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Hermione and the Silver Boots

By Mena Baines

It was almost evening at Hogwarts school for Witchcraft and Wizardry, and while most of the students were rushing off to Hogsmeade to celebrate the last weekend before Winter break, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter were just settling in to their usual table at the library. Wanting to get an early start on studying for their mid-term exams, they had opted to stay behind. Even their best friend Ron had gone off with Rosa, Seamus and their other seventh year friends to check out the Christmas lights and make themselves sick with too much butterbeer and candy. But as Harry sidled up next to her with the Encyclopedia Mythica, Hermione didn’t feel as though she were missing anything.

“ Can I see your notes on Hermes and the golden shoes?” Harry asked her, leaning over her shoulder, “ Mine are a mess…I can’t even read my own handwriting—“

“ Here you go,” Hermione said, handing them over, “ Those are relatively legible. There’s some stuff about the Underworld in there, too—“

“ Oh, good, I needed that…”

Hermione happily went about her work, only half-noticing that Harry was casually leaning up against her as he scribbled down answers to his mythology review questions. She was glad they could still be so comfortable together—they had been through a lot in the past couple of weeks.

“ Where did that book on Atlantis get off to?” Hermione asked, glancing about the table, “ I just had it…”

“ It’s right here,” Harry said, reaching around her to grab it. Hermione smiled as he awkwardly noticed that he had his arm around her now, and they both giggled. Harry scooted closer to her, “ I can’t concentrate,” he said, his voice small.

Hermione laughed—nervously, and louder than she’d planned. She took the book from him, not knowing what to say. She saw someone approach the table out of the corner of her eye.

“ Excuse me, Mr. Potter,” It was one of the librarians—Mrs. Botts, or something like that, “ Professor McGonagall needs to see you immediately.” She said, giving him a dark look.

“ Oh,” Harry said, his arm sliding off of Hermione’s shoulders. “ Okay,” he said, looking at his lap.

“ Mm-hm.” The librarian said curtly, walking away.

Hermione looked at Harry and frowned, “ What does McGonagall want with you now? Aren’t you doing well in her class this term?” She asked.

Harry nodded solemnly. “ It’s not about that.” He said, and then he glanced around the library. He hurriedly grabbed a piece of parchment and scribbled on it:

Let’s get out of here.

Hermione, not really understanding, nodded anyway and followed him out of the library, past the suspicious eyes of the librarian. “ You’d better go back to the common room, Hermione,” Harry said loudly as they left, “ I’ll go find Professor—“

As soon as the heavy wooden doors to the library closed he stopped talking, and grabbed Hermione’s arm, pulling her behind him until they reached Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Harry slipped inside and pulled Hermione in with him.

“ Harry!” Hermione said, “ What’s going on? Why are we sneaking around?”

Harry just smiled. “ I have to stay here for Christmas,” he said, “ And you’re going away, right?”

“ Yeah…” Hermione said, not really following him. “ My family wants me home this year.”

“ I don’t blame them.” Harry said, “ But let’s do something fun before you go, okay? I’ll talk to Professor McGonagall later.”

“ But…” He still hadn’t really answered her question, “ What about our mid-terms?”

Harry rolled his eyes, “ Come off it, Hermione, I’m sure you’ll do fine. Now go get my broom from the boy’s dorm and meet me on the Astronomy deck in five minutes.”

“ Why can’t you go get your broom?” she asked. “ I don’t want to sneak into the boys’ rooms—“

“ Oh, Hermione, just trust me, alright?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. Hermione nodded and left the bathroom for Gryffindor tower, partly excited, but partly terrified that Harry was going to make her flunk all her exams.

****************************************************************************

Hermione rushed up to the Astronomy deck once she had Harry’s Firebolt, only narrowly missing a collision with an angry looking Snape. Oddly enough he’d been wearing a nice collar-shirt under his robe, and his hair looked a bit less greasy than usual.

“ Watch where you’re going, Mrs. Granger,” he grumbled before hurrying away.

Hermione ran up the stairs to the deck, pushing open the doors and looking for Harry, who was no where to be seen. When he jumped out of the shadows she gasped in surprise.

“ Sorry,” he said, taking his broom. “ Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“ It’s all right.” Hermione said, looking up at the darkening sky. “ I didn’t realize how late it was.”

