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Hermione’s Holiday

By Mena Baines

Hermione was feeling strange. It was an itching sort of depressed happiness, a real listless and excited feeling at the same time, lurking in the bottom of her stomach the day she left school for Easter Break. She was wearing a lavender summer dress, and it was warm and windy outside. Her hair whipped around her shoulders like a pack of wild snakes gone mad in the wind, and she clutched her bag tightly so it might not get away in the bluster.

Rosa stood next to her—they were on the platform, getting ready to board the train. Later they would follow her to the Muggle airport, a place Hermione had been many times and Harry and Ron had never seen, and from there they’d take a jet to New York. Rosa’s mother’s wedding was in two days, and Hermione could see the upcoming event all over her friends’ face. She was frenzied, and overwhelmed for perhaps the first time in her young life. Hermione still hadn’t figured out what was bothering her so much about her Mum getting married. She knew she was marrying Nail’s father, but she still couldn’t figure the dilemma.

Nail. Hermione took a step onto the train, and Harry grabbed her hand and helped her up. She was wearing Rosa’s shoes—Rosa had told her they were comfortable for traveling but Hermione didn’t see it. Harry kept hold of her hand and led her to the back of the train. Hermione felt like a zombie with him. Just the other night she’d met him in the hall, and he’d acted very strangely. The next morning there was a cryptic message about Tom Riddle painted in something that looked like blood over the main entrance to the castle. Hermione had wanted to grab his shoulders, shake him and say, I saw you this time Harry! Now I know! But she just didn’t have the heart. Till the end, she’d think, looking at the scar on her palm. Till the end no matter what. She sat down between he and Ron in one of the back compartments.

Hermione didn’t want to think about Nail—it was unfaithful. And ridiculous at a time like this. But Ron wouldn’t stop talking about Clio, and it was hard. Rosa sat across from them with Ginny and Draco. Seamus was asleep on the floor.

“ Write me a postcard and tell me how it goes,” Draco was saying to Rosa, “ I’ll be in Lillesland, with father.”

“ Doing God knows what,” Ron muttered. Hermione just stared straight ahead. It was very early in the morning, and she was in this half-and-half state of mind. She wasn’t dealing with anything just now.

“ Right, right,” Rosa said, searching frantically through her make up bag. She hadn’t had time to do her morning eyeliner. Hermione thanked the stars that she’d never bothered with makeup. Rosa said that once you had a go at it you’d always feel naked without it.

Harry was leaning against her shoulder, a feeling that was comforting and frightening. Curse this mental indecision! Hermione could only pray for a rational thought. Maybe it was just this early hour…

“ Are you okay?” Harry asked her. Hermione looked at him, and cursed him for knowing her mood. She managed a half-smile to go with her half-happiness. She had never been to New York, and she was happy about this trip. And then there was Nail. And here was Harry, who she loved and hated, feared and yet had the utmost confidence in. Then still was the end of it all, maybe when they got back to school, maybe sooner, as Voldemort had been making himself even more apparent as of late. They had a memorial service at the school for Angelina Johnson, Hagrid, and Katie Bell, his latest victim. He’s picking off Harry’s old friends, Hermione had realized, it won’t be long before he starts in on us.

But there’s a funny feeling to knowing your doom. There’s an entertainment in it, a tragic artfulness to the thing. Hermione found herself looking out windows and really appreciating the sunset, or the way the afternoon light fell softly on her bed when she got back from lunch. All these little things were made suddenly to seem very fleeting and beautiful.

“ Now remember,” Rosa kept saying, “ Most of my New York friends don’t know I’m a witch. They think—“

“ They think you’re in an all girl’s catholic school in London,” Ron finished for her. “ We know—you told us!”

Rosa puffed up her cheeks and looked out the window. Hermione had never seen her in such a tizzy. In the meantime, she’d never seen Harry look so relaxed, which didn’t make any sense. Maybe it was that knowing his doom was near that was making him lounge so carelessly on her shoulder, eyes half open, happily watching the landscape pass by outside. Maybe it was all a farce.

“ So anyway,” Rosa said—obviously she couldn’t help repeating herself, “ There will be no magic-doing of any kind during the wedding. I just can’t deal with trying to hide that from everyone. I mean, they know my mom’s weird and stuff… but you know how Muggles are about this—they can’t even comprehend it—“

“ Hey, calm down!” Draco finally snapped, and she gave him a look. Hermione was glad to have Rosa quieted for a moment, though.

The train ride felt long. Harry fell asleep on one of her shoulders, and Ron on the other. This annoyed Hermione, because she couldn’t sleep. Draco and Rosa were having some sort of serious conversation on the other side of the compartment, and Ginny and Seamus were lazily playing exploding snap on the floor.

When they finally reached the airport Hermione was exhausted, while the well-rested Ron and Harry were going crazy with excitement at the sight of this new place.

“ Did you see how tall the escalators are?” Harry shouted over the noise of the crowd. “ Incredible! Do we get to ride those?

“ Uh-huh,” Hermione muttered. She was getting a headache, and suddenly she was wishing she’d gone on holiday with her parents to the ocean. New York would only be busier and louder.

“ Where are the planes?” Ron asked, spinning around, “ I don’t see them.”

