Hermes' secret

Chapter 20

'Yesterday's trial went very well. I must congratulate myself upon our success' Bellatrix boasted ,loudly, sitting on the torn and clawed at remains of an armchair. 'The girl fainted ,though' she looked piercingly upon a haughty, dishevelled-looking man ,who was currently downing a whole bottle of fire whisky 'That was not part of the plan'

'I cannot help it. I've never worked on a curse like this before' the dishevelled man spoke ,not looking at Bellatrix and shrugging nonchalantly.

'Well then, it won't be my fault if you're accidentally recaptured by the Aurors ,Antonin Dolohov' Bellatrix threatened.

'You wouldn't let them get me' Dolohov hissed ,smirking ,his yellowing teeth showing 'You need me'

'You should be thankful you're here and alive. My wife is a genius to get you out of there. We would be rotting disgustingly in that cell, if it wasn't for her' Rudolphus Lestrange spat at Dolohov ,getting up from his seat on the floor ,as if ready to fight.

'Stop fighting ,you two!' Lucius Malfoy barked at the them. 'If any of you have any sense at all, you'd settle your differences. We are all needed, if the girl is to be lured'

'We're lucky Greyback's not here or Lucius and he would be at each other throats the whole time' Rodolphus chuckled darkly. 'Talk about hypocrites'

'Greyback isn't needed ,though. It's just us. We'll let the rest out only if they're good' Bellatrix said ,her voice level ,but a hint of malice in his voice.

'Or if they beg' Lucius smirked ,exchanging a malicious smirk with Bellatrix.

Hermione awoke ,a musty smelling book draped across her face. Swatting 'Cursed Scars and their uses' of from her face and sitting up in bed, Hermione blinked blearily as she tried to remember the dream she was having. There were four…people and they were sitting in some kind of shack. She couldn't help but feel that she knew the place and the people ,like they were long lost relatives or something. She shook her head ,hastily. Her family were muggles and the people from her dream were certainly wizards. Pushing any thought of her unsettled sleep out of her mind, Hermione proceeded to get dressed.

She was still sleeping in the same dormitory as before ,but the boys now made sure to give her space and acknowledge her gender. She could now sleep as a girl and Hermione liked it this way. She wasn't going to admit it out loud, but she really missed wearing skirts and dresses -trousers were most uncomfortable. She pitied the male population. Getting up from her four poster bed, Hermione patted down her night dress before collecting her robes from her trunk.

'Nice view to wake up to' came a lazy voice from behind her. It was Theo. His eyes were barely open and he was watching her with a smirk 'Thanks ,Granger'

'Oh, Shut up' Hermione said ,hitting him playfully on the arm 'What would Ginny say?'

'Ginny?' Theo asked ,rather startled 'As in Ginny Weasley?'

'Which other Ginny do we know?' Hermione said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

'What do you mean ,what will she say? She can say what she likes.' Theo shrugged ,trying to sound off-hand ,but Hermione saw an unrecognisable glint in his eyes. She shook her head disbelievingly. He and Ginny weren't official ,but it was obvious to any sensible person what was going on. Hermione had even heard a young fourth-year talking about how cute a couple they were. Trying to hide her knowing smile, Hermione walked into the bathroom to change and transform.

Feeling like she was really missing something, Hermione ascended the steps to the ground floor. Everyone she passed was looking at her and whispering behind their hands. She even caught one gaggle of fifth-year Slytherins give her a group of brilliant smiles as she walked past and one of them actually patted her on the back saying 'good luck' ,even though she'd never talked to them before. Finding it rather unnerving now, Hermione gingerly made her way into the Great Hall. Everyone seemed to turn their head to look at her as she headed towards Blaise, Theo, Draco and Pansy ,who were awaiting her with excitement.

'I am so excited for this afternoon' Pansy squealed ,as Hermione sat down at the table.

'What do you mean?' Hermione asked ,utterly perplexed. Were they in on this thing too?

'Don't tell me you forgot?' Blaise chuckled ,shaking his head disbelievingly before holding his hands up as if looking at a banner 'Hermione Granger ,the Brightest Witch of her Age, forgets her legendary duel against Harry Potter a day after she announces it'

'Keep your voice down' Pansy chided ,at Blaise's use of the girl's real name ,looking to Hermione as if expecting her to give them a lecture on it ,but Hermione wasn't paying attention. Her head was buried in her hands as she groaned softly.

'It isn't that bad ,is it?' Draco asked ,placing a hand on her shoulder comfortingly.

'I am so, so, so, so, so stupid' Hermione muttered ,almost like a mantra ,into her hands before looking up and asking 'How could I forget?'

'Don't worry, it's not like you have to practise ,anyway' Draco said ,rubbing soothing circles with his thumb on her back. Hermione felt herself calming considerably ,at Draco's small, circular massage and looked up at him ,smiling gratefully. Theo suddenly had some sort of 'coughing' fit and they looked over at him questioningly.

