"Hello, Hermione, I see you are looking well," Harry said as he and Blaise walked in. "Shall we get started?"
"Woof", she replied with a tail-wag, glad to see Harry and hoping to be herself again soon.
Blaise pulled out the leather case and opened it. Harry looked at it curiously, seeing that it was a carrying case for potions vials, with eleven of the twelve spots filled. Blaise picked one out and held it up to the light, admiring the clear yellow colour. "This is the one that will cause the animal transformation," he told Harry. "We have one for each of your guests."
Hermione looked at the three Death Eaters and gave a soft growl low in her throat.
Harry gave her a look. "Okay, well I guess I should introduce the test subjects... I really don't know their names... but we've given them nice nicknames... there's Snizzy over there, as you can guess why," he gestured to the particularly offended-looking prisoner. "That's Smelly, he has some weird odor coming off his clothes. And over there is Glump, because he looks like a big lump. Which one do you want first?" he asked Blaise.
"Glump is better known as Millicent Bulstrode's eldest brother, Thomas," Blaise said. "I never cared for him in the least. Let's start with him."
Hermione threw her head in the air, sniffing something, and took off out of the room with a sharp bark.
"Tesoro, where are you going?" Blaise called after her.
She dashed back into the room and started pulling at first Blaise's, then Harry's clothing. Given no choice, they followed her to the front door of the abandoned house and spied the party of Death Eaters waiting for them.
Harry got his wand out in preparation. "I see that we have company. Lucky they've gathered at the wrong house." Hermione gave a very soft woof of agreement. "What do you say we do, Blaise?" Harry asked.
"Neutralize, disarm, interrogate, and whatever else may come to mind," Blaise said casually. "Adligare!" he said, casting a binding spell at the five Death Eaters' hands, and added a larger binding spell to tie them all together. "Constringo!"
Harry sprayed them with a sleeping potion he kept for such occasions and took their wands. "This will do the job for right now, I'll call my men in the clean up the mess."
"Have them find out how they knew we were going to be here, too," Blaise said, wondering if Ginny was more of a threat than he'd thought.
Hermione dashed off again, running low to the ground. Blaise and Harry looked at each other as they heard a woman scream behind them, accompanied by the sound of tearing cloth. The growls and feminine cries continued, with a disturbing fleshy gnawing sound accompanying it.
They turned, wondering who she was chewing on, and saw her dragging an apparently unconscious form toward them, black robe clenched in her teeth. Harry looked down at the limp form.
"Well, look who we have here," he said. "It's our dear friend Cameron."
"Cameron?" Blaise asked, trying not to laugh out loud. "I thought for sure it was a girl, what with those high-pitched squeals and screams. Hrmm, your friend, Cameron, is more than he appears, it seems."
"Woof!" Hermione agreed, tail wagging furiously. She looked very proud of herself.
"Beautiful work, " Blaise said to Hermione. Her tail wagged even harder.
"Good girl--" Harry said, then corrected himself, "I mean, Hermione, nice job. I knew that for a while now. He's been following me wherever I go. Though, how do we make him talk?"
Hermione looked up at Harry then down at Cameron with a wolfish grin.
"Let's worry about that after we test our potions," Blaise suggested, leading the way back into the house. Harry took a moment to call his back-up to take care of the sleeping and unconscious Death Eaters outside, then followed them back inside.
"Okay, time to experiment." Harry was all business as he dragged "Glump" to a chair. "We've given them sedatives that makes it almost impossible for them to move on their own," he told Blaise.
"You've thought of everything, I see," Blaise said, carefully pouring the potion down Bulstrode's throat.
"Yes, I've tried to. . . " Harry let that statement trail off as he looked at the animal Bulstrode had become.
"I always suspected him of having a lot in common with a gorilla," Blaise said, picking up another potion and moving to his next test subject.
"Gorillas are too smart to be Death Eaters," Harry said, "well, smarter than him for sure."
Hermione made a chuffing noise that sounded like a wolfy laugh as the second one turned into a ferret. She grabbed the futilely squirming thing by the scruff of its neck and trotted over to Harry with it.
"A donkey!" Blaise exclaimed after he'd given the last potion. "What interesting inner lives these fellows lead."
"What is the reversal potion intended to do to them?" Harry asked.
"Hopefully return at least one, if not all, to their human form, or as close as they were before, anyway," Blaise said, setting the three empty potions vials to the side, and pulling two more out of his case, both a clear ocean blue in colour.
Hermione wagged her tail in anticipation when she saw him holding the blue potions.
Blaise handed one of them to Harry, who tilted the vial into the immobile gorilla's mouth. They watched in dismay as, instead of transforming back into Thomas Bulstrode, the gorilla went into convulsions and became very still, falling sideways off the chair.
Hermione's ears drooped and she sat down on her haunches, looking at Blaise and his potions case, still holding the ferret by its scruff.
Blaise deliberately dropped the other blue potion vial to the floor, watching distractedly as it broke and soaked into the plank flooring.
"Still two more to try," Harry said in a falsely cheerful voice, disturbed by the morose looks on his companion's faces.
Blaise pulled out two more potions, peridot green coloured. He handed one to Harry and held the other loosely in his fist. Hermione held her head up, offering the ferret to Harry. He took it from her and poured the green potion down it throat, then placed it on the chair recently abandoned by the now-dead Bulstrode/Gorilla.
The ferret transformed back into his pinch-faced human form, but almost immediately began drooling and babbling, tearing at his own hair.
