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Chapter 10: Godric's Hollow
Godricís Hollow. The place had seen so much. It had seen the cruelty of the human race and the greed of those too powerful to control. But it had also witnessed the endless love within its halls, enough of it to know that no matter what happens there is still hope.
As Ron stood studying the house for the first time, he felt a shudder run down his spine. He felt sorry for all of the suffering that had transpired behind its closed doors. He couldnít help but remember all the lost dreams that had been crushed by its foundation. He found it ironically fitting in how Harry fell in the same house his parents had. Ron sighed and turned away from the house, something about the memory of it churned a feeling in his stomach; a feeling he had locked away years ago. Ginny had been there that night; he had never felt so thankful in his life when he read in the news that she had made it out alive. Though as much as he wanted to go see her, he stayed away hiding under the pretext that he was dead. They had already had the illusion that they had all three of the trio; he wasnít going to let them know otherwise.
He started the trek up the winding path to Harryís final resting spot. The rain that had made its presence known during the past week had momentarily stopped its stormy rage, but with one glance overhead it could be seen that it was far from being finished. Stepping over a rather large puddle, he let his soggy sneaker squish onto the grass following.
He had yet to reveal himself to the wizarding world. He felt like he should pay his last respects to his best mate first and until now he didnít have to nerve to. Harry had saved his life more than a few times and where was Ron when Harry needed him most? Probably in some pub drowning away his sorrows, pretending that his problems were the worst. But seeing these graves rising up from the ground he knew that his own indulgences had been completely out of a selfish nature. Although he had convinced himself that every step he took was for her, he couldnít stop this nagging feeling that he had been doing it for himself all along. That he had been running away from something, though he wasnít even sure what that thing was.
Laying his clammy hand on one of the slick stones, Ron looked around at the unfamiliar names surrounding him. Even through the unfamiliarity, he knew he had one thing in common, they were people just like him. Witches and wizards that through time only made a small impact on the world before they were lost beneath the surface. Only in his case, he got a second chance.
Feeling his feet move without his consent, a few minutes later he found himself standing before his best mateís grave. It was a simple grey stone, nothing too extravagant as he knew Harry would have preferred.
"Hey mate," Ron said after a few moments of silence. "Guess your kind of ashamed of how one of your fellow Gryffindorís turned out, eh? I ran off like a dog with its tail between his legs. Real courageous I have to admit." Ron ran a hand through his hair and pondered what was supposed to be said at a grave, if anything at all. It wasnít as if they could hear him or anything, right? Somehow he had envisioned that by coming here it would remove this huge weight that had fallen over his heart. But as he stood standing over his grave, he still felt nothing at all.
"Well, I guess-" Ron cut himself off in mid-sentence. Vaguely, he heard a crackling sound behind him as if someone was trying to sneak up on him, undetected. Standing absolutely still Ron listened closely for the sound to return. He had the feeling that whoever it was, they werenít of ill intent or, at least they werenít going to kill him without him knowing about it first.
After a few minutes of silence he heard it again, the sound was coming from behind him a little to the left. The quiet shuffle told him that it was someone who was smaller in structure. Quickly he whipped around with his wand held high, his eyes glazed over his surroundings. He had enough experience to know that it didnít matter the size of the opponent, but how they used a wand.
Then there they were, standing a few feet away, their own wand raised against him. But his eyes werenít watching that. The face that belonged to the intruder was the last one heíd expected to see that day.
Fred stood behind the cashier counter, it was his least favourite job but Verity had to take the day off and he couldnít rightly let the kids get away without paying. Though at the moment the shop was fairly quiet, it was past lunch hour and most would be outside taking advantage of the weather. For once a downpour didnít accompany the dreary clouds that hung outside.
It had been a week since he had run in with Ron and he still wasnít feeling much better. It still seemed odd that one moment he didnít have a brother and the next his brother was there. Dropping his head into his hands, he wished for a strong drink to calm his nerves.