“ Wait till we get upstairs,” Rosa explained patiently, kissing Draco goodbye as he finally separated from them, on his way back out to the wizards’ train station. “ You’ll see them when we get to our gate. But first we have to get past security.”

Hermione was glad this was the clueless Muggle security, and not some wizards who might be wise to what was going with Harry. He still seemed completely relaxed, amazed at everything he was seeing in this strange Muggle airport. Hermione didn’t think it was fair that he should be so oblivious, that all his problems should fall on her. Her mother used to tell her that when you let yourself love somebody you have to let the good in with the bad. Hermione was beginning to see what she meant. She was beginning to regret some things.

They left Seamus on their way to their gate. He was off to spend some time with his Muggle parents on their holiday, and would meet them later at Percy and Penelope’s wedding. They found their gate across from a little Pizza Hut stand. Ron glued himself to the window, looking out at the gigantic jets. Harry went across the lobby to get a slice of pizza.

“ You want one?” he asked Hermione. She shook her head and took a seat near Ron at the window. Hermione had seen a plane before. She had pizza all the time. She couldn’t share their excitement. Rosa sat down next to her with a sigh, and Ginny joined Ron at the window, fascinated as well.

“ Hey,” Rosa said, poking her elbow, “ Lighten up, chick. This is vacation.” She gave Hermione a wearied smile.

“ Aren’t you worried about Draco?” Hermione asked.

“ I guess so,” Rosa said with a sigh, “ He can take care of himself.”

Hermione nodded. She needed to adopt that philosophy. She watched Harry across the lobby, beaming at the guy behind the counter as he paid for his pizza and Pepsi. He’s in such a good mood, Hermione thought, and Rosa’s right. This is my break, I might as well enjoy it. Harry came back and sat beside her with a grin.

“ I’ve never had this,” he said, “ It’s American pizza.”

“ There’s all kinds of cool things at airports,” Rosa said, “ I love em’. Me and my mom used to sell fortune flowers at LaGuardia when I was a kid.”

“ Fortune flowers?” Ginny asked with a puzzled smile.

“ Well, just regular flowers to you and me,” Rosa answered smugly. “ But Muggles will believe anything.”

By the time they boarded their plane, Rosa had told them two more times not to mention anything about magic while they were in New York.

“ I feel like I’m going home to the Dursley’s,” Harry muttered. Ron began to look nervous as they headed down the hallway to the plane with the other passengers.

“ Is this thing safe?” he asked shakily.

“ Relax, sweetie,” Rosa said, “ You have a better chance of dying by attack of wild flubberworms than getting injured on the walkway of an aircraft.”

Hermione took the seat near the window next to Harry. Their seats were certainly not first class—a tall gentleman with dark blond hair was packed on to the end of their row. Rosa and Ron sat in front of them, and Ginny was across the aisle, all excited about the free headphones that came with her seat.

Ron was disappointed with the takeoff.

“ That was rather anticlimactic,” he grumbled, “ I thought the top would shoot off or something. Really I prefer broom travel. At least you can see where you’re going.”

Harry leaned across Hermione to peer out the window. His elbow poked into her stomach as he bent over to get a better look.

“ Wow,” he said, straightening his glasses, “ I can’t believe Muggle technology sometimes. It’s almost like they enchant things to fly, to carry them without moving.”

“ Think they got their ideas from us?” Hermione asked with a grin.

“ Maybe,” Harry said, sitting back.

“ I can’t believe you lived with Muggles for eleven years and never came close to an airplane,” she said, pulling her hair up into a messy ponytail.

“ Well,” Harry said, “ The Dursleys weren’t much for travel. And if they did, they went without me.”

“ Poor thing,” Hermione said, imagining how it must have been to grow up like Harry, so alone and unloved. She felt a pang in her stomach when she remembered what McGonagall had told her. Harry’s father had been alive all that time. Oh, how could he? Hermione was sure she didn’t want him to come back now. Harry would never forgive him.

“ Do you think Rosa’s friends will be nice?” Harry whispered.

“ Forget her friends,” Hermione said quietly, “ I wonder what this mother of hers is like. Nail made her sound like a crazy woman.”

Harry sat back in his seat, “ Yes, NAIL,” he said, “ He’ll be there, I presume.”

Hermione swallowed a lump in her throat. So Harry wasn’t so dense after all. “ Yes, I think so,” she tried to sound causal, as if she’d hardly thought about it.

They slept for most of the plane ride, it was over six hours long and very tiring, though they barely moved. Harry looked like he needed the rest, but Hermione thought Ron might go stir crazy.

“ Does it ever END?” he whined for the millionth time, “ I could get there faster on my Cleansweep 5!”

“ Sit DOWN,” Rosa, who had lost her patience with him early on, said, “ You’re making a scene.”

When they finally landed, the sun had come up, and it flooded this strange city with light. Hermione had looked out the window of the plane as they were nearing Manhattan Island, and seen something that had almost appeared supernatural. Of course she’d seen big Muggle cities before, but here there was no patch of green, no empty space as far as she could see. Everything was packed into this tiny space of tall gray buildings, and it looked frightening and wonderful. The perfect place for Rosa to live. The perfect place to meet Nail again.

