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In Her Absence by luvinpadfoot
Chapter 9: The Platform
Chapter Nine: The Platform
Harry scowled at an irate Ron. “I’m going back to Malfoy’s whether you like it or not. He knows something and there’s going to be new evidence there,” he insisted.
“Malfoy won’t even be there,” Ron complained. It was just after ten and he had to get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. The Hogwarts Express was leaving in less than an hour and it was his Rosie’s last year. He had to be there to send her off.
“Why not?” Harry asked. “He’s always at his Manor- or at the Ministry. The man practically lives as a shut in with no job.”
“He’s going to be at the Platform to send his son off to Hogwarts,” Ron said with an eye roll. “Where we should be. Where our kids and wives are.”
“Speak for yourself,” Harry growled. “If my kid was there I’d be there in an instant.” Ron cringed at his poor choice of words. He shouldn’t have mentioned children around him. Harry was obsessed with finding Lily and Ron was right by his side most of the time.
“I’m sorry mate, but don’t you want to see Al off? It’s his last year with Rosie and I know he’d love for you to be there,” Ron pleaded, but Harry shook his head. He knew his son would appreciate getting his sister back more than he would Harry waving at him as he rode away.
“When we find Lily I will personally retrieve him from Hogwarts and spend an entire week with the family,” Harry promised and Ron sighed. He loved his friend and he loved his niece more than anything in the world besides his own children, but he’d seen cases like these before.
Harry might not have noticed it yet, but the Aurors were already beginning to give up hope. If a missing child wasn’t found in a few days the chances they would be grew slimmer every day. Ron was a realist, even a pessimist sometimes. He still believed they could get her back, but Harry’s unwavering confidence was unnerving.
“I’m not asking you to stop, just say good bye to your son. He’s going away for months and you won’t see him again until Christmas. Come with me, just for an hour.” Harry ignored his best friend and opened Lily’s official case file.
Ron sighed. He didn’t know how Harry had managed to get his hands on the thing. He wasn’t supposed to have any access to the investigation at all, but of course he was Harry Potter. It was hard to keep anything from him.
Ron stayed by his side as the minutes ticked by, hoping Harry would change his mind. As the clock neared eleven he finally gave up. “I’m leaving,” he said, but Harry didn’t bother looking up. He was engrossed in the suspects list, Draco Malfoy’s name front and center.
“You say he’ll be there?” Harry asked and Ron nodded, checking his watch again. “Alright, I’ll be apparating behind you.”
Ron smiled at him. “You won’t regret it. Al will be thrilled to see you.” Harry nodded distractedly, but he wasn’t thinking about his son. He was thinking about how this might be the perfect time to confront Draco Malfoy and make him tell the truth.
Ron disapparated on the spot, eager to see his family again. Since Lily’s disappearance he’d been spending a disproportionate time at the Ministry with Harry. A crack behind him let him know Harry had apparated as well and he looked for his family through the mob of people.
He spotted them over by the train and smiled tightly. The occasion should have been a happy one, and would have been if not for the lack of one person. “Rosie, you look so grown up,” he said with a smile.
She grinned back and adjusted the Head Girl badge on her robes. Ron was glad that she’d gotten to be a Head, something neither he nor Hermione could do since they’d missed their last year of school. It made him the proudest father in the world.
He was equally pleased to see his own, even though Hugo hadn’t quite followed in his older sister’s footsteps. “Study hard for your OWLs,” Hermione reminded Hugo who nodded.
Ron realized he hadn’t spoken to Hugo even once since Lily’s disappearance and felt suddenly guilty. He knew his son and Lily had been close, not nearly as close as Al and Rose, but they’d grown up together nearly every minute of their lives. He doubted anyone had really talked to Hugo since everything had happened and that made him feel even worse.
“I’m only an owl away,” he said quietly so only Hugo could hear. “Anything you need just send me an owl and I’m on it.” Hugo nodded and the promise made Ron feel a bit better. It didn’t make up for ignoring his son in his time of need, but it was the most he could offer.
“Thanks,” Hugo replied just as quietly. Ron gave him a quick squeeze on the shoulder and turned his eyes up to meet Hermione’s gaze. She may not have heard what was said, but she clearly understood the sentiment as she smiled at him.
Al was standing off on his own and looked a bit surprised to see his father. “Dad, hey,” he said, gripping his trunk closer. He was afraid his father would somehow sense Lily’s broom hidden inside, although of course Harry did no such thing.
“Of course I came. Had to see you off for your last year.” Harry saw James glaring at him from beside Al and smiled at him tensely. “Good to see you as well.”
James turned around in a huff and pointedly struck up a conversation with Hugo who looked a bit taken aback to be thrust into the conflict so blatantly.
Harry nudged Ron. “So you see him anywhere?” He asked, searching through the crowd for Malfoy.
Ron frowned. “No, but I do see your children and a few reporters trying to get a clear shot of you here. Why don’t you wait them out?” Harry shook his head and scanned the crowd again. Malfoy was a very blond man, it shouldn’t have been too hard to spot his head in the sea of people.
“Got him,” Harry said as he locked in on the former Death Eater, his wife, and teenage son. Looking at him you’d never suspect he was capable of abducting a fifteen year old girl. He strode over to the man while Ron’s eyes widened.
He’d known Harry would confront him, but he didn’t think he’d do it now, before the train had even left. “You son of a bitch,” Harry hissed at him. When Draco turned in surprised Harry threw a fist into the center of his face.