“ Yeah,” Harry said, walking to the ledge. “ Want to go for dinner?”

“ Harry!” Hermione said, “ What do you mean? Where?”

He laughed, “ At, Hogsmeade, Hermione—where else do we ever go?”

Hermione’s cheeks turned red. “ On….that?”

“ It’s a Firebolt! It can hold two people.”

“ Oh, Harry, I don’t know.” She said, and he kicked off the ledge and hung in the air on his broom.

“ Come on,” he said, flying over to her, “ Before McGonagall finds us out.”

“ Harry…” Hermione said with a sigh. Sometimes she wondered if they were suited for each other. He was so daring and she was so…not. “ Have you at least got any money?” she asked.

“ I think so. You?”

Hermione, almost aggravated that he wouldn’t want to pay for her dinner, fished through her coin purse. “ I’ve got…two sickles and some knuts.”

“ That’ll be enough.” he said, “ Come on—hurry!” He reached down and picked her up with ease, and threw her in front of him on the broom. “ Go on,” he said, his mouth so close to her ear that she got goosebumps, “ You can steer.”

“ Oh, Harry, don’t tease me!” she said, her hands shaking. Harry laughed and grabbed hold of the broom, and they—somehow—haphazardly made it to Hogsmeade before the sun had set.

****************************************************************************

Hogsmeade was more beautiful at night than Hermione could have imagined. It’s lights sparkled with a supernatural air, and reflected radiantly off the newly-fallen snow. She hooked arms with Harry and they walked through town, the streets only slightly busy, as most of the patrons had taken refuge from the chill of December inside the restaurants or stores.

“ Hey, Harry,” came the syrupy voice of Lavender Brown, accompanied by her devious friend Pavarti. They both winked and smiled at him as they passed. Hermione instinctively squeezed him closer to her.

Harry looked over at her and grinned.

“ It’s…cold out here.” Hermione muttered.

They came upon the Three Broomsticks, and peeked in the windows. Ron was inside with Ginny and Dean Thomas, who were laughing and eating slices of pie.

“ We should join them.” Hermione said, wanting nothing less than a loud dinner with their friends.

“ Yeah…” Harry muttered half-heartedly, and they looked at each other and walked on, giggling.

Before they could walk past, Rosa walked out the door with Draco. She beamed when she saw them, while Draco ducked behind her and began wiping pink lipstick smudges off his cheeks.

“ Oh, so you came!” Rosa said, giving Hermione a hug and squeezing her breath out of her. “ I thought you were going to stay at the castle and be studious.”

Hermione coughed, “ Well—“

“ Change of plans.” Harry said.

“ Right.”

Rosa smiled, “ Isn’t that cute?” she asked Draco, and he scowled.

“ Whatever, McNally.” He mumbled, clearly embarrassed that he’d been caught hanging out with a Gryffindor girl.

“ Anyhow,” Rosa said, “ I’ll talk to you all later—unless you want to double date?”

Harry laughed, Hermione slapped her forehead with her hand, and Draco sneered at Rosa menacingly.

“ Well then,” Rosa said with a chipper smile, “ We’re off!” she grabbed Draco’s hand and winked at Hermione, “ Oh, but did you hear?” she asked, “ Ginny and Seamus broke up! Can you believe it?”

“ That’s too bad—“ Hermione began.

“ I’m sure they’re positively FASCINATED, McNally,” Draco said sarcastically, yanking her away. Harry and Hermione stood and watched them go, Rosa planting kisses on Draco’s face as he argued with her about her horrible taste in friends.

“ Very odd.” Harry said.

“ Indeed.”

“ Come on,” he said, “ Let’s find someplace else to eat. There’s a nice restaurant somewhere up there past the Shrieking Shack,”

“ Oh, Harry, we can’t afford anything nice!” Hermione said, glancing down at her outfit. She was wearing black pants and a sweater—not nice enough for any fancy restaurant.

“ Sure we can,” Harry said, pulling her toward the ritzy part of Hogwarts. They passed an antique collectibles shop and an exotic pet store. A small dinosaur-like creature whined at them from the window display.

