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Down the Rabbit Hole

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Disclaimer: I don't own the Potterverse or anything that you recognize. It all belongs to JKR. I only own the plot.

 

Down the Rabbit Hole

"Scorpius," Hermione said uncertainly. "I don't know about this. I don't know if I'm ready."

"It's just nerves," he soothed. "Besides, as much as I'd like to keep you locked in my room, you can't stay cooped up at the Manor forever."

"I know, I know," she said as she wrung her hands fretfully. "It's just, so much time has passed. It's been nineteen years since..." she trailed off and swallowed hard remembering the night once more that had changed the course of her whole life. She knew for a fact that if Voldemort hadn't encased her in the mirror that she wouldn't be here with Scorpius now.

"I know," Scorpius said quietly as he pulled her into his arms. "I know it's been a long time. But Harry and Ron are your friends. The years that have passed haven't changed that."

"I know that," she whispered as she sunk into the comfort of his arms. She wished that she could just stay there forever. After so many years of not having kind of human contact at all, she savored every moment that she got.

"Logically, I know that Harry and Ron would never hurt me. I just don't know if I'm ready for everything else. I'm not sure if I'm ready for the world to know that I'm back. There will be so many questions that I honestly don't know that I can answer."

"I'll be right beside you the whole way," he vowed as he pulled away slightly and smiled down at her. He rubbed his hands along her arms as he continued. "You know I won't let anything happen to you, right?"

She did know. Scorpius had been absolutely wonderful. He'd been both incredibly patient and understanding. Even Draco had been kind to her. After he got over the initial shock of seeing her standing in his study, he'd offered her a room at the manor until she felt like she was ready to re-enter society. It was far more than she'd expected from her childhood enemy.

He'd also given Scorpius his blessing when he'd announced his intentions, something that she thought that Draco would fight him tooth and nail on. She was a muggleborn after all. She thought that Draco would throw a tantrum and forbid Scorpius from marrying her. Any children that resulted from their union would be halfbloods, thus ending the purity of the Malfoy line.

Suffice to say, Draco was a whole different man compared to the boy that she remembered. When she asked him why, his answer wasn't what she expected.

"My Father denied me the one thing that would have made me happy. I'll not repeat the same mistake with my own son."

She had wondered what he meant and what that one thing was but she left it alone. Scorpius was important to her. He'd been her only constant through the years, her only source of comfort. She wanted the tentative peace that she'd struck with his Father to last.

She brought herself out of her thoughts and back to the present. "I know," she said softly as she reached up and traced his silky lips with her finger. "You've been my rock, Scorpius. Even when you were just a boy. You kept me anchored when I was sure that I was close to losing my sanity. You gave me hope."

He smiled and kissed her tenderly, sucking gently on first her upper and them her lower lip. Her legs turned to jelly as he slowly released her.

"Enough stalling," he teased. "Are you ready?"

She grimaced before she nodded. "Might as well get it over with. But the question should be, are you ready to jump down the rabbit hole? Because once we go, there's no going back. They'll have questions for you as well."

"I'm ready," he said as he dropped the green powder in the fireplace. "I've done nothing wrong and I've got nothing to hide."

Hermione smiled as she looked at the emerald ring on her finger. "You don't know Harry and Ron very well," she quipped. "They are like my brothers. And they can be very protective."

Scorpius gulped but led her into the green flames. "The Burrow," Hermione announced and they spun away from the Manor.

Hermione was besieged on all sides before she'd even fully left the fireplace. She froze as arms pulled her away from the only companion that she'd known for the last twenty years.

"Hermione!" Harry exclaimed as he wrapped her in a huge hug. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again!"

"Yeah," Ron exclaimed as he crushed her from the other side. "We thought that greasy git had lied to us. We thought maybe Voldemort had killed you and Snape was just saying that to save us some pain. We should have known better. It's not like he would care if we suffered."

"Guys," she said shakily, her breaths uneven.

"Now boys," Mrs. Weasley scolded. "Give her some room. She's been through quite an ordeal."

Both Harry and Ron looked remorseful as they stepped away from her. She felt Scorpius' reassuring presence behind her and she calmed even further when she felt his hand on the small of her back.

"Blimey, Hermione," Ron breathed as he looked at her properly. He squinted his eyes as if he didn't quite believe what he was seeing. "You haven't aged a day. You look just like you did... back then."

She nodded her head sadly. "Time didn't exist in that place Ron. It was neither here nor there. There was just darkness. The only source of light was the surface of the mirror. It was torture to look out and see somebody and know that they couldn't see me back. No one saw me. Until Scorpius."

Harry stepped up and stuck his hand out to Scorpius. "I'm forever indebted to you," he said earnestly as Scorpius shook his hand. "Hermione is the sister I never had and you did what I could not."

"There's nothing to repay," Scorpius said quickly. "Hermione was my first friend. She kept me company for years. She was my confidant. And soon, she'll be my wife."

"What?" Ron asked in disbelief. "Hermione, tell me he's not being serious. You're going to marry the ferret's spawn?"

