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Chapter 1: Death and Punishment
She felt as free as a bird.
Hermione slammed the book shut. The plot had been so ridiculous, real life never went as smoothly as what life was described as in the book. A girl never walks in to a room and has almost every boy fawning over her apart from one and then by the end that one boy is with her, it just doesn’t happen. Well, it hadn’t happened to Hermione anyway.
She chucked the book into the corner of the room, she was angry at herself; she shouldn’t have read it in the first place; she only became annoyed by those types of books. The worst thing was that in them nothing bad ever happened. People didn’t break up; people never got really bad diseases or got hurt, nobody ever died. That’s what annoyed Hermione most, that nobody died, because she knew death was always close by, always just around the corner.
Romeo and Juliet, now that was a good book, they both died, and Hamlet, they all died in that too. That’s the sort of book that seems somewhat real. Hermione knew she shouldn’t get too caught up on death, if she did she’d break down, she’d experienced so much of death that it hurt to dwell on it. She’d cried herself to sleep several times because of death. Especially Ron’s death.
Ron had been at work when it had happened; he’d worked at the Ministry as an Auror. He hadn’t been murdered though as you’d expect with such a dangerous job, he’d merely been crossing the road. Ron was hit by a bus, dead before any of the healers from St. Mungo’s could reach him. That day was etched in Hermione’s mind like it was just yesterday.
She’d been pregnant at the time, with Hugo. Rose was just two years old. Hermione had been busying herself in the kitchen actually, making Rose’s lunch and making a cup of tea for herself, when the knock came at the door. She had thought it would be Ginny; she stopped by quite often with James and Albus, just for a chat, but it wasn’t. Hermione had pulled open the door, mug in hand, and had been confronted with two Ministry officials, looking quite solemn. Their words still rang in Hermione’s head occasionally.
“We’re incredibly sorry Mrs Weasley but there has been an accident involving your husband,” the first man had said, he’d had a grey moustache and a balding head from what Hermione could remember. It was more his deep resounding voice that stuck in her mind though.
“Is he okay?” she had asked, slight worry sparking within her.
“I’m afraid not, he was killed, I’m sorry to tell you Mrs Weasley but I’m afraid your husband is dead,” the second man had said. He’d been slightly shorter than his colleague.
The rest is history. Hermione had cried, cried for days and days in fact. She’d been so distraught that Harry had had to come and collect Rose and look after her for a while. He’d been devastated too of course. It was a wonder nothing had happened to the baby actually, Hermione had been so upset and stressed that he’d come a month early, but he’d been perfectly healthy. It hurt her even more to see he had Ron’s eyes.
That had been years ago though, five at the last count. Rose was now seven and although she did sometimes ask about Ron it was only occasionally. Hugo was five and had never known his Dad, that hurt Hermione a lot, but it was the way things were, she couldn’t change them. Hermione was still Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and she was doing well. At least, she was managing. Harry and Ginny helped out a lot and so did the rest of the Weasley family, especially Molly.
Hermione dragged herself off the couch. It had been another restless night. Every time she closed her eyes she saw Ron’s face, or a bloodied body from the Battle of Hogwarts, or the snake like features of Lord Voldemort. It happened often, so Hermione wasn’t too bothered by it.
Rose and Hugo would be up in about half an hour anyway and then she could drop them off at the Burrow and go to work. She made her way into the kitchen and flicked on the kettle. She pulled out her wand and flicked it in the direction of the bowls. One whizzed over to the counter and the cereal box began to pour her a portion. With another flick of her wand a teabag flew into a mug and the kettle poured the boiling water into it. Once it was done she grabbed a spoon, her cereal and the mug and went through to the living room. Upstairs she heard a small thump. Rose was up. Hermione quickly threw her breakfast down her and went up to get her children ready.
“Thanks Molly, I’ll be back at about sixish tonight to pick them up,” Hermione smiled. Molly nodded, waving her away with a grin on her face. Hugo and Rose trotted inside and Hermione apparated on the spot, arriving in her office at the Ministry. A piping hot coffee was already sitting on her desk; she sent a silent thank you to her assistant and sat herself down. Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
“Come in!” Hermione shouted from her chair.
The door flew open and a man was wrestled into the chair opposite Hermione, his hands binded together and his face swollen and cut. The officer gave a quick smile to Hermione and left without an explanation. Hermione turned her attention to the man across from her; she slowly sipped her coffee, looking for the man to speak first.