“ Here it is,” Harry said, as they came upon the most nicely decorated building in Hogsmeade. “ The Chez Rumaire. I hear they have an excellent shark fin soup,” Harry joked as they walked inside. Hermione rolled her eyes. She already felt out of place, having sneaked out of school to go on a date, and now here she was at this fancy restaurant. Hermione wished she at least had her peacoat, so she’d look more presentable.

“ Can I help you?” asked the host, who reminded Hermione of Draco Malfoy’s snotty father.

“ Yeah, we want a table.” Harry said gracelessly. The host squinted one eye and smiled falsely.

“ Right this way,” he said, and led them toward the back. For all it’s snobbiness, the Chez Rumaire was very impressive on the inside as well. Dozens of sparkling fir trees lined the walls, and garlands full of twinkling lights were draped over the windows. Hermione saw that it had begun to snow again outside as she and Harry took their seats.

“ Can I get you something to drink?” the host asked before he left.

“ You have butterbeer?” Harry asked. The host shook his head.

“ Pumpkin juice?” Hermione asked. He shook his head again.

“ What DO you have?” Harry asked, turning the menu upside-down. “ Is this in English?”

“ We have one of the most extensive wine lists in the country,” the host said, offended, “ But I can see that you are both under-age. So I assume you’ll be having water.”

“ That’s fine.” Hermione said quickly, to get rid of him. Once he was gone she looked at Harry. His eyes were twinkling, but she could tell something was up.

“ What are we doing here?” she asked, shaking her head.

“ Having dinner?” Harry said, confused.

Hermione sighed. “ Don’t be daft. Do you think I can’t tell when something is going on with you? The other night after your Quidditch match you tried to tell me something, and Madame Pomfrey wouldn’t let you. And then there was that strange way you ran out of the library after—“

“ Hermione—“ Harry said, holding up his hand. “ Don’t make me talk about this now.”

“ Wha—why not?” Hermione asked, angry.

“ It’ll only upset you, trust me.”

“ Well now you’ve upset me anyway, so why not say something?” Hermione asked, furious with him.

He sighed. “ Fine. You want me to scare you? You want me to make you worry?”

“ Well…” Hermione said, “ I…I want to know the truth, yes!”

Harry gave her a sad look, and a waiter came and brought them their water. To Hermione it suddenly seemed very ridiculous that they were in this restaurant at all. They ordered French onion soup and fish, but Hermione wasn’t hungry.

“ Tell me.” She said, once the waiter had gone, “ When have we ever kept anything from each other?”

Harry was thoughtful for a moment. “ In our third year,” he said, “ You were using the time turner and you didn’t tell me and Ron.”

“ I did tell you!” Hermione said, “ At the end of the year—when it was safe! And anyway, that was only because McGonagall wouldn’t LET me tell you guys.”

“ Precisely!” Harry said, throwing his hands up in the air and causing some of Chez Rumaire’s other patrons to glance over suspiciously. “ You couldn’t tell us because the teachers thought it wouldn’t be safe for us to know!”

“ What are you saying?” Hermione asked, her voice beginning to quiver. “ The teachers know about this?”

Harry nodded solemnly. The waiter returned with their food, but neither of them picked up a fork.

“ So do they all know about it?” Hermione asked, “ Or just McGonagall?”

“ Hermione—stop it!” Harry hissed, slamming his fist down on the table and making her jump. “ Sorry—but, but—this isn’t like one of our old school yard mysteries where we play amateur sleuths and save the day, okay? This is serious, and, and I don’t want to talk about it!”

Hermione’s eyes filled with tears, and she picked at her fish, embarrassed. “ Serious?” she squeaked. Harry sighed.

“ I don’t know yet. It’s a lot of Divination and speculation, okay?”

“ But, Harry…I’ve been having these dreams…” Hermione said, trying to steady her voice.

“ Hermione…”

“ And I know you’ve been having nightmares too—I, I was in your room once, you were talking in your sleep—“

“ Look, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.” Harry muttered, eating his soup. “ It’s almost Christmas break, anyway—I just want to forget all of this for a while…” he frowned, “ What were you doing in my room?”

“ Um….” Hermione trailed off, “ I don’t remember…I was worried about you.”