She shook Harry awake once they’d landed. Ron was glued to his seat now, terrified.

“ What was all that SHAKING when we came down?” he asked Rosa, eyes wide, “ Was that normal.”

“ Ron,” Rosa said, eyes shut and a hand on her forehead. “ I swear to god if you ask me one more question…”

“ Attention Trans-Atlantic flyers,” came the sugary voice of a flight attendant over the loud speaker, “ We have reached our final destination, New York City. Thank you for flying Trans-Atlantic, and have a nice day.”

“ Where is that voice coming from?!” Ron shouted, and Rosa raised a hand to smack him.

“ Alright,” Ginny said, grabbing her brother, “ Time to get off now, Ronny, before our hostess murders you.”

Harry looked at Hermione sleepily, “ Want to go get more pizza?” he asked, rubbing his eyes. Hermione smiled.

“ Oh, no more Pizza Hut crap now,” Rosa said as they were getting off, “ You’ve got to have some genuine New York pizza, we’ve got to take you to Rocko’s in the East Village.”

“ Okay!” Harry said as they pushed their way into the airport.

“ I’ve been in flying cars,” Ron said, shaking his head. “ But that was the weirdest experience I’ve ever had.”

-----___________________________

They took a taxi to Rosa’s mother’s apartment building, on a quiet street in a small burrow, not far from the river. Four little boys with dark orange skin ran past them on the sidewalk as they climbed out, chasing an escaped ball. A woman above was hanging out her laundry on her fire escape.

“ Hey, ma!” Rosa called to her, “ Buzz us up, eh?”

“ Rosa, my God,” the woman called down in a think New York accent. “ You didn’t tell me you was bringin’ the whole school.” She disappeared into the apartment, and moments later they heard a ringing noise that made Ron jump. Rosa reached up and pulled the door to the building open.

“ Come on, guys,” she said, “ Home sweet home! Ignore my mother. She’s probably freaking out about the wedding.”

They climbed a flight of stairs and turned to the right. Rosa walked to the door at the end of the hall and kicked it open, throwing her bag inside.

“ Let’s go!” she beckoned to her nervous looking friends. Harry, fearless, followed her in first, and the rest proceeded him. Inside, the decorations were tacky and cheap, and a tall man with thick brown hair was sitting at the bar in the kitchen, cracking open pistachios.

“ Rosie,” he called with a smile, “ What’d you bring the circus with you?” he asked, eyeing her friends.

“ NO, Bernie,” she said, “ These are my friends, Harry, Hermione, Ginny and Ron. They came for the wedding.”

“ Rosetta Isabella McNally!” her mother scolded, walking in off the porch, “ Where are you ‘specting me to put all these kids? They ain’t all sleepin’ on the floor of ya room, that’s for sure.”

“ Just, RELAX, Mom,” Rosa spat back with a glare. Hermione would have been smacked rightly across the face if she spoke back to her Mum like that. Ron giggled, and she knew he was thinking the same thing.

“ I thought the boys could stay with Bernie and Nail across the hall,” she said, “ Now give me a freakin’ minute, ma, I haven’t had a smoke in six hours!”

“ You’re not smoking in this house, kid!” Rosa’s mom barked, shooing her out onto the patio, “ I’m sorry kids,” she called back into the apartment, “ Everything’s a mess around here—you want something to eat? There’s Cokes in the fridge.”

“ What’s Cokes?” Ron asked, puzzled.

“ It’s a Muggle drink,” Hermione said, “ Like the Pepsi you had on the plane. Only different.”

Ron looked confused.

“ Yeah, help yourself to anything you want,” Bernie said, getting up, “ Calliope’s sent the boy down to the deli to get some lunch. You like cornbeef sandwiches?”

“ I love them!” Harry said. Hermione’s stomach did a nervous dance. The boy? Did he mean Nail? Was Nail coming here? God, I must look horrible, she thought.

Hermione mentally slapped herself. Stop thinking about him that way! She commanded her brain.

“ Where’s Clio?” Ron asked, setting his bag down.

“ Who’s askin’ ?” Bernie asked, suspicious. Ron remembered that he was her father and turned red. Rosa came in from the porch with her mother; they were still bickering.

Hermione looked at the two, mother and sister—they were so alike! Both beautiful with strange purple eyes and long black hair. She couldn’t help thinking of Harry and his father. I have to tell him… she thought.

“ You guys can chill in my room if you want,” Rosa said, but before they could answer the door was kicked open again. This time it was Clio, followed by two other girls in tight t-shirts and big pants.

“ Rosa!” the two girls squealed. Clio ignored her and jumped on Ron’s back.

“ What is this, teenage slumber party part six?” Bernie grumbled.

“ I’m tellin’ ya,” Calliope said, pulling the Cokes out of the fridge. “ Where the heck did Nail get off to? I sent him out an hour ago.”

“ I saw him on the corner with Stevie and Jake,” Clio said in tattletale tone,

“ Great,” Calliope moaned, “ He knows I don’t want him hanging around with those punk gang members.”

“ They ain’t gang members, ma,” Rosa shot back, already sounding like she’d never left New York. “ Guys,” she said, “ This is Talula and Ivy.”