There was a sickening sound of crunching bone and soft scream from Astoria before anyone interfered. James and Ron hurled themselves at Harry, pulling him away while Scorpius ran to his own father.
The reporters were taking photographs like crazy and Hermione covered her mouth in shock. “Dad!” James shouted in horror, his face turning beet red. “What the fuck is your problem?”
“He’s got her,” Harry said, pointing a shaky finger at Draco. “I know he’s got her hidden away somewhere!”
“He doesn’t!” James shouted. “Merlin, you’ve got to ruin everything, haven’t you? We can’t even pretend it’s a normal day, pretend for Al’s sake!” Al shrank back against Rose, not wanting any attention on him. He was horrified by the blood that was still streaming down Draco Malfoy’s face.
The Hogwarts Express blew its whistle, signaling only five minutes left before departure, and suddenly everyone in the station began moving again. It exploded with noise and Harry was pushed back to his own family. His knuckles were bloody and he was near certain he’d broken them on Malfoy’s face.
“What the bloody hell was that, Dad?” James asked. “You know what’s going to be all over the Prophet tomorrow? Your fist colliding with Draco Malfoy’s face. That was a fantastic way to send Al off.”
Hermione looked almost as incensed as James, but she held her tongue and turned to Rose, Hugo, and Al. “You need to get on the train, now. Can’t be late.” All three looked reluctant to board the Express, but they pulled their trunks on. Rose shot Al a sympathetic look and followed him away from the windows where they wouldn’t have to wave goodbye to their family.
When Al was out of sight James apparated away. He didn’t stick around for the train to leave as he wanted to get out of his father’s presence as quickly as possible. Harry heaved a huge sigh as he did so.
As the train pulled off, Hermione turned to Harry with a disgusted look on her face. “You’re a grown man! You can’t go around punching everyone you have a grudge with from Hogwarts!”
“He has her, I know he has her,” Harry said, his face violent with rage. “And that bastard’s going to get away with it.”
“There’s no evidence!” Hermione protested, then she seemed to realize that the people who hadn’t left were still watching them with interest. Her mouth drew into a tight line as she closed it and turned away from Harry and her husband. “I will see you at home,” she said, apparating away without another word.
As the crowd began to thin out Ron took his best mate by the arm and apparated with him back to his home. Hermione was waiting for them with a cold look on her face and Molly Weasley standing behind her. Ron ducked his head in shame when he saw his mother, hoping she didn’t know the whole story. Even though he was forty two she could still make him feel like a child.
“You two are unbelievable!” She said, keeping her voice low enough that it would not be heard upstairs where Ginny was. “What in Merlin’s name would possess you to physically attack Draco Malfoy?”
“He has Lily!” Harry shouted, not bothering to keep his volume down. “Or at the very least he knows who does.”
“And what evidence is there that even suggests this?” Hermione asked. When Harry was silent for a moment she sighed. “Exactly. It’s just your stupid prejudice against him for making bad decisions as a teenager. Yes, he was a Death Eater, but he’s changed.”
Harry opened his mouth to retort, but Ron placed a hand on his arm. “I think she’s got you on this one, mate.”
Harry jerked his arm away. “You were the one who suggested Malfoy in the first place!”
Ron turned beet red as his wife and mother turned to glare at him. “I meant it as a suggestion, raid his house, question his alibi, that sort of thing! Not attack him at the Platform in front of a gaggle of reporters.”
“And there wouldn’t have been something wrong with Harry hitting him if the reporters weren’t there?” Hermione asked scathingly.
“Er-” Ron said. He didn’t want to answer that truthfully because he knew she wouldn’t like the answer. “Yes?”
“Unbelievable! The both of you!” Hermione turned on her heel and stalked off. Ron wanted to go after her, but his mother was glaring at him with a steely gaze.
“You should feel very ashamed of yourself,” Molly Weasley said to her son when Harry left as well. “Haven’t the poor children all been through enough? And Ginny? They don’t need you on the front page of the Prophet fighting with Draco Malfoy.”
“Harry was the one who hit him,” Ron protested sullenly. “I pulled him off.”
“His daughter is missing! He’s sick with grief over her! You need to be there for him and help him to do the right thing. Not incite him into fights and breaking the law.” Ron cringed and Molly nodded. “Yes, Hermione told me about that. You’re lucky I don’t go to the Ministry with that.”
“The Minister already knows, Mum. Why do you think he chewed out Harry and ordered him off the investigation?” Molly Weasley pursed her lips and said nothing else. She was disappointed in her son’s behavior, but she was still too upset over her granddaughter’s disappearance. A tear trickled down her cheek.
“Oh Mum,” he said a little softer. “We’re all upset over Lily.”
Molly shook her head and wiped the tear away forcefully. “I’m fine. Ginny needs me. It’s just-” She shook her head. “You’ve got enough on your plate without me adding to it. Just help Harry all you can, okay?”
Ron nodded as his mother walked off. At least she wasn’t angry with him like Hermione and Harry were. She was right though. He needed to keep Harry under control all he could, to save his career as well as his family.
A/N: Here you go my lovelies! I think this is my favorite chapter of the ones I've posted so far. How do you like it? Comments, criticisms, and suggestions are always welcome!
A note on the warnings. I have changed one to Strong Violence for later chapters. It's nothing too graphic, but I wanted to give you lot a heads up about that.
Also, I have a question about my updates. I've been posting every Monday, but I do have a lot of prewritten chapters so would you like to see me post faster? Or on different days? Let me know because I'm willing to change it, just got to know what you guys prefer!