They both looked at each other for a long time, and Hermione found herself wishing she could just get out of her chair and crawl into Harry’s lap. I’m such a baby, she thought, quietly eating her soup, I just want him to hold me and tell me everything will be okay.

****************************************************************************

Not surprisingly, Hermione couldn’t sleep that night. She stayed up with Rosa for awhile, talking about silly things like Ginny and Seamus breaking up, and Rosa’s little escapade with Draco. Hermione tried desperately to concentrate on their gossip, but her mind kept wandering back to Harry, and the strange events of the past few weeks.

Eventually, Rosa fell asleep and left Hermione alone with her thoughts. I should be worrying about my midterms, Hermione thought, not about…him. Harry can take care of himself…she tried to convince herself that this was true, but she wondered if Harry would have been all right without her help when they freed his godfather Sirius three years ago. She wondered if he would have been able to protect the sorcerer’s stone in their first year without the help of she and Ron. Well, he’s grown up a lot since then, Hermione thought. But he acted like he was in such serious danger…she shivered.

When Hermione still couldn’t sleep she started daydreaming. About saving Harry’s life, and how brave she’d be, how grateful he would be in return. Whatever happens to him, I can’t let him go through it alone, she decided.

Tired of tossing and turning, Hermione climbed out of bed. Not really thinking, she wandered out of her room, and then out of the girl’s dorms. She lingered for a moment before the stairs leading to the boy’s dormitories, and then walked on.

Hermione went into the common room and sat on the sofa, watching the last embers of the fire fade away. She was so bored she couldn’t stand it, and she started to get up to get her books so she could work on a few subjects when the portrait hole opened, and someone stepped inside.

Hermione was frightened for a moment, and then she realized it was only Professor McGonagall. Professor McGonagall—perfect! Now she could ask her what was going on—she and McGonagall had always been close. Hermione was sure she would tell her.

“ Oh, good,” McGonagall said when she saw Hermione, “ You’re already up.” She smiled, a rare, friendly McGonagall smile. Hermione was so happy to see her Professor—and at the prospect of figuring out what was going on with Harry—that she went to her and wrapped her teacher in a hug.

“ Hermione,” McGonagall said, “ What’s wrong?”

Hermione laughed. “ Nothing.” She said, “ Everything. Can we talk?” McGonagall nodded.

“ Yes. We need to. Come with me.” She said, and Hermione followed her to her office. She sat down near McGongall’s tiny fireplace, where a fire was still blazing. It was awfully late…had her Professor stayed up just to talk to her? Hermione heart beat faster—just how important WAS this trouble that Harry had gotten himself into?

Professor McGonagall took a seat behind her desk and sighed. “ Hermione,” she said, in a voice that sounded kind of disappointed, “ I saw you tonight. At the Chez Rumaire. With Harry.”

Hermione swallowed her nerves. She hadn’t realized Professor McGonagall would make such a big deal out it…it had been a school authorized night to go to Hogsmeade, after all…

“ Yeah, sorry.” Hermione said, pulling at the fringe on her nightgown. “ You were there?”

McGonagall nodded and rolled her eyes. “ Yes. With Serveus.”

“ S-Snape?” Hermione asked in disbelief.

“ Correct.” McGonagall said, examining her nails, “ It’s Christmas—I could hardly say no. He’s been chasing me for years, the poor thing. But that’s not the point.”

“ The point,” Hermione nodded, “ Right,”

“ The point is,” McGonagall said with a sigh, “ That if you don’t learn from the past you are bound to repeat it. A muggle said that, you know, but it still holds true.”

Hermione nodded, although she had no idea what McGonagall was talking about.

McGonagall sighed again—she seemed exasperated, she looked tired. “ Where do you want me to begin?” she asked Hermione. “ I think I have a lot of explaining to do. Poor Harry—he’s terrified that you’ll get involved.”

“ Involved?” Hermione said, “ I—I want to be involved!”

“ Well of course you do.” McGonagall said, tossing Hermione folded newspaper. Hermione caught it and read the headline.

“ Dark powers gathering in Northern Ireland,” she read, her eyes widening. “ That’s not far from here—why weren’t we told?” she asked.