“ Nice ta meet ya,” Ivy said, giving them a wink, “ Y’all coming to the wedding tomorrow?”

“ Yeah we are,” Ron said, “ How formal is it? I haven’t got anything really dressy…”

“ Great, we’ll go get you something,” Clio said, yanking him out the door. Hermione heard them giggling in the hall. She rolled her eyes. She wasn’t sure she was in the mood for all this company…

“ Hey,” she heard a deep voice at the door and whirled around, “ Dad you didn’t tell me you invited the whole neighborhood! I woulda got more.” It was Nail, and he was carrying three bags full of good-smelling food. Hermione suddenly realized she was starving. He put the bags down on the table and looked over at Hermione.

“ What’s up, guys,” he said, poking her in the stomach, “ What time’d you get here?”

“ Only like ten minutes ago,” Harry said, “ Thanks for the lunch, man.”

“ Hey, sure,” Nail said, grinning, “ My dad’s paying.”

“ Where’s Ron?” Rosa asked, sitting down on the sofa with Ivy and Talula, “ Doesn’t he want to eat?”

“ I think he’s already busy eating my sister’s face in the hall,” Nail said with a half-amused smirk. Hermione burst into laughter without meaning to. He looked at her and grinned.

“ Oh, for crying out loud, boy!” Calliope hissed, “ Don’t let your father hear that.”

They all sat down on the floor in the living room, around the coffee table. Hermione and Harry spilt a huge cornbeef sandwich and a soda. Great Wizards, she thought, leaning with him back against the couch, I’m acting like a real live normal person! She laughed to herself.

“ What’s so funny?” Harry asked her with a grin, taking the soda for a sip.

“ Nothing,” Hermione said, with a contented shrug, “ Just glad to be away from everything.” He patted her on the knee, and she knew he felt the same.

“ Man I gotta take you guys out tonight,” Nail said, “ See the city and all.”

“ Like the Eiffel tower and all that?” Ginny asked, excited.

Talula laughed, “ Yeah he’ll take you to see the pyramids, too!” she said cracking up.

“ The Eiffel tower’s in France, dear,” Ivy reminded her with a worried look.

“ She meant the Statue of Liberty,” Harry said quickly, and Rosa smacked her forehead with her hand.

“ Heh, right,” Ginny said, blushing, “ Sorry… I’m not very well read.” Talula snorted.

“ No, none of that touristy crap,” Nail said with a wave of his hand, “ I gotta take you to Checkers. It’s this great old jazz club near the river. And down to Greenwich—we can hang out with my boys and play basketball or something.”

“ Oh, come on, Nail,” Rosa said, “ I’m taking them shopping, for crying out loud. And we should go to The China Room—they’ve never been to a rave in their lives!”

“ My God!” Ivy said, “ You haven’t lived until you’ve been to a rave.”

“ They don’t have too many in England,” Hermione explained.

“ Whatever you do you better be back by two,” Calliope said, “ I don’t want you looking like drowned rats at my wedding.”

“ Aw, mom!” Rosa whined, as if two o’clock in the morning was a harsh curfew.

___________________________

Hermione leaned out the little window in Rosa’s room, staring out at the darkening city. Calliope and Bernie had gone out for a pre-wedding dinner with some of their friends, and Rosa was on the phone with Draco, lying on her stomach on her bed. Ron was still off with Clio, and Harry and Nail were playing Super Nintendo in the living room with Ginny.

“ Oh my God, Herm-oine,” Rosa said, after hanging up the phone, “ Do you know how romantic that was?”

“ How romantic was it?” Hermione asked, not turning from her window. She could see the tops of some buildings, but she wanted a better view, a view of the whole city.

“ He had to sneak on the phone to talk to me!” Rosa squealed, walking over to the window with Hermione. “ I wish I coulda brought him here—Ivy and Talula would just die of jealousy.”

“ Yeah,” Hermione said absently, “ It’s too bad.”

“ So what’d want to do tonight, Herm-oine?” Rosa asked, jumping up to sit on the windowsill. “ We could go to the club and dance, or we could go to the mall and cruise around—hey, we could see a show! Anything you want.”

“ Let’s go dancing,” Hermione said, “ I haven’t been to a good…dance in awhile.” Rosa beamed.

“ Sounds good,” she said, “ But you can’t go dressed like that,” she said gesturing to the lavender dress.

“ Why not?” Hermione asked, “ I think this is cute.”

“ Cute is not what you’re going for at a New York Club,” Rosa informed her, “ I got some stuff you could wear.” She walked over to her closet and pulled out a tight red dress. It looked like something Cho Chang would wear—on a bad day.

“ Uh-uh, no way,” Hermione said, shaking her head at the dress, “ I am not wearing any hoochie-mama outfits! I may be in America but I’m still a British prig.” Rosa laughed out loud.

“ Suit yourself,” Rosa said with a wink. “ I’m going to change into something less comfortable. Go tell the boys and Ginny to get ready.” Hermione walked out into the living room, wondering what she’d gotten herself into. Nail was laying on his back, staring backwards at the TV while he raced Harry on the Nintendo. Ginny had grown bored with the whole thing, and was examining an aquarium on the other side of the room.

