Return to Me (Chapter 11: Awakenings)

The figure just stood there looking at her for a moment. She blinked to clear her eyes and watched the woman break out into a smile.

“Glad to see you have awakened. I’m Dr. Amanda Rafferty. We’ve been monitoring you for about two days now since you took the counter curse potion.” The woman pulled her clipboard against her chest and moved towards the door. “I’ll go get Mr. Weasley, but I daresay you’ll want to wake Mr. Potter yourself.” She smiled and shut the door behind her.

She turned to see a head of black hair resting on the bedside next to her. One of her hands was clutched in his; she reached her other hand across to touch the silky black locks gently. She leaned over and smelled his hair; it had always been the same, a combination of soap and a faint woodsy scent. Her hand left his hair and gently stroked the side of his face. At her touch, gentle as it was, he awoke with a start and raised his head to look into her eyes.

They stared at each other for what seemed to be an eternity. Harry’s mouth opened to talk several times but nothing came out.

Harry knew. He knew by the look in her eyes who she was. “Hermione.” He said simply.

She smiled through the tears that had suddenly sprung to her eyes. “Harry…” she said softly, bringing her hand back to his face. Hermione never got a chance to finish her sentence before Harry had pulled her into a bone-crushing hug.

“Don’t even think of trying to pull away…” Harry said, pressing his face into her hair. “I’m never letting you go again.”

“I don’t care.” Her own voice was muffled. “Harry…I’ve missed you so much.” He pulled back and just looked at her for long moments, wanting to memorize every detail of her face that he possibly could. He took his thumb and brushed away the tears that were streaming down her cheeks, and leaned in to kiss her, but Ron pounded his way into the room.

“DID IT WORK?” he shouted. He saw the tears on both their faces and his heart sank for a moment.

“Ron!” Hermione cried happily. Ron whooped and flew to the bedside, where the trio had a most wonderful reunion.

It was a few hours later when the three of them emerged from the Ministry, Hermione had freshened herself up and was anxious to leave the building and get away from the stuffy room. She was also looking forward to getting reacquainted with life as herself. Hermione lifted her face up to the sun as they stepped outside, she remembered all of her life as Catherine, but she felt as if she, Hermione, had awoken from a long sleep. Harry turned to her and smiled.

“How are you feeling, love?” he asked, taking her hand in his.

“I feel wonderful.” She said, her eyes closed. Hermione leaned against him and rested her head on his shoulder. Harry turned and kissed her temple and she opened her eyes and smiled at him.

“What do you want to do?” Ron asked the two of them.

“Well, I should probably go to my flat and see Grace,” Hermione replied. “Ron, bring Lavender over later I want to see her.”

“Yes ma’am.” Ron said, mock saluting her. He hugged her again. “I’m really glad you’re back Herm. I’ve missed you.”

Hermione smiled back and hugged him tightly. “Me too Ron, me too.” She wiped away a stray tear. He squeezed her arm and shook Harry’s hand.

“I’ll be over in a bit then, I’ll just pop home and tell Lav the good news.” He apparated away and Harry turned to Hermione again.

“Let’s get you home.” He said, taking her hand. The two of them also apparated back to their building and arrived in the lobby.

“Do you want me to come with you or do you want to see Grace alone?” Harry asked.

Hermione thought for a moment. “I should probably see her alone.” She said. “Can I just come over when I’m done?”

Harry chuckled. “Of course. You’d better.”

“All right.” Hermione said. “I’ll be up in a bit then.” She kissed him on the cheek and then went up to her flat. Letting herself in quietly, she went down the hallway to the kitchen where Grace was sitting at the table, reading the Daily Prophet.

“Grace.” Hermione said, trying not to startle her. Grace’s head snapped up and she gasped.

“Cath!” she jumped from her chair and ran forward to hug her tightly.

“Actually, it’s Hermione.” She corrected gently. Grace pulled back.