“ Perhaps you don’t subscribe to that specific publication,” McGonagall said coolly. Hermione glanced at the title of the newspaper:

THE NETHERWORLD COMETH

She gasped and dropped the paper. It made a thundering sound as it crashed to the floor.

“ T-That’s a dark arts newspaper,” she stuttered.

“ Yes, I know.” McGonagall said, “ We went to great lengths to find one. Dumbledore knew—somehow, for the sake of Great Wizards—that something was up. You see, they’re trying to keep it from us. You-Know-Who. He’s regaining power through his disciples. Those who go to North Ireland don’t come back alive.”

“ He…kills them?” Hermione was wondering what this had to do with Harry, though she had some idea.

“ That was the plan.” McGonagall said, “ Kill as many dark wizards as he could and steal their power in a last ditch effort to make himself strong,” she shrugged, “ But he knows he hasn’t got much more time here. He’ll never be the Dark Lord he once was.”

“ Thank goodness!” Hermione said, “….Right?”

McGonagall shook her head, “ Oh no, he’ll go out with a bang, you can be sure of that. And he isn’t just going to let years of dark power die with him. He wants…” she paused for a moment searching for the right word, “ He wants his work to continue through someone else.”

“Oh,” Hermione said, “ …OH…” she understood suddenly, and her stomach started to feel sick…

“ That’s right,” McGonagall said, “ Harry Potter, the only wizard strong enough to stop him, would be the only wizard capable of receiving his powers. Voldemort has known this for some time—why do you think he’s always coming after Harry here at Hogwarts? He’s testing his strength. So far, Harry has passed.”

“ B-but Harry won’t have it, of course!” Hermione said, feeling tears spring to her eye.

“ He’ll have it or he’ll die, Hermione,” McGonagall said, swallowing.

Hermione burst into tears.

McGonagall feel to the floor beside Hermione, placing a re-assuring hand on her shoulder.

“ Hey, look,” McGonagall said, “ There’s always a chance—I mean, we all thought he was going to die as a baby, like the prophecy said! The only reason he didn’t is that someone had to sacrifice their own happiness to change the course of destiny.”

“ What?” Hermione sobbed, “ I don’t understand…any of this!”

“ Look—calm down, okay?” McGonagall said, “ We’re all trying very hard to work with Harry so he’ll come out of this alive…we just haven’t figured out how yet. Maybe you can help us!”

“ Sure,” Hermione cried, “ What could I possibly do?”

McGonagall sighed. “ You can stay away from Harry.” she said sadly, “ Or Voldemort will kill you too.”

“ WHAT?” Hermione shouted through her tears, “ How can you be telling me all this??”

“ Look…” McGonagall said, searching for a way to explain, “ James Potter died on my birthday, okay?”

“ Wha…what is that supposed to mean?”

“ Do you remember what I told you? About cursed birthdays?” her Professor asked. Hermione wiped her eyes.

“ Yes,” she said, “ You said you had one, too.”

“ I do,” McGonagall said, “ And…as the one you love is the most threatened on a cursed birthday…so was James.”

“ Huh?” Hermione had stopped crying now, too confused to even manage it, “ You…you and James were—“

“ No, no,” McGonagall said, “ He and I were never romantically involved. I made sure of that. But I loved him, Hermione, I loved him more than anything. I…still do, really,” she said.

“ So…so what are you saying?” Hermione asked, “ That being doomed to death is in his family?”

“ Sort of,” McGonagall said, “ James was a very powerful wizard, like Harry. And I was at the top of my class—the smartest witch in school…like…”

“ Me?” Hermione said weakly.

“ Precisely.” McGonagall said. “ Hermione—part of me wants to tell you that it doesn’t matter—I mean, James was killed anyway…” her voice quivered for a moment. But Harry lived, you see? He had enough of Lily’s natural goodness in him to keep Voldemort from taking him that night.”

“ He would have been the perfect pupil,” Hermione said, her voice flat, finally understanding, “ His parents dead, his father having been such a great wizard—“

“ Exactly,” McGonagall said, “ But Lily’s influence changed all of that. Do you see what I’m saying? After our third year I wouldn’t speak to James, though before then we’d been great friends. Dumbledore told me of the prophecy. He told me what would happen if we ever had a…I just couldn’t risk it.”