“ Get ready to go out, guys,” Hermione said, sitting down beside Harry, “ We’re going dancing.”

“ Cool.” Harry said abscondly, staring at the race on the screen and jabbing the buttons on the Nintendo controller.

“ Oh, fun!” Ginny said, “ What should I wear?”

“ Rosa’s got some prostitute clothes you can borrow if you want them,” Hermione told her. Nail burst out laughing.

“ Hermione…” Harry said, shaking his head with a smile.

“ No, she’s right,” Nail said, “ What would the boyfriend think?”

“ AW!” Harry shouted, throwing down his controller, and Nail laughed again.

“ I told you,” he said, “ No one can beat me at this. I am the champion of Mario Kart! All hail!”

____________________________

They took a cab into the city, and all but Rosa and Nail had their faces pressed to the windows as they watched the bright lights of the city coming on against the night. The cab dropped them off at a place on a strip of restaurants and shops.

“ The good clubs don’t get kickin’ until 4 a.m.,” Rosa said, “ But there’s a cool restaurant down here where we can go and dance.”

“ Get the ribs,” Nail advised, “ They’re the best.”

They got in line outside a place that looked sort of family-oriented, and Hermione decided it was safe enough. Harry squeezed her into a hug while they were waiting, and she wondered what he was thinking. Was he thinking this might one of the last evenings they spent together? Did he, like she did, think that all the time?

Once they were inside they got a table up on the deck, and it was a nice view of the neighborhood they were in and the big city beyond.

“ Calliope wanted to get married in St. Patrick’s,” Rosa was saying as they munched on appetizers. “ But I think you have to be royalty or something.”

“ Calliope thinks she IS royalty,” Nail said, and Rosa threw a chicken-wing bone at him.

“ Lay off,” she said, “ Bernie’s no prize.” Nail shrugged.

“ Well, it will be interesting to see how long it lasts anyway,” he muttered.

“ I give it two weeks,” Rosa said.

“ Eight days, tops,” Nail answered. Hermione’s mouth fell open.

“ That’s not very nice!” she scolded.

“ You don’t know our parents,” Rosa said, “ Ron and Clio’s little fling will probably last longer than their marriage.”

“ Speaking of my brother,” Ginny said, “ Where IS he?”

“ He’s at my apartment,” Nail said, “ I asked him and my sister if they wanted to come…got a resounding no.”

“ Oh my gosh,” Rosa said, slapping the table, “ This is my favorite song!” An old 70’s rock song had come on. She jumped up from the table and danced by herself for a minute. “ Come on, you guys!” she said, flicking her head in the direction of the dance floor, “ Let’s get out there before we get to full too dance!”

“ Alright!” Ginny said, grabbing Nail’s arm, “ Come on!” she called to Harry and Hermione.

“ Oh,” Hermione said, getting self-conscious, “ I don’t know if I can dance to this…” At that Harry promptly picked her up out of her seat and carried her, giggling, over to the dance floor.

“ There,” he said, setting her down and smiling, “ Now show me how to dance like a Muggle.”

“ Well mostly like this,” Hermione said, putting her hands on his hips and shaking them back and forth. “ See?” she said, saddling up to him and kissing him quickly. Hermione laughed as he grabbed her hand and spun her around.

“ Hey, no—like this!” Rosa said, throwing her arms up and waving them around in some choreographic fashion.

“ Rosa dances like a gangster,” Nail said, jumping over behind her. She whacked his side with her hips.

“ I do not,” she said, grinning. Hermione hadn’t really danced since New Year’s Eve, so she threw her hands up in Rosa’s way and got into it. She shut her eyes and tilted her head back, and then opened them, staring up at the night sky.

She felt someone take her hand and spin her again, and she opened her eyes, expecting to see Harry. But he was across the dance floor where she’d left him, with Rosa and Ginny. It was Nail who twirled her gracefully, then caught her against his chest. Hermione took two steps back.

“ Hey,” he said, “ Dance with me,” he ordered with a smile, taking her hands, “ You look like a crazy person, dancing by yourself.”

“ I do not,” Hermione said, breathless from the dancing. Of course from the dancing. Nail took her hands and placed them on his shirt.

“ See,” he said, “ You roll you hips. Like this.” Hermione felt dizzy, dancing with him like that. The dance floor was crowded, and getting noisy. Could Harry see her? She’d absolutely die if she saw him behaving this way with some other girl… But this was Nail. She hated to be a hypocrite, but…this was NAIL. And he smelled like woodchips and pizza. It was wonderful. Harry would just have to understand.

“ Why are you looking at me like that?” Nail whispered, and it was odd, because Hermione could HEAR the whisper, though the crowded place was so loud… How does he do things like that? She took her hands off him and stepped back.

“ Where is everybody?” she screamed over the noise of the crowd, and wondered again how she heard that perfectly clear whisper.

“ What?” he said, leaning close to her. Hermione gasped and stepped back. He had some nerve. Making her feel like this.

“ Nothing,” she said back, and he read her lips this time. They walked back over to where the others were dancing, near the speakers. More classic Muggle rock was blaring from them, much to Rosa’s delight.

“ Come on!” she said, jumping on Nail, “ Practice for the Megadeath concert!” Harry laughed at them, and grabbed Hermione, picking her up and spinning her around.