“So you remember? Everything?” Grace asked.

Hermione nodded. “Everything.” A smile crossed her features. She sat down at the kitchen table and Grace followed suit. “I want to thank you again for being my friend all these years. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here now.”

“Oh, that’s not true.” Grace said, looking down. Her face reddened. “I mean, I only took you to the hospital.”

“Yeah, and you talked to me, you cared for me, gave me a place to live and helped me live these past nine years.” Hermione insisted. “And if it weren’t for your pushing, I would never have gotten that job at the bookstore, and therefore probably never met Harry again.”

“Really?” Grace asked in a tiny voice.

“Yes, really.” Hermione insisted.

“Thanks Cath- I mean Hermione.” Grace said ruefully. “Sorry, it’s going to take me awhile to get used to that.”

“It’s okay.” Hermione said. She hugged Grace tightly.

“I’m afraid I won’t get to see you anymore now.” Grace said. “I mean, you’ll be off with Harry and your old friends now.”

“Well of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join us.” Hermione said warmly.

“Okay.” Grace said tentatively. “I made up with Justin.” She smiled.

“Did you really.” Hermione said, sitting back. “I didn’t know you two were fighting, I was so surprised when you brought…. him…. over.” her lip slightly curled up at the mere thought of Draco Malfoy.

“Well, we had a disagreement, he wanted to get more serious, and I didn’t…but I think I’m willing to give it a go.” Grace said.

“That’s great.” Hermione said. The two women sat together for a while and reacquainted themselves to a degree. About a half hour later Hermione stretched her arms over her head and stood up. “I need to get to Harry’s.” she said.

“Ahhh…” Grace said with a knowing look in her eye. “What are you two going to be up to this evening?”

“Not THAT!” Hermione shot a glare in her flat mate’s direction.

“Sure.” Grace said. “Go, get to know your husband again.”

“My husband…. I like that.” Hermione grinned. “My husband, husband…” she rolled the word around on her tongue as she knocked on Harry’s door.

Harry smiled as he saw Hermione muttering to herself when he peeked through the spy hole.

“Husband…husband…” he heard as he pulled the door open. She looked up at grinned at him.

“What about your husband?” he asked, pulling her inside. His arms curved around her waist and he pulled her up against him.

“You are.” Hermione said. She lifted her face to his so he could press his lips onto hers, which he did willingly. One of his hands locked with hers and the other caressed the side of her face. She parted her lips under his so she could feel his tongue enter her mouth and clash with hers. She remembered kissing him as Catherine, but this felt so new and fresh to her now, and she didn’t want it to end. She swept her free hand up into his raven locks, loving the feel of the soft strands between her fingers.

Harry wanted to take things further but he also didn’t want to push Hermione. He regretfully pulled his mouth from hers and led her into the living room.

“We should talk a bit, love.” He said, pulling her down onto the sofa next to him and wrapping his arms about her.

“What about?” Hermione asked. She did not want to talk.

Harry turned to look at her. “Well, for one thing, we need to go talk to Caty.”

“Oh, I can’t wait for that.” Hermione said. She felt twittering butterflies in her stomach. “I’m nervous though.”

“It’s all right.” Harry reassured her. “She likes you, I know she does.”

“Really?” Hermione asked. Harry got up and went into the kitchen for a moment, then came back with Caty’s letter.

“She’s really nice, and I think she’d make a good Mum for me…” Harry quoted from the note. Hermione felt a smile cross her face.

“When do we go see her?”

“Well, I will send a note to Dumbledore,” Harry said. “And then hopefully we can go to Hogwarts tomorrow, I don’t want to pull her from school.”

“What’s she like?” Hermione asked as he settled back down next to her.

