The aftermath of the dementor encounter: Harry and Hermione have a heart-to-heart, Harry gains a new wand, and then learns of an interesting piece of his past.
Chapter 6 - New Developments
When Harry finally stirred back into consciousness, the first thing that came out of his mouth was a soft groan of discomfort. The sterile white environment that he was in blinded him, his hands were stiff and stinging and his whole body felt like he had been struck with a dozen bludgeoning hexes. He looked down and saw that his hands and lower arms were heavily wrapped in gauze. He also saw a tube sticking out of his arm, which lead to a bag of clear liquid hanging from a nearby pole.
A door on the far end of the room glided open, and a middle-aged man in Healer robes stepped through, a clipboard in his hand.
"Ahh, you're awake now," he said, a tone of satisfaction in his voice. Harry groaned as the brightness of the room strained his eyes. "Tell me; what's the last thing you remember?" the Healer asked him. Harry thought back to the attack in the cemetery.
"We were attacked by dementors," Harry said, his voice soft and raspy. "There was an explosion." Suddenly, Harry remembered about Hermione. He tried to shoot up into a sitting position, but the pain that shot through his body curtailed that decision.
"Your friend is fine," the Healer assured Harry, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "She's currently sleeping in the next room; she only left your side twice since you two came in here, and I had to give her a potion so she could rest." At his words, Harry relaxed somewhat. "As for you," the Healer continued, flipping through the pages on his clipboard, "you went through quite a beating before showing up here. Second degree magic-induced burns on your hands, face chest and arms, several wooden splinters deeply embedded in your hands and face, and several minor fractures in your wrist, ribs and skull. I also found evidence of numerous older internal injuries," he listed off of the charts he was holding.
"I got into fights a lot," Harry said vaguely. The Healer seemed to accept his answer, and wrote something down on the clipboard.
"Well, you're in luck," the Healer said, "with plenty of rest and potions, you should be fully recovered after a week or so; you won't even have any scars."
"That'd be nice," Harry muttered so softly he barely heard himself speak. The Healer scribbled something else down, then pulled out a syringe from his pocket, and injected it into the tube in Harry's arm.
"This is a potion to help you sleep," the Healer said as he disposed of the needle, "you look like you could use some more." Harry did not respond, as the potion ran through his system and took almost immediate effect, rendering him unconscious.
A week and a half after Harry had awoken in the hospital, he was finally deemed fit to be released. Hermione had been released much earlier, and had informed Harry that she had changed their current residence from a hotel room to a two-bedroom house that she saw available for rent. When he asked her about the change, she simply said that she had some plans that required more space and privacy than a hotel room could provide.
His extended stay at the hospital allowed Harry to think about things he had not thought about for a while: particularly, his feelings for his best friend, Hermione Granger.
Harry remembered that he had found her attractive right before the will reading three years ago, but with the thoughts of escaping the country and the past three years of studying and training, it had slipped to the back of his mind. But with his recent near-death experience, they had gathered at the front of his mind again.
Harry thought about all that Hermione had done for him over the years. From the potion riddle in first year to coming with him when he left England, Hermione had stood by him throughout thick and thin. He also noticed with a pang of guilt that he had never once thanked her for it.
He also realized that they were both dangerously close to dying -- or worse that night. Harry tried to think about how life would be if Hermione was no longer there -- and saw nothing. Hermione was such a significant part of his life, that if she died or was condemned to the rest of her natural life as a soulless husk, Harry was not sure if he could continue functioning.
After Hermione had taken Harry back to their new abode and had given him a tour, he turned to her.
"Umm, Hermione, I've been thinking," he began hesitantly. "I've had a lot of time to think in that hospital, and I realized that I never thanked you for all your help, so I just want to thank you...for everything." Hermione chuckled and shook her head.
"You've never had to thank me, Harry," she said. "Although if my next plan works out, which I don't doubt, then you better thank me, mister," she continued, jabbing his shoulder playfully. Harry chuckled lightly, but quickly became serious again.