“ N—no!” Hermione said, slowly backing away, “ It’s not the same—I,…Harry and I aren’t having any children!”

“ That’s not the point, Hermione,” McGonagall said, standing.

“ The point…” Hermione muttered, shutting her eyes as more tears rolled down her cheeks.

“ What I’m saying is that Voldemort sees you as a threat. Should Harry survive, and remain close to you as he gets older, the possibility of you two having an extremely powerful child is too great. Involving yourself in this is like a death wish.”

“ What about Harry?” Hermione asked, crying, “ What difference does it make if I live when he’s going to…”

McGonagall went to her desk and opened the bottom drawer with a tiny key, “ Don’t talk like that, Hermione,” she said, “ Your life is worth more than you know.” She sighed, and pulled a large white box out of the drawer, “ I know you are very headstrong, and are planning this very moment to go against my wishes. But you must know that Harry isn’t going to want you in danger, either.”

Hermione fell into a chair, afraid she would collapse from over-exertion, just from trying to think this whole thing out. She rubbed her temples and wondered if she should tell Professor McGonagall about the Dream.

“ Hermione,” McGonagall said, walking to her with the white box, “ I don’t want you getting hurt. But…just in case—“ She slid the box into Hermione’s hands. Hermione sniffed, and opened the lid carefully. Inside was a pair of shining silver boots.

“ Running shoes,” Hermione muttered.

“ That’s right,” McGonagall said, watching Hermione touch the smooth silver material carefully.

“ They’ll move you as fast as a Phoenix can fly—have you the need for them.” She looked up at Hermione, and she could see years of sorrow and regret embedded in the older woman’s dark eyes. Hermione felt for her—she’d given up the great love of her life for a prophecy, for some false destiny that had been distorted and mis-predicted. Is she telling me not to make the same mistake? Hermione wondered, clutching the box that held the boots. Is that what she means by giving me these boots? Hermione looked for an answer in her teacher’s eyes.

Hermione’s mind was racing. Dumbledore must have told McGonagall to give her this speech—for her own sake, if nothing else—but did she believe her own words?

“ I thought you didn’t believe in Divination.” Hermione whispered, beginning to feel tired.

“ I don’t.” McGonagall whispered in return. Hermione managed a tiny smile, and hugged her Professor again. This time she felt her squeeze back. “ Be careful.” She whispered.

****************************************************************************

Hermione left Professor McGonagall’s office with red eyes, tear-streaked cheeks, and a pair of silver boots that would let her run like the wind if she had to. She was scared, and her hands were shaking in way that made her wonder if they’d ever stop. But she also felt a twisted sense of relief. She knew what was happening. And in her heart, and in the strange twinkle in McGonagall’s eyes, she had seen that there was a ghost of chance that she could help Harry.

Great Wizards, she thought, what will I say to him?

Hermione knew where she was going now. She shoved the boots under her bed and walked back out the door quietly so she wouldn’t wake Rosa. She crept up the stairs to the boys’ dorms, and into Harry’s room toward the end of the hall. She slunk past Ron’s bed, preparing to tell Harry she knew everything, and that she didn’t plan on sitting back and watching him die. But as soon as she saw him there, slumbering peacefully, Hermione couldn’t bring herself to wake him. She knelt down beside him, reached over and gently touched his cheek as he slept.

“ I will never let anything happen to you,” she said, in a tiny whisper. “ I swear to all the Great Wizards, to the Sun, the Moon and the Maker.” With that she rested her head against the side of the bed, shut her eyes and listened to his even breathing.

Without meaning to, Hermione fell asleep there beside Harry’s bed. And without wanting to, she dreamt of the Forrest.

She was wearing the nightgown, and bleeding from her arm, like always. But now she was running. Running like the wind, flying through the woods in her Silver Boots. They were now in the dream, carrying her along like McGonagall said, like the wings of a Phoenix.

Hermione subconsciously realized something as she watched herself run through the woods in the dream, the look on her face now determined and knowing. She realized that you can change destiny, that nothing is set for sure. She had done it before, with Harry, by traveling back and saving Sirius and Buckbeak with the time turner. McGonagall had done it tonight by giving her the Silver Boots.

And Hermione Granger would do it again, by saving Harry’s life.

The End…until next time! :0)