“Well you already know she has both of us in her looks wise, she’s always been a smart kid, and sometimes a bit of a handful, and other times rather shy.” Harry laughed. “I remember one time when I let her go to the library herself for the first time, she took her little red wagon and checked out so many books she could barely pull it home. Then when one of the neighborhood kids came over to see if she’d let them borrow one, she said no because it would be breaking the rules…I never laughed so hard in my life.” He smiled fondly at the memory and Hermione was laughing heartily.

“Oh, that sounds like me when I was 11, doesn’t it…” her voice trailed off as she realized what she had said. “I can actually remember what my life was like at 11 now…I don’t think I’ll ever take that for granted again.” Hermione said softly.

Harry reached over and stroked her hair. “I don’t think so either…” he said. “I’m surprised you aren’t exhausted from all the emotional strain you’ve gone through today.”

“Well, I think that’s because a lot of my memories must have returned while I was sleeping.” Hermione said in her typical logical fashion.

“Did you ever look up anything, to try and find out who you were?” Harry asked.

Hermione sighed. “We tried. Grace and I spent entire afternoons at the newspaper offices, looking through records for missing persons, we never found anything.”

Harry bit his lower lip. “That’s my fault.” He muttered, bowing his head.

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked, a bit confused.

“Well, when you disappeared, Ron wanted to put out a notice about you. But I convinced him not to, just that we’d search for you until we found you. I didn’t want the unneeded attention….” Harry trailed off realizing how stupid his explanation must sound. “I didn’t want Caitlyn growing up constantly being badgered either, and when we couldn’t find you after a year….” Harry let his voice go as a tear slid down his cheek.

Hermione reached out her hand and touched the side of his face. “Harry, think about this. Draco Malfoy took me off a street, no one saw that happen. Then he kept me away from all civilization, for what was that year you searched for me. If you had placed a notice, there would have been pandemonium and you wouldn’t have gotten a moment’s rest.”

Harry finally turned to look at her. “You really think so?”

“I understand, Harry, I really do.” Hermione stroked his cheek with her palm.

“You’re awfully forgiving aren’t you.” He turned a tiny smile her way.

“I’m just happy.” She said, snuggling up against him. “How can I not be?”

A knocking came from the front door and they pulled themselves off of the couch and they went down the hallway. Harry opened the door and a blond figure hurtled through, followed by Ron who was shaking his head ruefully.

“HERMIONE!” Lavender shrieked, propelling herself at Hermione and wrapping her in a bear hug. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s you, that it’s been you all along!”

Harry and Ron laughed at the expression on Hermione’s face as the force of Lavender’s hug staggered her backwards.

“What took you so long to get over here?” Harry joked.

“This one here, she didn’t believe me at first when I told her the potion worked.” Ron said, jerking his head in Lavender’s direction.

“Well…” Lavender spoke up in her own defense, “Ron kept telling me there was no change, and I thought he was just being a smartass this time….” Everyone laughed again and Harry spoke up.

“How about some tea?” he asked. He took up Hermione’s hand and they all went into the kitchen.

“What are you guys going to do now?” Ron asked, as they all were sitting down and Harry magicked four mugs filled with tea to the table.

“Well, I have to send a note to Dumbledore, we’re going to Hogwarts to see Caitlyn.” Harry said.

“How are you feeling about that?” Lavender asked Hermione.

“I’m nervous about that, still.” She said, sipping her tea. “I mean, I know Harry said she likes me, but she’s only had him for ten years, I’ve just suddenly come back into her life.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll work everything out.” Lavender said confidently. “I mean, what little girl doesn’t want a mother?”

“She’s right.” Ron said. Harry nodded as well.

“You’re going to be fine.” He assured her. Yet Hermione was still nervous, three days later when they were once again standing before Hogwarts.

“What a rush.” Harry said, looking down at her. “I feel as if I’ve never left, you know?”

“Tell me about it.” Hermione agreed, closing her eyes and taking a few deep breaths. She squeezed Harry’s hand so tightly and he opened the doors. Professor McGonagall was waiting in the hallway to escort them to Dumbledore’s office. As they drew close Harry could swear he actually saw tears in her eyes at the sight of them.