“ Harry!” she said, smacking him, “ You’re going to make me sick!”

“ Okay, okay,” he said, grinning, “ You want to go back to the table?” Hermione shook her head. She felt bad. There was so much she was keeping from him—they hadn’t kept secrets since their third year in school, when McGonagall wouldn’t let her tell anyone about the time turner. McGonagall. It was her, still, that was making Hermione feel guitly for not being truthful with him. She wants to drive us apart, that much I know, Hermione thought sourly. She’s so afraid I’ll get hurt like she did. But…James is alive…

“ Oh Harry,” she said, as the music blared louder, “ I should tell you…”

“ What?”

“ Harry it’s your father, it’s James, he’s alive!” she blurted it out.

Harry squinted his eyes at her. “ Huh?” he screamed. He hadn’t heard her. Suddenly the wild Fleetwood Mac song ended, and an old Beatles song came on. It was a slow one, and the place was now quieter.

“ What is it?” Harry asked softly, running a finger down her cheek. Hermione puffed up her cheeks like Rosa did when she was thoughtful.

“ Nothing,” she said.

________________________

They ended up leaving early, and Hermione apologized to Harry for making him miss all the fun. He said he didn’t mind, that he wanted a chance to be alone with her anyway.

“ What for?” Hermione asked quietly. They were in the back seat of a taxi, stuck in the after-theater traffic on their way back to Rosa’s apartment.

“ Oh, nothing special,” Harry said, looking at his lap, “ Just wondering what was bothering you, I guess.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “ Gee, Harry, what could be bothering me?” she asked sarcastically.

He leaned over onto her shoulder and put his arms around her waist. Hermione pet his hair and looked out the window with a sigh. There were no more words for this. But there was the thing that was bothering her.

“ Harry,” she said, still looking out the window, “ I saw you the other night in the hall.”

“ Hmm?”

“ The night before they found that message about Riddle,” Hermione said in a shaky whisper, “ I saw you in the hall… you looked really shaken… you didn’t say a word and then you just walked away!” He sat up to look at her and Hermione turned to him. “ Oh, Harry what’s happening to you!” she choked out.

He frowned, “ I don’t know what you mean,” he said, “ You think I did it?”

Well of course I do! Hermione wanted to scream. There was something so guilty about the look in his eyes when she saw him that night. Guilty and yet frightened, as if he didn’t even know what he was doing.

“ Well answer me!” Harry said, “ Is that what’s bugging you? You think I’m going to turn on you any minute or something?”

“ Harry just tell me what you were doing alone in the hall that night!” Hermione pleaded, trying not to get upset. “ I’ve just been so curious… to know… the truth.”

“ I was never in the hall with you at night,” Harry said, shaking his head, “ And if I was I must have been sleepwalking. What were YOU doing in the hall, huh Hermione?”

“ Don’t get cross with me!” Hermione said, “ You know I’m on your side. I was there because Ellie told me to go. This ghost… she’s…”

“ I still don’t know what to think about this whole ghost bit,” Harry said, folding his arms across his chest, “ Sounds a bit fishy to me. Sounds like Ginny’s little black book or something—a ghost no one else can see! It’s probably dangerous.”

“ I don’t think so,” Hermione said. Somehow she was just sure that Ellie was here to help. She decided now would not be a good time to tell Harry that she was the ghost of Voldemort’s daughter.

“ Just be careful who you trust,” Harry said, “ Including me, I suppose.” He muttered. Hermione chewed on her lip. If he didn’t remember that night in the hall…could he be possessed? She looked at him. His eyes were clear and bright, not the typical appearance of the eyes of a possessed person.

“ I trust you,” Hermione said quietly, as the cab pulled up to Calliope’s apartment building. They got out and rang the buzzer, but got no answer.

“ Try Nail’s,” Harry suggested, “ I think Ron and Clio are still there.” Hermione rang his bell, and sure enough, Ron buzzed them up.

“ Back so early?” he asked over the intercom, sounding genuinely disappointed.

-______________________________

Hermione had a dream that night, but it started off rather normally. She was at a wedding, only it wasn’t for Rosa’s mother, it was for her. She was standing at the altar waiting for the groom, which was quite unusual, and finally the doors at the end of the aisle opened. Harry was standing there, looking scared. He walked out, and down toward her, and stopped about five steps in front of her.

“ Harry?” Hermione asked, and her voice reverberated off the walls and echoed through the church. The Harry that stood before her looked up, and Hermione gasped when she saw that his green eyes had turned red.

“ Hermione!” someone screamed in the back of the church, and she looked up to see another Harry, this one looking quite normal, and very panicked. She started to run to him, but the red-eyed Harry grabbed her arm.

“ Help me!” he squeaked, and suddenly the redness in his eyes melted away. He looked so pitiful and frightened, Hermione dropped her bouquet and put her arms around him.