'Yes?' Draco asked ,eyebrows raised.

'I think I swallowed something' Theo shrugged innocently ,but the moment Draco and Hermione looked away, he grinned knowingly.

'I shouldn't have even challenged him' Hermione said ,after catching a glimpse of Harry ,who was showing off at the Gryffindor table.

'Don't you want to wipe that smirk off his face ,though?' Pansy asked ,glaring at Harry menacingly.

'I do ,but…' Hermione trailed off.

'It's not right?' Blaise guessed.

'You're breaking the rules?' Theo asked.

'I'm what!' Hermione asked him ,suddenly standing up. 'This doesn't break school rules ,does it?' She looked at Draco, Blaise and Pansy ,who were trying not to laugh at her.

'I'm only joking ,Granger' Theo said ,pulling her back into her seat 'No need to get your knickers in a twist'

'Keep. Your. Voice. Down.' Hermione hissed angrily.

'Scared ,Orion?' A voice asked from further down the Slytherin table. Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley were swaggering towards them ,hands in their pockets and smirks in place. They were the absolute sight of perfection and girls at the other tables sighed in appreciation. No one on the Slytherin table was happy to see them ,though.

'Of what?' Hermione asked 'You?' Draco, Blaise, Pansy and Theo got up ,as if in unison to support their friend.

'You should be' Harry said ,rather lamely.

'He defeated Voldemort. I bet that he can defeat an average student' Ron added ,smirking satisfactorily at Hermione as he saw her face pink slightly.

'We wouldn't be scared of you two with our hands tied behind our backs' Draco sneered ,taking over for Hermione at the sight of her pink face.

'You defeated the Dark Lord with a disarming charm' Pansy added ,rolling her eyes.

'Still call him the Dark Lord?' Harry sneered 'Probably trying to resurrect him'

'You shut your mouth!' Blaise thundered.

'Ooooh' Ron taunted. 'Touchy ,eh?'

'What did you come here for?' Hermione asked ,teeth gritted ,as she tried not to make much of a scene.

'I've chosen my second' Harry said ,pointing at Ron 'Whose yours?'

'My second?' Hermione asked ,realising just now that she hadn't chosen hers.

'You're going to need him' Harry smirked.

'Draco's my second' Hermione said ,as calmly as she could. This effort seriously had to pay off at some point.

Harry looked Draco up and down 'Not too bad then' Draco was seriously contemplating whether to hex or punch him ,when the Gryffindor duo turned their backs on the Slytherin group and shouted ,facing the other way 'See you after dinner'

Hermione felt slightly wheezy and light-headed as she made her way to the school grounds after dinner. Draco, Blaise and Theo were practising on the Quidditch pitch and Pansy were watching them. Hermione had stayed behind ,in a bid to calm her nerves. She didn't even know why she was nervous. Maybe it was because she knew that the rest of her school year rode upon this duel. If she won, she would be loved more than ever from her house ,but if she lost, it would mean a year full of taunts and sneers from the Gryffindor's.

Trying not to let anyone else see her predicament, Hermione held her head high and carried on down to the patch of ground near the Quidditch field. Suddenly, a wave of nausea swept over her and Hermione took a few steps back as a familiar image flitted across her momentarily shut eyelids.

That didn't feel good.

Maybe she shouldn't go. She could postpone the duel. Say she didn't feel good. Hermione was just about to go do that ,when Harry Potter's face appeared in her head sneering at her. She couldn't let that happen. Pushing down any of her doubts, Hermione trudged the rest of the way.

When she got there, she noticed that Pansy, Blaise, Theo and Draco were already there ,waiting for her.

'You ready ,Herm?' Pansy asked. She'd taken a liking to the nickname her and Ginny had thought up together.

'I think so' Hermione nodded 'It's just a normal duel ,right?'

'Yeah, no unforgivables and no lasting damage hexes' a Ravenclaw prefect, Carine Beck, confirmed ,coming over to take Hermione into the duelling circle. 'I'm the referee'

Hermione nodded ,trying to remember all she'd read about wizard duels. She'd never been in an official one before ,she'd only battled spontaneously.

A crowd of students started to arrive around the duelling bubble that the umpire had placed around her an d Harry. Draco caught her eye and gave her a reassuring smile. Hermione smiled back before facing Harry full on. Ginny was also standing there now and was glaring at her brother ,who was pulling her towards the Gryffindor group of spectators.

'Ready ,Orion' Harry smirked 'To be smashed'

'As ready as you should be' Hermione shot back ,suppressing her laugh as confusion flitted across Potter's face.

'Wands at the ready' Carine called. They swished their wands up to their faces before bringing them down swiftly. They turned around sharply and took five steps each before turning back around and getting ready to duel.

'They are so in sync' Theo asked no one in particular 'Are you sure they haven't practised together before?'