"Excuse me mister, but whatís this?" A small kid with a shock of red hair asked curiously. Fred smiled at the kid, he was like a tiny George and Fred mixed into one. The boy was holding onto a small purple vial, usually boys older then him enjoyed the product more, but there was no harm in explaining it.
"Well you see, what you have in your hand there is a very fine and exquisite product," Fred started out dramatically. "Probably one of the best there is. All you do is accidentally spill some of the liquid into your friendís drink-"
"Why would I spill it into my friendís drink? Theyíre my friends," Fred had to smile at the kidís comment.
"Well then, how about a teacherís drink,"
"I donít go to school mister."
"Or maybe someone you donít like?" Fred asked with a raised eyebrow. The youngster laughed with delight. "You spill it into their drink, but the important thing is, you donít let them know what youíve just done or theyíll know whatís going on."
"Then what happens?" The boy asked excitedly while clapping his hands together in excitement.
"Then-" Fred paused for dramatics; the boy leaned forward in anticipation. "Then when your victim takes even one sip of his drink the next person he sees, he will fall in love with for a short time and they will follow their love around constantly." Fred had to smile at the boyís disgusted look. It reminded him of Hermioneís when they were producing it back at Hogwarts, she tried telling them that it was almost like a love potion and that was illegal. He remembered trying to explain to her that it was only for a short amount of time and it wasnít as if they wanted to be in love with that person anyway. Plus watching them spurting out love poems and tripping over their own feet in front of their love would be worth going to Azkaban for.
"Is that it? I donít want to make people fall in love and all that hullabaloo, thatís disgusting!"
"Well there is this other thing, if you promise you wonít tell your mum you didnít get it from here," Fred winked at the kid and moved around the counter to a small display called ĎGhouls and foul smelling objects.í Picking up a blue package from the display, he showed it to the boy. "You see this one here? Put one pill into the victimís drink and viola he has an instant problem. Warts and open boils will appear all over his body and they will start emitting a very foul smell." The boyís eyes brightened at the description.
"Thatís brilliant!" The boy grabbed a couple packages and headed to the till.
"Oi, there you are young man! I turn my back on you for one moment and you disappear! What did I tell you about leaving mummy without telling her first!" A young woman lectured the boy as she burst into the store. At first Fred was amused by the boyís Ďcaught in the headlightí look, but he was shocked to see that he recognized the woman.
"Now Morag, you donít need to send some kid in here just to talk to me you know. Youíre welcome any time you wish; we have a back room-" Morag gave Fred an exasperated look.
"Heís not just some kid Fred, heís mine. And Iím sorry about it, he can be a bother. I donít know where he got it from, I was never like that and his father was a complete bore."
"He obviously wasnít too boring, he snagged you didnít he?" Fred said with a wink.
"Maybe if you had seen him, you would have understood," Morag whispered under her breath while her boy was waiting at the till. Fred chuckled. "Howíd you expect to pay for that young man?" Morag turned her attention back to the boy.
"You of course mummy!" He answered as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Morag rolled her eyes and pulled out her purse. Fred made his way over to the till, his head still reeling that she had a kid.
"Thatís one galleon and three knuts, ten percent off because youíre lucky," Fred winked at the boy.
"Cheers Fred, I guess Iíll see you later, are you coming by the Hospital later?" Fred paused for a moment. He had avoided going for a whole week. "Sheís getting a little better I think. Though a lot of progress needs to be done yet, I think Luna was saying that she was figuring it out in her head anyhow."
"She was my guiding light", Ronís admission ran through his ears. Was he moving in on his brotherís girl?
"Mum, letís go, I want some ice cream!"
"Alright come on Chase, see you later tonight then?" Morag said though she didnít wait for an answer and she quickly left with the troublesome boy trailing behind her.
"Who the hell are you?" Ron could hardly recognize the sound of his sisterís voice. There was harshness to her tone that had not been present before. It scared him that such an innocent girl had changed so much. "Who are you? Spit it out Iím not afraid to use this thing." Ron almost laughed at the irony of the situation. What were the chances of having two of his family members threaten his life within a week?