“ Noo!” the Harry in the back cried. Suddenly the Harry she was holding turned into a giant snake. Hermione screamed, and fell to the ground. The giant snake loomed over her, and then reared back and prepared to strike…

Hermione sat up in bed, breathing hard and sweating. She didn’t know where she was at first, and then she realized she was in Rosa’s room. Rosa still wasn’t back… Hermione looked at the clock—it was almost 3:30 in the morning. She glanced down at the floor, where Clio had been sleeping, and saw that her sleeping bag was still empty. Hermione kicked Rosa’s covers off and climbed out of the bed.

Still shaken from the dream, she wandered out into the living room. Calliope, who had been waiting up on the sofa, had now disappeared. The front door was open, and she could hear noises across the hall in Nail’s apartment. She walked over to go check on Harry. What the heck had that dream meant? Somehow it almost made sense… the way that Ellie begged her to help Harry yet seemed to hate him all at once… but Hermione couldn’t put her finger on it.

“ Harry?” she said quietly as she walked through the open door into Nail’s apartment. Everyone was huddled around a little Muggle television set—even Rosa and Nail, who had apparently gotten back.

“ Hey, I’m here,” Harry said, holding out his arms and beckoning her to come over. “ It’s okay—we didn’t want to wake you.”

“ Oh, Herm-oine, it’s awful!” Rosa choked out, crumbling into Calliope’s arms. Hermione walked over and let Harry take hold of her. She pushed her face against his sweatshirt.

“ What is it?” she asked, shivering in her nightgown.

“ He’s attacked some Muggles this time,” Clio explained sadly, “ A lot of Muggles.”

Hermione looked over at Nail. He stood stark and still with his arms folded across his chest.

“ How do you know it was Voldemort?” she asked in a whisper.

“ Look,” Nail said quietly, gesturing toward the TV. Almost afraid to see, Hermione turned toward the television. A flustered looking Muggle was giving an eyewitness account. The broadcast was live from New York City. An unnatural, rouge bolt of lightening had struck down a blimp over a crowded football stadium, starting a fire that killed many.

“ Why does he want to do this?” Harry shouted, enraged. “ Why does he make us wait, leaving these hints of himself?” He pulled Hermione closer to him.

“ That stadium isn’t that far from here,” Nail said, “ I heard the sirens when we were coming back.”

“ Well it’s all over now, kids,” Bernie said, trying to be comforting. “ Change the channel, will ya, Calliope?”

“ Yeah, yeah,” Calliope flipped the station to a nature show about penguins. Shaken, everyone sat huddled together on the floor, and let Calliope make them tuna fish sandwiches. Nail handed out Cokes, ensuring everyone that the caffeine would keep them up until morning. No one wanted to fall asleep that night.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fin sat alone in his cabin, thinking. The master had left him alone for almost two days now, and he’d had a lot of time to ponder over some things. Mostly he was thinking about the thing that always crept into his mind when he was too lazy to fill it with other thoughts. He laid down on his dusty little bed and thought about Marielle.

Marielle, who had gotten sloppy in the end. She had become too attached to Fin, however she denied it to his face. Voldemort wouldn’t have it. But somehow, it had seemed like the dark lord waited until their friendship developed into something else to do away with his daughter. To make her absence hurt worse when he finally decided to destroy her? But why had in not been Fin who was destroyed?

He didn’t understand his value to the master’s plans. It was the master who had been going around on a rampage lately, and he only had Fin do a few small tasks here at this school, when his powers were far greater than what the master asked of him. Voldemort must have known that Fin could take this whole castle down in one blow if he wanted to. But that wasn’t what the dark lord wanted. For some reason he was being very subtle.

Like the other night, when he’d met that girl in the hall. Fin was almost sure that Voldemort had planned that. Otherwise, he would have found some way to intervene.

Voldemort never wanted him being too happy. Fin shut his eyes and tried not to remember. Tried not to remember how his master had so skillfully obliterated his only daughter because she was the only source of Fin’s happiness. He didn’t understand it. I’m the one that should have died, Fin thought for the millionth time, not her.

Suddenly he heard a noise at the door, and he spun around. Someone was coming in! Lord Voldemort, what do I do? Fin pleaded inwardly, but he could not hear the master’s voice.

The door opened, and a panicked Fin jumped up and started thinking of every spell he knew to defend himself with. Who would be coming here? Only someone that wanted to hurt him. Then he remembered the girl he’d met in the hall the other night. Had she come down here to see him? Was that possible?

From behind the door stepped a middle-aged man. He was not tall, he had thin light-brown hair and friendly eyes. He looked at Fin and gasped. Fin jumped back.

“ Harry?” the man said, shutting the door and narrowing his eyes, “ What are you doing here?”

“ Blast,” Fin heard a muttering in his head. Voldemort—finally! He would tell him what to do. Fin knew the dark lord was still regaining his strength after a mission he’d accomplished last night in an American Muggle city. But he’d still come up with something.

“ I thought you were, eh, going off with your friends for the break?” What was this idiot man talking about? And why, like that girl, had he called him Harry?

“ Kill him,” Voldemort muttered, sounding bored, “ He knew about Thomas. Kill him at once.”

Thomas? Now Fin was even more confused. He didn’t know what Voldemort meant. But he knew now what he had to do.

“ Are you still feeling sad over old Hagrid?” the man asked, “ Me too,” he said with a grin, “ They couldn’t have taken a nicer guy. I come down here sometimes—haven’t been down in awhile, but I like to remember.”