'At the count of three, you may start' Carine continued '3...2...1'

Harry began ,shooting a disarming spell at Hermione who deflected it expertly and sent a jelly legs jinx his way ,forcing him to jump to the side.

'Levicorpus!' Harry shouted. Hermione dodged it.

'Obscuro!' Hermione cried. A black blindfold missed the boy by centimetres. A cry sounded from the Gryffindor's and one of the smaller first years actually burst into tears. As Harry looked towards the girl ,giving her a charming smile ,Hermione smirked and was about to perform a curse while his attention was elsewhere ,when a wave of nausea passed over her almost knocking her out. Staying in the present, Hermione fought to stay in control of her body.

'Tantallegra!' Harry shouted ,turning his attention back to the duel. Hermione deflected it ,sending it shooting back the other way to Harry ,who got the full blast and began to dance in circles. He still had his wand ,though and sent a tickling charm towards her. Hermione dodged it ,but it was a close call. A memory danced in front of her eyes and Hermione pushed it away forcefully. What was happening to her?

'Finite Incantatem!' Harry pointed his wand upon himself and uttered ,ceasing the movement of his legs. Darkness was beginning to descend upon Hermione now ,as she felt her consciousness slipping away.

'Incarcerous!' Hermione yelled. Harry tried to dodge it ,but it managed to bind his arms towards his sides. Hermione heard him curse ,but she couldn't see him anymore. As a last attempt of victory, Hermione pointed her wand at where she hoped Harry was and sent a feeble ,but satisfactory body-binding curse his way. Unable to get out of the way, Harry fell to the floor ,like a wooden plank ,just as Hermione let the pitch darkness take over her.

A blurred memory came into focus in front of Hermione's closed eyelids. It was one of her, Draco, Blaise, Theo and Pansy on one of her first days at Hogwarts. They were talking and laughing jovially ,only ,Hermione noticed, she didn't seem to be there and no one was laughing this time. In fact, they were whispering conspiratorially to each other. She could hear them ,but only just.

'He's such an annoying KNOW-IT-ALL' Theo moaned.

'Why did we even let him into our secluded group?' Blaise sneered. Were they talking about her?

'He leaves hair in the drain after every shower' Draco said ,curling his lip. She did not! Hermione fumed. 'Such bad company as well' A pang of pain shot through her heart at Draco's words. How could he say that?

'Must be so hairy' Pansy pinched the bridge of her nose in disgust.

'We'll have to be nice to him ,though' Blaise grumbled. 'Dumbledore's orders'

The quartet continued their conversation ,but Hermione couldn't hear them anymore. A cruel, high-pitched, familiar voice echoed around her skull.

'They do not like you, they do not want you' it cackled.

The memory blurred upon itself ,transforming into another. It was one from when Hermione had gone to ask Ginny about Draco ,she could recognise the classroom ,but in this memory, she seemed to have been frozen while Ginny spat in her face.

'I don't know why I offered to help you. You've always been a pain ,introducing me to your idiotic Slytherin friends. Theo isn't even nice. I only pretend ,so that you think I'm enjoying myself with them. You aren't even grateful. At least Harry appreciates me' She flicked her hair at that 'You come to me with every single problem you have and just expect me to solve them all. I'm not some kind of worry website!'

'Not even the Gryffindor girl appreciates you' the cackling voice echoed once more ,drowning Ginny's complains. The memory transformed to her parents. It was much quicker this time. They were standing nervously beside each other and Hermione remembered that this was the time that they told her that they were going to be moving house ,but the words that came out of their mouths were different.

'You're adopted ,sweetheart' her 'mother' said ,tentatively

'We took you from an orphanage when you were a baby' her 'father' added.

'They aren't your parents ,little girl' the high- voice echoed once more.

The memory shifted to Dumbledore. He was standing in his office.

'You have caused me great trouble ,girl' his voice was unlike his own ,harsh and sharp 'But it is all good. For the greater good. I have not told you ,so you would be safe. I am protecting you'

'He has no faith in you ,even though you protected France from the Dark Lord single-handedly. He does not trust you.' the voice resounded ,higher and more louder than before ,banging off the edges of her skull. Hermione saw four faces swim into her vision ,crouched precariously next to each other.

'Only we have faith in you; only we trust you; only we know your real parents; only we can be your real friends ,rival your intelligence; only we can show you what it is to be the great Hermione-'

A/N: Woah! What a cliffhanger! Sorry guys ,but it has to be done. What do you think will happen? Will Hermione realise who it is and what Dumbledore is hiding? Can you guess what Dumbledore is hiding and perhaps why is he hiding it? Tell me ,please. I would love to know whther I am on the right track. Please read and review! I am really enjoying this story and hope you are too.

Oh ,by the way, to those who have asked, no, I do not have a beta yet ,so if anyone has any offers, I am open.