"Hey Ginny," Ron said. He could tell that his familiarity of his voice startled her. "Donít you recognize your own brother?"
"Heís dead, so you better try harder then that. Iím giving you a chance buddy, though your kind hardly deserves it. I just donít make it a habit of killing people with their backs turned." For the first time Ron seen the woman she had changed into. The harshness of the war had also taken its toll on her.
"Ginny, itís me. I was never dead. In Frimley I faked my own death in order to get away from all this." Ron explained as he lowered his wand to his side. His action took her by surprise and she shifted her own feet, but didnít lower the wand.
"Bullshit," Ginny ground out. "Thatís what any Death Eater would say."
"Then why would I put down my wand? Bloody hell Ginny, go ask Fred, Iíve already had this conversation with him!" For a moment, Ginny looked like she didnít know whether to believe him or not. The odds were too high against him; he knew it would take a miracle for her to lower her wand.
"Iím sorry," she said. Ron could tell that she partly wanted to believe him, but the consequences of that belief could be to high if he was lying. "Petrificus Totalus!"
Fred leaned against the doorframe of his bedroom; inside, lay sprawled on his bed, were notes to the morph potion. George had come over after work and the two of them had thrown some ideas on the table to get the product working properly. He had left just a few minutes ago, saying he had to go babysit Chase. Fred had himself a good laugh from thinking of George with the kid. George wasnít too fond of little kids, said they were annoying because they pulled his hair too hard.
He had said he would look over the potion some more, but at the moment he felt like doing anything but that. They always worked better together anyway. Finally making up his mind he went into his room and pulled on one of his mumís knitted sweaters. For some reason he loved them the most because they were so comfortable. Quickly he checked the time before he apparated out of his flat.
Appearing in front of what looked like a rundown toyshop Fred stepped up to it and talked into the dummy. Before he knew it he was admitted into the large Hospital. Walking through the large white reception he came to the waiting desk and not to his surprise Morag sat behind the desk chewing on some bubblegum.
"I dare say you have a lot of guts in entrusting your little tyke to my brother dearest." Fred said leaning over the counter. Morag looked up and flashed Fred a smile.
"Do I now? George said heíd be delighted to share his evening with Chase,"
"Iíd bet heíd say anything in order to acquire a little gift in doing such a good deed," Fred winked at Morag suggestively. Morag blushed.
"Fred Weasley you are far too forward," Fred chuckled at her embarrassment. "Besides itís hardly any of your business what goes on behind closed doors." Fred shrugged and started walking down the hall to the elevator whistling a little tune to himself.
The door was closed. Fred looked into the little window and saw her perched on her bed watching the telly. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and the white sweat pants and t-shirt somehow made her look very endearing to him. Opening the door with a quick tap he announced his entrance.
"Enjoying your confinement I see," Fred joked. Missy narrowed her eyes at him.
"Tremendously so, how could you tell?" Fred laughed; he could tell she was feeling better today.
"I dunno, maybe it was the way your head was rested on the palm of your hand so heavily that if another one of those challenged commercials came on, your head would roll right off." Missy quirked a wide grin. "Or maybe it was the way you kept glancing out the window as if you wished for something more exciting to happen. Well your miracle has happened." Missy raised her eyebrow.
"What miracle has happened? So far nothing too great is occurring to me."
"Well, me of course!" Fred said making wild gestures to himself. "Surely you havenít overlooked such a strong and handsome man like myself have you?" Fred fell down on one knee, grabbed onto one of her hands and looked up at her imploringly. Giving her his biggest and most convincing puppy dogface.
"All right, all right! I give up!" Missy surrendered. Fred smiled brightly and made a space on the bed beside her. "You look much too pleased with yourself."
"Itís not everyday a lovely lady, like yourself, lays down her arms," Fred said chuckling. Missy rolled her eyes. Fred opened his mouth to continue but she motioned him to be quiet.
"Shh, itís starting!" Missyís attention was quickly drawn back to the telly. Fred remained quiet at watched the show with her. But after a few minutes he poked her in the side.