“Hello, Professor McGonagall.” Harry said as they approached.

“It’s good to see you two again.” She smiled one of her rare smiles. “Professor Dumbledore is waiting to see you in his office.”

“Thanks, Professor.” Hermione said. They followed her up many staircases and down many passageways until they reached the hallway going to his office.

“The password is Glomping Gillyweed.” She told them. “I’ll leave you two here while I get your daughter.” She smiled again and marched back down the corridor. Harry and Hermione entered Dumbledore’s office.

“Mr. and Mrs. Potter.” Dumbledore greeted them as they stepped inside. They both grinned at each other.

“It’s wonderful to see you again Professor Dumbledore.” Hermione said. Harry stepped forward and shook his hand.

“Thanks for letting us come here to see Caitlyn.” He said. “I didn’t want to have to pull her away from school so soon, but with the circumstances, I wanted her to see her mother again as soon as possible.”

“Of course.” Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling. “I’m sure Professor McGonagall will have her here in just a few moments.” He turned to Hermione. “And how have you been feeling my dear?” he asked kindly.

“I’m doing well, thank you.” She replied. “My memories all returned to me while I was out from the potion, so it hasn’t been troubling me at all.”

Footsteps outside made her stop talking and turn to the door expectantly.

“…I swear, Professor, it wasn’t me who set off the dungbombs in the common room it was Blue’s cousins…” Caitlyn was saying nervously as McGonagall opened the door and they stepped inside. Her eyes scanned the room and came to rest on Harry and Hermione.

“Dad!” she cried happily and flung herself into his arms. Harry hugged his daughter tightly.

“Caty Cat, I missed you.” He said. He pulled her back at arms length. “I want you to meet someone.” Harry turned Caitlyn around to face Hermione, who looked like she was about to face a firing squad.

“Dad I already know who that is.” Caitlyn said. Harry chuckled.

“Well, not technically.” He brought both of his hands up and placed them on her shoulders. “Caty, this is your mother, Hermione.”

“Hi, Caitlyn.” Hermione said gently. None of them noticed Dumbledore and McGonagall leave the office. Hermione got up from her chair and kneeled down before her daughter. “Can I…hug you?” she asked tentatively.

Caitlyn looked at her for a long moment and then nodded. Hermione gratefully wrapped her arms around her and pulled her tightly against her.

“Mum…” Caitlyn whispered as she threw her own arms around Hermione’s neck. Tears ran out of her eyes when she heard her daughter acknowledge her.

“Hey let’s make this a family affair.” Harry said, and got down next to them and pulled them into his own embrace. They stayed like that for quite sometime.

“So how come you thought you were someone else?” Caitlyn finally asked later as they were seated at The Three Broomsticks, having something to eat.

“Well…” Hermione looked at Harry for support.

“There was a very horrible person who cursed your mum,” Harry said as gently as he could. “He’s now in prison, and he wont’ ever get out again.”

Caitlyn nodded resolutely. “Good.” She sent a shy smile at her mother, who had hardly been able to take her eyes off her all afternoon. “Are you coming to live with us?” she asked.

Hermione smiled. “I should think so.” She replied, looking once again at Harry.

“Absolutely.” He said.

Later that evening, they dropped Caitlyn back off at Hogwarts and then went down to the train station to apparate back home (They still could not apparate on Hogwarts ground). They entered the lobby of the building, and Harry walked Hermione to her door, as she was still staying with Grace for the time being.

“Goodnight Harry.” She said, raising herself to kiss him. “What time are you coming over in the morning?”

“Stay with me tonight.” Harry said, ignoring her question.

Hermione’s eyes widened. “Harry…”

“I want to wake up next to you tomorrow morning. I promise, we don’t have to do anything…” He interrupted her, pleading with his eyes.

She thought for a moment and nodded. “All right.” She agreed.


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