"There's another thing," he said. "I also think...I think I may like you, as more as a friend," he confessed, looking down at his feet.
"You think you like me?" Hermione repeated his words, her voice neutral. When Harry nodded his head slightly, she did not immediately answer. "I'll tell you what," she finally said, lifting his chin. "When you figure out whether you like me as a friend, or not, then let me know. Until then, I've got work to do, so if you'll excuse me," she said, walking around Harry and entering an office room, closing the door and casting a locking charm on it. Harry stared at the blank door for over a minute before he finally went to his own room.
For the next three weeks, Harry had studied alone while Hermione worked on her secret project, emerging only to eat, sleep and use the bathroom. She always locked the door tightly, and refused to tell Harry what she was working on. Finally, she came up to him, hands hidden behind her back.
"Harry, do you mind doing something for me?" she asked sweetly.
"O...kay," he drawled uncertainly, turning to face her. Smiling innocently, she pulled out her hand to reveal a glass slide and a pin.
"I need a sample of your blood," she said. "I've already sterilized the needle for you." Harry was leery of the needle, but trusted that whatever Hermione was working on was not especially dangerous, so he took the pin and quickly pricked his finger, dripping blood onto the slide. After a large droplet had pooled onto the slide, Hermione healed his pinprick. "Thanks, you won't regret this," she said before carefully walking back to her office. Half an hour later, Hermione returned, hands once again behind her back.
"What is it this time?" Harry asked.
"Remember that project I've been working on?" Hermione asked, ignoring his question.
"The one that you refuse to tell me about, yeah?"
"Well, I'm finished, and this is for you," she said, holding out a hand to show that she was holding a long package. He took it and looked at it carefully. It was over a foot long, and the box did nothing to reveal its contents, so he opened it, and nearly dropped it in surprise. Inside was a rod of black stone, almost four centimeters in diameter, and tapered to a point at one end. The shaft was covered with various runes and carvings, and the handle carved into the back made it unmistakably a wand.
"Wow..." Harry whispered as he carefully took out the wand and held it in his hand, feeling the power within it. He flicked it at a vase on the far end of the room, and it carefully rose up off of its perch.
"The shaft is made from black onyx, and the core is a dementor's arm bone," Hermione said matter-of-factly. This prompted Harry to look up at her.
"What?!" he exclaimed, looking down at the wand in his hand.
"I recovered one of the arms of the dementor that you destroyed last month," Hermione said, ignoring his outburst. "I thought that it would be interesting to see what I could do with it, and this is the result. I made my own as well," she continued, holding out her other hand to reveal an identical wand to his own. Harry continued to stare at the wand in his hand. One the one hand, he was not sure about what to think about wielding a wand with a piece of a dementor in it. On the other hand, it felt so powerful, so natural, that using any other wand simply would not feel right.
"Okay, I guess I can accept it," he finally said. "But what about my blood?"
"That's the interesting part," Hermione said excitedly. "I designed it so that the only people who can use our wands are us and our direct relatives. So if someone does manage to disarm us, they won't be able to use our wands against us."
"Wow," Harry repeated himself from earlier. "I didn't think it'd possible to make wands at home," he said, amazed.
"Well, we do seem to have a knack for doing the impossible," Hermione said modestly. Harry chuckled at her display as he stood up.
"One other thing, Hermione," he said. "I've been thinking about what you said, about telling you if I liked you as more than a friend or not, and I've come to a decision." Clearing his throat, Harry gathered up all his Gryffindor courage for his next words. "I...like you as more than a friend, and would like to have a relationship with you." He anxiously awaited her reply, which did not come immediately. "So...what do you think?" he asked, trying to elicit a response from her.