"Whatís this show called?" Missy gave him an irritated look.
"Seinfeld," she answered hastily.
"Whatís going on, I donít get it?" Fred questioned further.
"Just watch, youíre a big boy youíll be able to figure it out." Fred stuck out his tongue at her. Missy pretended that she didnít see that.
"Ha, I kind of like that guy with the messed up hair," Fred said later in the show. Missy smiled.
"Thatís Kramer, he kind of reminds me of you," Fred made a childish face over at Missy, telling her how much he thought of that observation. "Well he does!"
"Iím much too sophisticated and classy to be compared to the likes of him," Fred whined.
"You just said you liked him," Missy pointed out.
"I would never say such a thing about another man!" Fred sputtered out as if he was very affronted at her remark.
"Youíre exhausting, you know that?" Fred gave her a smug grin and tugged gently on her ponytail. Swatting his hand away Missy gave him a pointed frown before turning back to the sitcom.
"Yeah? Well youíre just too clever!" Fred said with fervour, his eyes going wider as if he had just discovered this point. Missy pursed her lips tightly together and ignored the wearisome boy.
After the show was over Fred leaned down and rested his head on Missyís shoulder. "Wanna go for a walk?" He asked. "Get out of this little cage?"
"Canít, unless I have a hospital personnel along." Fred snorted.
"Who said we couldnít break the rules?" Fred suggested roguishly. Missy frowned. Fred could almost see the gears turning in her head; he almost had to laugh at how she had to mull over sneaking out. Missy started shaking her head when Fred reached up and grasped her chin to stop her shaking it. She immediately stopped her eyes going wide at his gentle touch. Fred removed his head from her shoulder and slowly shuffled around so he was facing her. Instead of the teasing glint that frequently shone across Fredís face, a different emotion had replaced it. His calloused thumb caressed her jaw line tenderly, his eyes boring earnestly into her own. A shiver ran through Missy before she jerked away.
Fred shook his head as if trying to get something out of his head. Shooting off the bed his hand immediately ran through his shaggy mane.
"Oh, erm- so how about that walk?" Fred asked, trying to release the tension in the room. Missy gazed up at him; her bottom lip trembled as she looked at him. Fred didnít understand the way she was looking at him. Even though her eyes were on him, it was like she was seeing someone else. "Missy?" Fred said, his voice staying low. She didnít respond, but she stopped looking at him. Her eyes closed and a soft whimper escaped her mouth. "Hermione?" Fredís voice was soft and cautious. Her face whipped up to meet his eyes. The look in her eye told him what he needed to know.
Taking a slow step forward, he tried reading her eyes. He wasnít used to seeing the distrust that resided there. "Missy, Iím not-" Fred couldnít even say it, couldnít imagine the hurt she had gone through. "Iím not going to hurt you." Her mouth opened and closed, as if she wanted to say something but the words would come out. "I-I" Fred stuttered over his words, what could he say? He loved her? Yeah, that would go over well. With her and Ron both. "I couldnít." He opted in saying instead.
"I know." Even though she told him she knew, he could still hear the fear in her voice.
"Címon, letís go," said Fred. He held out his hand letting her make the decision if she wanted to come along. She looked at his hand for a moment, and then at the man himself. Fred watched as conflicting emotions swayed her decision. Hearing her take a deep breath, he felt her warm skin press against his own. Smiling brightly down at her he curled his fingers in to intertwine with hers.
Seeing the fear slowly evaporate from her face, he felt a pang of guilt of being here with her. Quickly he pushed the feeling away and led her to the door. Opening up the door he stuck his head out. Seeing the empty hallway he pulled Missy through.
"Oh," Missy moaned worriedly. Fred smiled reassuringly down at her.
"Donít worry about a thing, youíre with the sneakiest and most cunning prankster around, the moment someone catches me is the moment the world ends," Fred reassured her.
"Well then, should I be saying my prayers?" Fred let out a bark like laugh at her comment.