"That ferret has a name. And Draco has been quite accommodating," she snapped. "He's not the same boy that we knew in school."

"But he's a Malfoy," Ron protested vehemently. "Lucius Malfoy's son, a death eater if you haven't forgotten. That family is no good. They're rotten to the core."

Hermione felt Scorpius stiffen behind her but he didn't say anything in his defense. He didn't have to.

"I haven't forgotten who he is Ronald," Hermione stated, her voice low. "And Draco was acquitted of all charges if I'm not mistaken. Besides, Scorpius has been nothing shy of extraordinary. He's opened his home and his heart to me. You have no idea what it was like for me. What I went through..."

She struggled with herself for a moment, willing herself not to cry. She'd hoped that this would be a happy reunion. It was not going at all like she imagined.

"I'm sorry, Hermione," Ron said sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I didn't mean to upset you. The news just shocked me. I thought... bloody hell, I don't know what I thought."

"Things aren't the same," she said sadly. "You guys grew up. You moved on. And why shouldn't you? I'm a remnant from the past."

"You're still our best friend," Harry assured her as he swooped in and embraced her again. "That will never change. I couldn't believe it when Draco floo called me and let me know what happened. I wanted to come immediately but he stopped me. He told me that you were far from ready for visitors."

"I wasn't," she said truthfully. "When I realized that I hadn't aged, I was shocked. It took me some time to come to terms with it. I knew that you guys had moved on and gotten on with your lives. Married and had children. I just didn't know where I fit anymore."

"You'll always be our friend," Harry whispered. "Whether your last name is Granger or Malfoy. It doesn't matter to us."

"He's right, Hermione," Ron added. "I am sorry about my reaction to the news of your engagement. But it doesn't change how I feel about you or affect our friendship."

"Thanks," she sniffed as she pulled away from Harry and stepped back to Scorpius' side. She took his hand in hers. "That really means a lot to me. I'm still so overwhelmed. So much has changed."

"You have no idea," Harry admitted. "Are you staying for dinner? We can try and catch you up. The ministry can wait. And Kingsley will wait. He said to take your time."

"Of course she's staying," Mrs. Weasley exclaimed as she bustled back into the room. "She needs a good home cooked meal to put some meat back on her bones. You too, dearie," she said as she pointed at Scorpius. "You are way too skinny."

"Well," Hermione said. "At least there's one thing that hasn't changed." She turned to her fiance. "I guess we're staying for dinner. There's one thing that you don't do in this house and that's to turn down a dinner invitation from Molly Weasley."

"Okay," Scorpius agreed uncertainly.

"Relax, man," Harry encouraged as he clapped Scorpius on the shoulder. "Molly's an outstanding cook. Besides, I look forward to how you got Hermione out of the mirror."

"There's not much to tell," Scorpius admitted. "I didn't know what I was doing when I did it. I just told her how I felt."

"And that was all," Harry pressed as they all took their seats in the living room.

"Yeah," Scorpius said. "I was very young when I first saw her. I was five before I managed to get into my Father's office unnoticed. My parents were always very vigilant when it came to that room. I think they were afraid that I'd accidentally break the mirror and Hermione would be lost forever. She scared me the first time I saw her. I thought she was a ghost."

"I felt like a ghost," Hermione admitted as she leaned into Scorpius. "It was so hard. After I saw the both of you in the mirror and I realized that you couldn't see me. It was crushing. I thought that I was dead. I thought I was doomed to spend an eternity alone. Then Scorpius came along. And he saw me. I knew that he couldn't hear me. But he gave me hope."

Harry looked at her sadly and Ron looked at floor guiltily. "If I'd known you were there," Harry said. "I would have tried harder..."

"No," Hermione said stubbornly. "Harry. James. Potter. Listen to me. There was nothing that you could have done. Not you. Not Ron. Not Draco. Voldemort told me after he tortured me to within an inch of my life that in order to break his curse, to even see me in the mirror a person who was pure of heart, unsullied by the darkness of the world had to love me unconditionally. That's why you never saw me. You had all been touched by darkness. Voldemort didn't believe in love. He believed that I would be in that prison forever."

"Bloody hell," Ron muttered. "So Scorpius..."

"I do," Scorpius answered evenly. "I've loved her for almost as long as I can remember. She''s been my constant companion and never far from my thoughts. All it took was for me to speak the words aloud."

He raised her hand that was still tightly clasped in his own and kissed it tenderly. Hermione could see that Harry and Ron understood fully now. Scorpius meant the world to her. And she meant just as much to him.

Molly Weasley interrupted the silence. "Dinner!" she exclaimed. "Come on, skinny. I've got a double serving plated up for you."

Hermione laughed and pulled Scorpius up from the couch. "Come on," she said. "I believe that she'll have you fattened up before you know it."

She followed Harry and Ron into the kitchen. They hadn't changed that much. It gave her hope for the future. And better yet, they seemed to accept Scorpius. It was a good thing too. He was there to stay. She wasn't willing to give him up. There was no her without him.

~~~Fin~~~