"We've just got Longbottom back on the mend, there's no need to create a raving replacement for him just yet," Blaise said calmly, then suddenly threw the vial in his hand hard against the far wall, where it shattered. He took a deep breath and let in out in a sigh, forcing a smile at Hermione. He looked at the four potions left in the case, first touching a buttery yellow coloured one for a second then one that was a violent purple colour for a bit longer, before he pulled out two vials that contained a tomato red mixture. He passed one to Harry and bit his lower lip as he watched for its effect on the last transformed Death Eater.
Hermione hunched her shoulders tensely and pressed against Blaise's leg. He touched the top her head comfortingly.
They all visibly relaxed as the donkey changed back into his previous human form and immediately began screaming obscenities at them.
"At least he's raving sanely," Harry remarked, forcing a vial of sleeping potion down his throat and watching him collapse to the floor.
Blaise cleared his throat nervously and looked at the last reversal potion in his hand. "Well, tesoro, it looks as though Draco may have come through for us." He held up the vial in his hand. "Ready?"
She gave him a quite subdued "wuf".
He sat on the floor beside her and carefully tilted the vial so she could drink the potion.
Harry watched in horror and fascination as the wolf slowly changed into Hermione. "It's working," he said, relieved. "But it's happening so slowly."
Blaise wiped a drop of sweat from his temple. "It will probably take longer for her, she's been a wolf for some time now."
Harry nodded, trying to think of something to say that would comfort the obviously distressed Blaise. "You'll have her back, we will all have her back."
Blaise nodded, never taking his eyes off Hermione. As her transformation stopped, he realized she looked just a bit older than when the attack had happened, and that she was even more beautiful than he remembered her being. She whimpered slightly, wincing in pain and breathing heavily. He gathered her nude, porcelain-pale body into his arms and cradled her tenderly, to overcome to speak.
"Hermione. . ." Harry couldn't breathe properly. He shrugged off his trench coat and draped it around her.
"Oh," she said in a raspy voice, "that hurt."
"Ora li ho, il mio amore. Nonli lasci mai vanno," Blaise said, covering her face with kisses. "Thank you for everything, Harry. You can break the other two vials now. i won't require them after all."
Puzzled, Harry did as Blaise asked.
"Yes, Harry," Hermione said, "thank you for all your help. And the coat," she smiled up at him.
"I brought some warm clothes for you, tesoro," Blaise told her. "I'll get them in a moment."
"No problem," Harry said, looking at the happy couple. "I, uh--, I should go and check on the other Death Eaters. You two get reaquainted. I have a portkey to take you back to the Hole when you're ready."
Blaise pulled a bag out of his pocket and enlarged it. "Proper warm clothes for you," he said, giving Hermione the bag and pressing his face against her tangled mahogany coloured curls.
"Thank you, love," she said. "Hold on, Harry, and you can have your coat back. It's too cold for you to go without."
She slipped into the next room to change, coming back wearing the warm clothes Blaise had bought for her on their shopping trip, trying to finger comb the snarls out of her hair. She handed Harry his coat with a smile of thanks, then hugged him tightly.
Harry hugged her back, a gentle smile on his face. "I was honored to help. You two talk... I'll see you later Hermione, there's so much to say. I've signaled my men. They will be here soon, we'll take care of the rest of the clean-up."
"Do have fun playing with Cameron," she said, an almost Slytherin smile gracing her delicate features.
"And check his back, near the shoulder. You should find an interesting mark there," Blaise added.
"I think I will," Harry said, "though it should be more interesting when he wakes up and tries to explain himself."
"Just one more thing," Blaise said to Hermione, pulling a small box out his pocket. "I have something else to give you, and to ask you. I had a wonderful speech all prepared, but I've completely forgot it now. I just. . . I love you, Hermione, with all my heart, and I want to ask you what I should have asked a long time ago. Will you marry me?"
Hermione blinked and looked at Blaise in surprise. "Marry you?"
"I had this made while we were still in Spain, and I kept waiting for. . . I don't know what I was waiting for. I'll understand if you don't want to, but nothing would make me happier." He looked at her expectantly.
She walked closer and looked him in the eye a few seconds, then smiled and kissed him soundly. "Yes, beloved. I'd like nothing better."
"Well," Harry said, looking at the embracing lovers with a shy smile, "Congratulations Hermione, and Blaise, you finally have the girl you want... just remember what we talked about."
"Talked about?" Hermione asked curiously.
"I have to go now, the men are here," Harry said, holding out the portkey.
"Good idea," Blaise said, taking the portkey, "someone still smells like a wet dog."
"Hey!" hermione exclaimed, thumping him on his shoulder with her tiny fist.
"Don't worry about me hurting her, Harry, worry about her beating me up before the night's over," Blaise said with a laugh, rubbing at his shoulder.
"I think you'll both have a few sore spots in the morning," Harry said.
Hermione gave him a playful growl.
"Hermione," Harry laughed, " you need to get out of the wolf instinct."
She stuck her tongue out at both of them.
" Let's go back, tesoro, Harry has work to do, and I have your favourite lavender soap waiting for you.
"Lavender?" Hermione asked in an interested voice. "Well, perhaps I'll forgive you for saying I smell like a wet dog."
"I'll see you all tomorrow," Harry said, waving goodbye.
"Looking forward to it," Blaise told him.
"Bye, Harry!" Hermione said, waving back, then turning to Blaise. "Lavender huh... well if you are a good boy I might even let you help me wash my back."
"Yes, lavender soap and shampoo, too," Blaise confirmed. "And a new brush and comb." He smirked at her and gave her another kiss. " At least you won't need the flea dip now."
"Oh, honestly," Hermione said. "You know, you are just asking to sleep in the dog house tonight."
He gave her his most pleading expression, "But I'd rather sleep with you. Sleep being just a figure of speech, of course," he added in a wicked tone.
"We'll discuss it after you wash my back," Hermione said, and activated the portkey to take them home.
OOC:// End of scene.