"Something like that," Fred said, still smiling. "Right, so the door is about halfway down this hall. There is nothing to hide behind from here to there, except that cleaning trolley and thatís after the door. So weíre just going to have to book it okay?" Fred whispered to her. Missy looked around her the hall was still silent.
"Why donít we just walk casually so we donít draw attention to ourselves," Missy suggested. Fred thought about it.
"Well, itís not nearly as exciting, but itíll do," Quietly the couple walked down the hallway and luckily met up with no one. "This is the next challenge we must overcome Miss. Gran-" Fred caught himself; he wasnít supposed to let her name slip. "Our next mission is to know if there is someone beyond this door or not. And if there is someone there, then we have to know what to do." Missy laughed quietly."What do you suggest since you seem to be so clever?"
"We could open the door, and if someone is there, we run?"
"I like it. Itís quick and to the point, and I donít have to remember all that much. Iím not very good and remembering things-" Missy clamped her hand over Fredís mouth.
"Shh, someone is coming," she hissed at him. Fred quickly pushed her behind cleaning trolley before the door opened. Fred smiled innocently and tipped his head.
"Good evening Madam," he said grinning. A Healer gave him an odd look.
"Evening," the woman said.
"Just on my way out, lovely meeting you." The woman nodded and turned around and headed down the hall at a brisk pace. Fred waited until she disappeared around a corner before he brought Missy out from behind the trolley.
"Good with the running away I see," Missy whispered. Fred grinned and pushed his ear against the door.
"Dang it, I canít hear anything!" Fred said. Missy giggled.
"Maybe thatís because there isnít anyone there?" Missy suggested.
"Or maybe this door is impermeable to noise!" Fred said hysterically. "What if there is a gaggle of Healers waiting just beyond this barrier ready to take us in?" Missy rolled her eyes and pulled the door open and walked into an empty stairwell.
"Wow, that was almost too much for me to handle," Fred stuck his tongue out and Missy and tromped in after her, grumbling like a little kid.
On the way down they passed a few other witches and wizards on their way to visit their own loved ones, but no Healer or Medi-witch came into their path.
"Okay, the hardest part," Fred whispered as the stopped in front of a door which read main floor. "Reception area. This place is crawling with the enemy." Missy looked at him with worry.
"I donít think we should be doing this, are we actually going out? I thought we were just taking a walk around the Hospital?"
"Where would the fun in that be? Youíve already seen these halls, they look all the same." Fred pointed out. "Okay so hereís what weíre going to do, weíre just going to walk out there and hope no one notices us." Missy gave him a look that clearly said the plan wasnít going to work. "Címon, we have to stay optimistic! Ready, letís go." Fred pushed the door open confidently and the two of them strolled into the reception area, their hands intertwined.
At first things went all right, the reception area was so busy no one noticed the copper head or the girl wearing the white hospital clothing. Fred thought that luck must on their side because as he looked ahead, the door was so close he could almost taste the freedom.
"Excuse me! Where do you think youíre going?" A shrill voice rang out silencing the noises that accompanied the waiting roomís usual hustle and bustle. Fred turned to see a stern woman that reminded him vaguely of McGonagall storm toward him with some security wizards behind her. Missyís eyes went as wide as saucepans.
"Oh dear," she whispered. "Weíre done for." Fred smiled.
"Not yet, run!" He screamed out and quickly he dashed towards the door, pulling Missy behind him.
"Stop them!" The woman yelled. Fred dodged some of the people trying to grasp onto them. Pushing the door open with his body Missy and Fred crashed out of St. Mungoís. Missy screamed as they fell forwards. Fred quickly stood up and he continued running.
"Oh!" Missy yelped, half in the excitement of escaping and half out of fear of what would happen if they were caught. "Weíre going to be in so much trouble!"
"Rubbish! Weíre only in trouble if weíre caught." Missy gave him a hard look, but he didnít see it as he was setting the pace of their escape.
"They already know you have me!" Fred grinned devilishly at her.