Fin raised a shaky arm. He didn’t want to kill this man. He didn’t understand why he had to—this didn’t seem like a threatening fellow. But he knew better than to disobey Voldemort.

“ What’sa matter, Harry?” the guy asked him, frowning slightly. Stop calling me that! Fin wanted to scream.

“ Wait,” Voldemort said, as if he’d changed his mind, “ Hold off a moment on him. He’s the one who’s been training Potter.”

Sir why does he keep calling me Harry? Fin knew Voldemort couldn’t hear his thoughts—he could only see through his eyes and give orders, but he asked in his head anyway.

“ This may be useful,” Voldemort said, cackling. “ I can’t spy on him inside the castle…” he trailed off. “ Go along with it, will you Fin? Ask him to help you practice.”

I don’t understand! Fin wanted to cry. But again, he wasn’t about to disobey.

“ Help me practice?” he squeaked out. Why would this man do anything for him?

“ Oh, Harry are you worried about the battle?” the man said with a nod, “ Okay. Okay, sure. What do you want to go over? I’ll be glad to show you anything again. Remember you gotta have brains to take someone like Voldemort down.”

Fin heard loud laughter in his head. He still didn’t understand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next afternoon, the wedding went off without a hitch. Rosa looked cute in her bridesmaid dress, standing at Calliope’s side, and Nail looked….well he looked quite good in his usher outfit, but Hermione was trying not to think about that. After the ceremony, they had a little shindig under a tent in the park.

“ So we’re leaving tomorrow at 6 sharp,” Ron said, “ Percy’s wedding’s in two days, so we can chill for awhile once we get there,” Now he had before the orchestrator of operations, and Rosa could relax a bit. She and Nail actually seemed to except the fact that they’re parents were now married.

“ Maybe they’ll build an extra wall across the hall and join the apartments together,” Nail said with a smirk. Hermione grinned. They were sitting by the punch bowl, watching everyone dance. Calliope and Bernie were in the center of the crowd, looking very happy. Bernie took every opportunity he could to remind Clio that she needed to stay at least five inches away from Ron while dancing.

“ So you’re leaving tomorrow,” Nail said, sipping his drink and not looking at her.

“ Yeah,” she said, “ Got another wedding to go to, believe it or not.”

“ Take care of yourself, then,” he said, “ I’m worried about you with him. You’re like collateral, you know.”

“ Huh?”

“ Something they could more or less ransom from him,” he said, flicking his head at Harry, who was chatting with Ginny on the other side of the tent.

“ Oh is that what I am?” Hermione said with a sigh, “ You know I’m not so helpless as the two of you think.”

“ Everyone’s helpless coming up against a dark lord,” Nail said, “ I hate to talk about it now,” he added. Hermione shrugged.

“ It’s all we ever talk about,” she admitted.

“ God,” Nail said, “ It’s a wonder you’re not more high-strung,”

“ You think I’m high strung?” Hermione asked, shoving him with a smirk.

He smiled back at her. “ I think about you a lot.” He said, and Hermione blushed.

“ Hey, stop,” she whispered, staring down at her Coke, “ I…can’t…”

“ I know,” he said, hopping off the table they’d been sitting on, “ I gotta take off. Steve and the boys are giving me a ride into town tonight.”

“ Oh, Great Wizards,” she said with a groan, “ Please be careful.”

Nail grinned, “ You worried about me?” he asked.

“ Of course I am!” Hermione hissed. “ You’re my friend.”

“ Yeah, and don’t forget it,” he said, “ You ever want to get away from that whole mess in England, you just come here, anytime, I’ll be here from now on, I’m not going back to Costa Del Sol until this whole thing blows over.” Hermione nodded. She loved the idea of staying in a place like this. Maybe doing some gypsy magic with Calliope and Rosa, living across the hall from Nail and going dancing every night.

“ I can’t,” she said, “ I can’t just leave. It’s my problem too.”

Nail sighed.

“ Oh, why are you always going?” she asked him, “ I want you to stay. Aren’t you even going to wait until they cut the wedding cake?”

“ You can’t leave,” Nail said, “ And I can’t stay.” He winked at her, “ Get it?”

“ Pretend for five seconds that things aren’t the way they are,” Hermione begged.

“ Alright,” he said, giving her a look with those intense eyes. Before she knew what was happening, he leaned forward and gave her a kiss she could feel in her toes. Hermione’s eyes fluttered shut, and she could feel her heartbeat in her ears. He pulled back from her and looked at her with half-closed eyes for a moment.

“ That was five seconds,” he muttered with a tiny smile, “ See ya.” With that he turned and walked away, through the crowd of dancing people, and out of her life again.

Hermione sat frozen on the table, clutching the now half-crushed can of Coke. Clio was pushing her way through the crowd, beaming at her.

“ Hey, girl!” she said, giving Hermione a hug. “ I haven’t gotten a real chance to talk to you. Everything’s just happening so fast… I can’t believe I’m going to meet Ron’s family tomorrow!”

“ Uh-huh,” Hermione said.

“ Anyway, Harry’s looking for you,” she said, “ Where have ya been?”

“ Oh,” Hermione said, “ Just…talking to your brother!”