long, but the moment she does, the two worlds meld and blend into one.
notes: so much love for elanne, for betaing this years ago - I haven't forgotten! ♥
On her knees, sobbing. The ground, hard. Two arms, pulling, supporting, saying more to her than words ever could. Down, then up. Spiraling down, then drifting up. Down, darkness. Up, light.
Who is it, Mum? Who's that strange man on our doorstep? she asks.
Mum smiles, delightful wrinkles crinkling her eyes. No one, she says. Run along, now. Out to the garden, dear.
She laughs and turns, eyes set on the door on the other side of the kitchen. Her hand touches the doorknob, cold but inviting. Light envelops her as she steps out into her imagination. Open the door, child, her grandmother once said to her. Your imagination is waiting. So she looks around, encircled by light, and decides that this is where she wants to be.
Hello, the tall woman says. (Her eyes take in the slightly rumpled suit and soften.)
The man gives a slight bow, returning the greeting.
Oh, do come in, she says.
With pleasure, he replies. She shows him the living room, offering him a cup of tea. He smiles a little and accepts. She smiles back at him and disappears into her kitchen. A moment later, she is back with a neatly arranged tray. She goes through the motions, and soon they sit content with cups of tea; nothing added for him, a helping of sugar for her. They sit, they stare, they wait.
My name is Edward Dalley, he says quietly, with an air of presence. Is your husband around, by any chance?
She nods. I'll go fetch him, she says, setting down her tea and walking quickly but gracefully to his left. He waits quietly, as always. She returns with her husband hurrying along behind her. He has the air of a scholar, his glasses on his nose in that especial way of his, his clothes ever so slightly mussed. He nods, introduces himself. She smiles, introduces herself. Mr Dalley reintroduces himself. They sit directly across from him. He speaks.
May I ask about the nature of your visit, Mr Dalley?
Business, I'm afraid, Mr Granger. It concerns your daughter.
Immediately, her lips tighten almost imperceptibly. What is it about our daughter? she asks, almost too quickly.
It is the matter of her schooling, he says.
Her education? Husband and wife glance at each other. Why, it's all settled. We've already registered her at the local school. Is there anything wrong?
Wrong? he asks quickly. Oh, no. No. She is perfectly fine.
He stops. Hesitates.
About your daughter. Have you noticed anything peculiar or . . . out-of-place about her?
He sees it all the time. The expression of wonderment flickering across the faces of the apprehensive parents that yes, they have noticed . . . things. Strange happenings. Unexplainable circumstances.
A glance fraught with meaning passes between husband and wife. They can see in each other’s eyes reflections, memories, of those events they could never explain. Hermione, at six. Still Mr Granger could swear that in the instant he walked into the room, the mess had disappeared right under his nose. Hermione had looked up quickly at her father, afraid, then the room was tidy again. Hermione, at nine. No matter how many times they had told Hermione she could not buy the book, it would show up in the car every so often. Eventually, they had had to give in. Hermione, at ten. They had gone hiking, and every ten minutes or so, a new bird would land on her small shoulder. Hermione, at eleven . . .
The husband speaks first. Yes, we have, but—but how did you know? She nods quickly in agreement. Or perhaps out of fear.
Mr and Mrs Granger, what I am about to say might upset you, (a deep breath) but please listen with open ears. Your daughter has a special, rare quality. Her blood is yours, but it contains another element as well, one that is responsible for any mysterious events you might have noticed. Your daughter Hermione has magic running through her veins.
Disbelief races across their faces, immediately replaced by confusion.
Surely not! Magic? she asks incredulously. She nearly stands up, her husband's hand staying her just in time.
Amelia, he murmurs. Her clenched hands relax, the hard look fading from her eyes.
Are you sure? Our daughter, sir? (Our only child?) Hermione, magical? he queries, not ready to believe anything without tangible proof.
Yes, it is my belief she is magical. There is magic in this air, here in this house. Surely you have noticed that.
She shrinks back, slightly. Yes, she has noticed.
Hermione! Hermione! Come into the house! A mother's voice, steady and penetrating (but worried and trembling under the smooth surface).
Coming! a child's voice answers. She comes running up the path, her hair bouncing in the afternoon sunlight. Hermione smiles at her mother. Her mother smiles (a smile full of love and loss) at the sweet, innocent look on her only daughter's face.
Hermione comes inside. She doesn’t realise it, of course, but the moment she steps inside, the walls and doors she once could see vanish, the walls and doors that once separated her from her imagination. Imagination to reality. Reality becomes imagination. Imagination is reality.
There is nothing in-between for her. She can raise up the walls again and choose one or the other, or she can live with both. But they have crumbled and fallen and shaken the foundation that was the normalcy of Hermione. The Muggle-turned-witch, as it were.
She thinks she steps from one world to another just as she has been doing for so long, but the moment she does, the two worlds meld and blend into one.
Remember, Mum? Hermione asks. Her voice does not belong to a child anymore. It is rich and deep. It knows suffering, and it shows.
Of course I do, Amelia Granger answers hollowly. How could I ever forget?
All the same. . . . Hermione drifts off, her voice fading.
Remember, Mum? It was right here (her hands touch the seat reverently) when he first told me. On this very seat, six years ago. I thought I was entering a world unknown to me—but all those years, there it really was, in what I thought was my imagination.
A smile tugs at her lips as she thinks of Hermione the child. She once thought magic was only for faeries and unicorns and mermaids . . . yet, seven years later, she has seen each with her own eyes. Her eyes that reveal magic.