"Well then, since they already know, we might as well have all the fun we can." Running down the many streets of London, Fred finally stopped to catch his breath. Missy stood beside him, her sides heaving.
"Where to?" She asked after they had a few minutes to calm down from the adrenaline rush.
"The worldís our playground," Fred said spreading his arms out wide.
"How about a real playground?" Missy asked with an arched eyebrow.
"Thought youíd say that, címon I think I know where one is." For a few minutes they walked in comfortable silence. As they walked, Fred was surprised to see how normal it felt to have her by his side and having no one give them a second glance. It felt good. Almost like that this is how it should be.
Ronís face clouded into his head then. Fred tried pushing it away stubbornly; he didnít want to think about that right now. Scrapping his shoes against the wet cobblestone streets angrily, Missy looked up at him, startled. But he ignored her unasked question and continued on down the street.
"I donít think weíre going to find one," Missy said after a while of walking aimlessly about. Fred looked up; he hadnít really been paying attention to where they were going. He probably missed the turn off. Feeling guilty that he wasnít paying Missy his full attention, he sighed. What Ron had told him was still ringing clear in his ears, and every moment he spent with Missy, the worse he felt about it.
"Guess not," Fred said. "Apparently I donít know directions all that well either."
"Yeah, basically youíre just a failure at life now," Fred looked at her and laughed. Her comebacks never ceased to amuse him.
"Well, itís already real late, I probably should release my captive because they send the hounds after me."
"The hounds?" Missy asked, unfamiliar with the context.
"Itís when- oh never mind. I should get you back though. Before they really do something drastic to get you back." Missy nodded. It would probably be for whatís best.
Missy looked up at Fred and though the darkness covered most of his features she noticed a distinct frown on his face. Reaching up she touched the side of his face. He blinked rapidly and his eyes focused on hers. Fred watched as her eyes searched his own. He felt like an open book to her, all she had to do was look and everything he was feeling would be laid bare for her to see.
Apparently she found what she was looking for because she smiled and retracted her hand from his face. Fred felt his head move involuntarily towards the warmth of her hand again. She smiled more warmly.
"Youíre a good man Fred Weasley, you know that?"
"I try and hide that under my rough, manly exterior, donít tell anyone you know otherwise," he whispered back, his voice thick with emotion. Standing on her tiptoes she reached both hands up to bring down his face before giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. Fred leaned back a goofy smile playing on his lips. Though it was only a kiss on the cheek, it was a start.
Before he could stop it a face flashed through his mind. Ron, it was the last thing he wanted to remember at this time. But the more he tried pushing him away, the more dominant the thought became. Swearing under he breath he took a step back from Missy. He couldnít let this happen again, no matter how much he wanted it.
Ron technically loved her first, and once she fit the remaining pieces of the puzzle together there was one question that entered his head. What would she remember? He didnít want to make it any harder then it already was.
"We better go," Fred said rather hastily. Missy gave him a confused look, but he refused to meet her in the eye. Turning back aground he started going back briskly. Missy jogged to catch up with his walk.
Before they knew it, they had already reached the store that took them to St. Mungoís. He stopped in front of it, only a little surprised that there wasnít people here waiting for them.
"Well I think Iím just going to stay here, who knows what they would do if I came in again. Is that okay?" Missy nodded and quickly she headed back into the St. Mungoís the way the Order had shown her when they admitted her without saying goodbye to Fred.
Fred watched her go with a gloomy look upon his face. This was the last time, he vowed, he would visit her. Turning after she disappeared, he apparated back to his flat.
Swearing to himself he pushed open the door. He always ended up apparating into the broom closet; it was starting to drive him mad. He didnít even own a broom. Stepping out of the closet his eyes were taken aback by the darkness that surrounded him. Hadnít he left the kitchen light on? Shrugging his shoulders, he had probably just forgot to leave it on. Fred ambled from the closet, but before he got very far he stumbled over something blocking his path.
"Errg!" Fred moaned and rolled off the huge object in his way. "Bloody hell," he looked down at what he tripped over. "Ron?"