"What do I think?" she repeated, her face unreadable. Quietly, she stepped closer to him and set her wand down on the table. "Here's a hint," she said before grabbing his hair and crushing his lips against her own. Harry was momentarily stunned at his friend's bold move, but the tension in his body soon disappeared, and he wrapped his arms around her, opening his mouth to deepen the kiss. Almost a minute later, they separated, both gasping for breath.
"Anything you'd like to tell me, Hermione?" Harry asked, surprised.
"Only that I've been waiting for this for a while," Hermione said, chuckling.
"Oh?" Harry quipped, intrigued. "How long, pray tell?" Hermione grinned coyly at him.
"Does it matter?" she asked him, before pulling him into another kiss. Harry decided not to answer her question.
Several days later, Harry and Hermione were standing in line at the Salem branch of Gringotts. That morning, Harry saw a newspaper article that had prompted his interest, so they were currently standing in line to make an appointment for an inheritance ritual.
The article was a publication by a joint group of magical historians and geneticists that, through both DNA samples and genealogy research, have theorized that up to ten percent of Muggleborn witches and wizards may in fact have a distant magical ancestor, and that their magical abilities was the reoccurrence of a gene that had been forced into dormancy through dilution of non-magical DNA. The rest of the article made little sense to Harry, but he found the premise interesting, and suggested that he and Hermione attempt an inheritance ritual to see if they had any long-lost magical relatives that they didn’t know about.
"Maybe you're the long-lost descendant of Ravenclaw," Harry joked, which earned him a swat on the shoulder.
As they finally reached the front of the general information desk, the Goblin looked down at them with a scowl.
"What do you two want?" it snapped testily.
"I was wondering where I should go to arrange an inheritance ritual?" Harry asked politely. The goblin simply waved its hand where they should go and grunted for the next person. Thanking the teller, Harry and Hermione walked to another desk, one with no line and a clearly bored Goblin sitting behind it.
"What?" it grunted simply, idly tapping its talon-like nails on its desk.
"I'd like an appointment for two inheritance rituals, please," Harry requested. The Goblin snapped its fingers and a large, heavy tome appeared on the desk with a thump. The Goblin opened the large book and thumbed through its pages.
"You're in luck, there's an opening right now. Follow me," it ordered, making the book disappear and jumping down from its seat to lead Harry and Hermione into another room, where another Goblin was waiting for them.
"These two want an inheritance ritual," the first Goblin said shortly before turning around and returning to its post. The Goblin stared at them appraisingly before beckoning them to sit down.
"I assume that you are here because of the newspaper article this morning, the one concerning Muggleborns?" it asked. When Harry and Hermione nodded in affirmation, the Goblin reached into its desk and pulled out two sheets of paper and two blood-red quills. Hermione recognized them from books, but Harry had experienced them firsthand, and instinctively clenched his right fist.
"Do we have to use those?" Harry asked evenly.
"Yes, you do," the Goblin confirmed. "You have to write your full name on the top of the page, and I suggest you do it quickly." Sighing in resignation, Harry and Hermione both took up their blood quills and signed their names on the paper, wincing as the artifact briefly carved their signatures into their flesh. However, unlike his experience with Umbridge, while the scratches faded away, the signature on the paper remained.
The Goblin waved its hand over Hermione name, and it sat for several seconds before fading away.
"It seems that you do not have any outstanding vaults to claim, Miss Granger," the Goblin said neutrally before turning to Harry's page and repeating the action. The paper sat for several seconds before more lines began to bleed into the paper, much like Tom Riddle's memory did in his diary.
Harry James Potter
Paternal descent - GTB Vault No. 854, Potter
Will inheritance - GTB Vault. No. 711, Black
Neither of these names had surprised Harry. Sirius' will was given to him during his will reading, and it only made sense that he would inherit the Potter fortune when he became of age. However, one other line appeared that did surprise him.
Maternal descent - FNC Vault No. 639, Mortis
Hmm...the plot thickens. And the Harmony happened, yay!
I got the Black vault number from the HP Lexicon.