Yes, Mrs Granger says. It is all she says. Her brown eyes stare passively at the floor.
Mum, Hermione tries to say, her voice failing to leave an impression on her mother’s mind. Mum, a journey started that day, and I have to continue. My path was laid out for me. It is beneath my feet, and I cannot stray. I cannot run away. I cannot live the life you wanted for me—the safe, happy life free of dark troubles.
But that's all I wanted! Amelia wants to scream. All I wanted! Why? Why are you this fey child whose powers I can only start to speculate? Why is it you that must be one to save the world? Why were you given the gift of magic, if it only led to danger? Why were you given magic?
But she says nothing, her dulled eyes continuing to stare.
I have to do this, Mum. I can't . . . I can't . . . Oh, please help me, I'm starting to fade away. (Her mother’s love would strengthen her existence.)
Hermione looks into her mother's eyes, forced up to level by her desperate words. Mum, you have to understand. I have to do this.
Of course you do, her mother says (with a tone of near indifference).
You don't understand, Mum! Hermione says frantically. I have to go on this path, no matter where it takes me, or what it takes from me, even my life. It might lead to pain, and suffering, and. . . .
Death, her mother completes dully. (She is rising inside.)
Yes, Hermione articulates, her voice a contrast from the roar of the lioness moments before.
Her answer echoes through Amelia Granger. You can't say that, she exclaims suddenly. You're still a child, not even grown into yourself. How can you—how can you say you might die? You're still my dearest, aren't you? Aren't you?
Of course, Mum, Hermione answers, a tremor in her voice. In her mind’s eye she can see a wall forming, bit by bit, piece by piece. No! she wants to shout. She had worked so hard to keep that wall from obscuring her future. Now, now when she needed nothing between her worlds, it would laugh at her efforts and stubbornly rebuild. She was not going to leave her mother—her family—her world behind her, never to look back. Never. Her eyes narrow, her jaw clenches, and she sets her mind.
Mum, Harry needs me. And you need him. You might not realise it, but you need him. He's the only chance we have for peace and happiness in this life. Don't you understand now? I have to do this, because I—I love you, Mum. With everything.
The mother looks at her daughter with the penetrating look Hermione knows so well. She can see truth in her daughter’s eyes, a pleading truth that overcomes even the clear despair. This choice hurts her, Amelia reads. This hurts Hermione, but it is because she loves her mother. She’s never going to give up this love. But she is Hermione, one who must leave to save the world, and she will be forced to have another priority: the fate of the world.
She wants to wait, oh how she wants the world to wait for her. But no, it drives on relentlessly like a master cracking a vicious whip at the backs of slaves. Hermione wants to tell her mother that she loves her, but she has no time. Curse this cruel world. It gives her no time to live. To love as she would want to.
But Hermione loves her mother. It's there in her eyes.
Her mother stands up. I understand, she says. She truly does. Her daughter is a child, a mere child inside, but she must be a woman for the world.
Come here, my dearest.
Hermione takes a step. In her mind, the wall does not stop her. It has disappeared for a second time. She takes another step, then runs into her mother's open arms without hesitation. Just like a child.
Her hand turns the cold—but inviting, she remembers from a time long past—doorknob to her backyard. It does not hold her imagination this time, but the two special people for whom she is giving up her world. The light blinds her, the afternoon light just like that afternoon so many years ago. She remembers, oh so clearly, the way she had run up the path in such a carefree way. Now she takes a single step, and then collapses. The wall has crumbled again, but this time at a harsh price.
On her knees, sobbing. The ground, hard.
She knows her mother can't hear her here, so she allows her tears to spill to the ground, her grief and sorrow mingling with the dirt of the well-beaten path.
She can hear their voices. She can hear their feet coming upon her. The voices stop, one at each side.
Two arms, pulling,
She knows it's the red-haired one who puts an arm around her shoulder first. She doesn't know why; she shrinks from his touch, pressing herself closer to the cool, hard ground. Darkness. Something tugs at her elbow, only one at first, then one at each elbow. She shrinks away again to darkness.
They grasp her arms and try to pull her up to her feet. She resists. She knows it won't help her. Something tells her that she should just run away, never look back. A normal life will be so much easier, it whispers in her ear. The arms pull. She is on her feet, her legs unwilling to stand straight.
saying more to her than words ever could.
She can hear them scream above the voice in her head, the something that tells her to close her eyes and turn away from the future. They fight for her. Yet she fails. She collapses, downward to the darkness and safety.
Down, then up. Spiraling down, then drifting up.
No! they scream simultaneously, their silent voices echoing. Up, up, up they pull Hermione. Up.
Down, darkness. Up, light.
Apathy is appealing. The darkness promises her oblivion. Here, child, it whispers again. Down here. Then she sees their faces clearly in her mind. She calls their names, but they will never hear. Memories rush through her mind. She is unable to hold on to any of them; they slip past her fingers like water. But she sees their faces again and again.
And they are here. Her legs gain strength; she is not standing, but she is leaning on those arms. No, she says firmly. No. This is my place, here, with my friends.
The darkness shrinks back from her, driven by the burst of light which envelops her spirit. Flee, she says. Not here. This is not your place.
It is mine.
The darkness flees, unable to stay.
Hermione opens her eyes. For a while the tears flow on but gradually they cease to cascade down her cheeks. Ron smiles at her. Harry smiles at her. Hermione smiles, and closes her eyes once more. There is no more darkness there. Only light--their light. Ron’s light. Harry’s light.
This is her place.