She knew who he was, his lanky frame and bright ginger hair gave it away almost instantly. George Weasley. He’d gone somewhat off the rails since Fred died in the battle. Molly and Arthur had tried to keep him on the right track but he’d just turned away from them and had resorted to living on the street and stealing from stalls in Diagon Alley, he must have done something much worse to end up in the Head of Magical Law Enforcement’s office though. Hermione waited patiently as George lifted his head and his eyes met hers.
“Look who it is!” George suddenly cackled like a mad man, “Hermione Granger, boy do I miss you, I haven’t seen you in what, three years? How’s Rose, and the other one, what is it, Juno?”
“Hugo actually. Do you mind telling me what you’ve done to wind up in my office George?” Hermione replied nonchalantly.
“Oh yeah, that, I stole from the Minister, pickpocketed him in the street, but you’ll let me off won’t you, we’re literally family after all!” George smiled, his battered face glowing red.
“I’m afraid not, it’s quite serious, stealing from the Minister,” Hermione said. George grinned.
He’d gone mad Hermione decided. Absolutely barking. There was no way this was a sane man sitting across from her. The way he tilted his head and twiddled his thumbs, speaking up randomly and grinning when there was no need, it all pointed to being completely insane there was no doubt.
“Go on then, give me my sentence Mrs Almighty, and spite me if you dare!” George barked, letting out a loud cackle. Hermione frowned. He belonged in St. Mungo’s, not Azkaban.
“I think I may need to speak to my subordinates about this but the usual punishment for stealing from such a high profile person is about a month,” Hermione said, curling her hands together and placing them firmly on the table in front of her. George leaned forward and mimicked Hermione’s actions. His hands were covered in white nasty scars Hermione noticed.
“In Azkaban?” George clarified. Hermione nodded.
“Alright, not too bad, take me away,” George smiled again. He intrigued Hermione, she’d never been good at reading people but George was acting so oddly that she couldn’t understand him whatsoever. An idea sparked in her head.
“Although there is one other thing, seeing as you are family…” Hermione trailed. George perked up; he seemed interested in what Hermione had to say.
“The thing is George, you seem somewhat, how can I put it, on edge-”
“You mean crazy?” George butted in.
“Yes, yes, you seem a little crazy, and so I could tell the court that I don’t believe you are mentally stable enough to be prosecuted as you weren’t in the right mind state when you stole from the Minister,” Hermione continued.
“That would be brilliant!” George roared, clapping his hands. Definitely cracked.
“There is one catch though,” Hermione said, raising her hand in a stopping motion, she didn’t want George to get too excited, “you have to stay with somebody, somebody responsible that will put you on the right track and help you out, and you aren’t allowed to do magic. If five months pass and you’re still not on the rails then you will be prosecuted, do you understand?”
“Yes, okay, I can do that, surviving without magic could be a challenge but I’ll manage, I’m the great George Weasley after all, who would I have to stay with?” George asked, his eyes glinting behind his beaten complexion.
“I’ll give you three options, I know three families that care about you and your welfare and live in this country, so I guess they are the only options, there’s Harry and Ginny, your parents, or, most regretfully, me,” Hermione said, dropping her eyebrows so her brow furrowed.
“Really? What about Bill and Charlie? Don’t tell me about Percy, I’d rather gouge out my own eyeballs than stay with him for five months!” George asked. Hermione noticed his right leg was bouncing up and down uncontrollably.
“Bill moved to France last year with Fleur. Charlie is still in Romania tending dragons. So they aren’t an option. I’ll need your decision now George, otherwise you’ll be put in Azkaban,” Hermione explained.
“I can’t face my parents, or Ginny, so I guess it will have to be you,” George sighed. Hermione nodded, glad it was settled.
“We’ll need to get you into work too,” Hermione said.
“How? There are no jobs available?” George frowned. He seemed to be getting agitated, like he just wanted to get out of the room, possibly dive out the door.
“I’ll get you a list of available jobs and you can take your pick, for now you can leave. I’ll meet you outside my house at 5pm, get my address from my assistant if you can’t remember it, this is your last chance,” Hermione smiled. George nodded and he jumped up with quite a lot of exaggeration. Then, without any hesitation, he bounded out the door and out of the office. Hermione groaned. She was going to have a maniac in her house for the next five months. Brilliant.