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19 Years by marauder5
Chapter 25: Year 3: Viola
Fall had entered London once again; this year, however, Harry and Ron would not get to see as much of it as they were used to. Gawain Robards had lived up to his promise of letting the two of them out in the field, and they both enjoyed it immensely. In fact, when Ron walked into his and Harry's office one Monday morning in the middle of September, he stopped in the doorway and looked around as the thought hit him: when was the last time had been in there? It was probably over a week ago.
While Ron examined each little object on his desk, including his quills and ink, with such enthusiasm that one could have been looking at his father in the middle of a Muggle shop, Harry leaned back in his chair by the opposite wall, stared out the window and thought of Ginny.
Since her reaching out to him, things had slowly begun to go back to normal between the two of them. There had been long nights of discussing their issues and ways of moving past them until Harry had finally had enough, taken her hand said:
"Let's just start over. We'll forget all about last year, and I'll take you out on a date. The rest will come when it comes, don't you think?"
And they had gone to a nice Muggle restaurant and shared a lovely dinner (which, as Ginny pointed out, probably wasn't appropriate for a professional athlete, but she made an exception that once) and talked about happy things: Harry told her of all the funny things Teddy would do and say, Ginny spoke of her teammates and how wonderful it was to finally get to play Quidditch for real, and once they had finished eating, they strolled around London, arm in arm, under the starlit sky. They walked all the way back to Harry's flat, upon which Ginny began saying goodbye, but Harry interrupted her.
"Why don't you stay?" he said. "You have no training tomorrow, do you?"
"Are you sure?" Ginny asked.
And he was. He knew that no one would have blamed him if he had been a little angrier, if he had punished her for not believing in him to start with, but he really didn't see the point. He knew that he was going to forgive her eventually anyway, and besides, this was what he had wished for all along: to get her back. All that mattered, really, was that she had realized her mistake, and that she had come back to him after all that time.
They had gone up to his flat that night, crawled into bed and held each other. Harry had been only seconds from falling asleep when Ginny had made a movement next to him. He had opened his eyes again and quickly realized that she was sitting up. The moonlight falling across her face also gave away the fact that she was staring nervously at him, as if she was debating whether or not she was going to act out whatever thought had just crossed her mind.
“Harry,” she had said, her voice shaking slightly. “I should have told you this already… I just couldn’t.”
If Harry had been half asleep before, he certainly wasn’t after those words had left her mouth. “What are you talking about?”
“Oliver,” Ginny said. “And what happened between him and me. We… I slept with him. Oh, God, I’m so sorry, Harry! I know that it makes me a horrible person, and you probably hate me and want me gone again… which is why I haven’t been able to bring myself to telling you.”
It hurt. Harry couldn’t pretend that it didn’t; how could he have ignored the stinging in his chest, so painful that he had to place his hands over it in an attempt to smother it? There was something sharp in there, hitting his every soft surface with such power that he wanted to scream, because it was true. Those terrible images that had kept popping up in his head after finding out that Ginny was dating Oliver – they weren’t just products of his imagination; they had actually happened.
“I can’t believe that you didn’t tell me before,” he said. Then, without looking at her, he added: “I can’t believe that you would do that, either.”
“I know,” she said desperately. “I know that I shouldn’t have…”
She leaned forwards, as if to wrap her arms around him, but he moved away from her. “And I’m supposed to just be okay with that?” he asked. “To just ignore that all this time, you were the one who slept with someone else? You were the one who ruined everything we had, and I took the blame all these months!”
“I know,” Ginny repeated quietly. “And I don’t expect you to be okay with it, I-“
Now, Harry crawled out of the bed and stood up. “Is that how little I meant to you?”
“Of course not! You’re not leaving, are you? Because if I remember correctly, that was exactly how things ended last time!”
Ginny’s voice had suddenly become higher, and streaks of panic slipped through her external calm. Her mind was most likely in the same place that Harry’s went to in that moment: an early winter’s afternoon in the Burrow, when they had first broken up. Harry sat back down.
“No, I’m not leaving,” he said. “I’ll listen this time.”
Ginny crawled over to his side so that she sat next to him. “I really thought you didn’t love me,” she said. “That my only option was to move on, to do everything I could to push away every feeling I had for you. And so I turned to Oliver. That’s all that it was; as much as I tried, I never really felt anything for him.”
When Harry didn’t respond to this, she grabbed his hand, which just lay there on his lap, and she squeezed it while letting out a muffled sob.
“Does this… does this change everything for you?” she wanted to know. “Does it mean that you regret getting back together?”
“You should have told me straight away,” Harry said. “But no, it doesn’t mean that I regret it. It just means that it’s going to be a lot harder.”
Now, Ginny leaned his head against his shoulder. Using the hand that wasn’t holding Harry’s, she wiped a few tears off of her cheeks and took a deep breath. “So what do we do now?”
“I suppose we just go to sleep,” Harry said. “And then we’ll take it from there.”
Before getting into bed again, Ginny placed a kiss on his cheek and whispered: “I love you,” and none of them acknowledged the fact that he hadn’t said it back to her since their reconciliation.
Blinking and rubbing his eyes as if he had just been woken up from a slumber, Harry looked around and nearly fell off his chair when he realized that Hestia Jones had come into the office and was now standing just a few feet away from him. How had he not heard the door open or both her and Ron calling to get his attention? Shrugging, he turned towards the middle-aged woman with a smile on his face. Hestia, however, didn't seem to be in the mood for returning it, as she simply nodded at him and began talking:
"There's been an attack," she said, "in Diagon Alley, and a girl went missing. Someone just began sending hexes in every direction, one of the shops was set on fire... don't worry," she added quickly when she saw Ron's facial expression, "it wasn't your brother's. Both he and your sister-in-law are fine; they were the ones who reported it, actually. I want the two of you to go with me there. Gather your things and meet me in my office in ten minutes.”
“I should probably bring my invisibility cloak,” Harry mumbled. “What else do we need?”
“I have to go tell Hermione,” Ron said. “I’ll be right back!”
He ran through the long corridor that led to the lifts, and then he got into one and went up to Hermione’s floor. Hurrying past the many offices in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, he nodded at a few of his girlfriend’s colleagues before stopping outside her office. The door had been left ajar, and the sound of voices slipped out of the small opening.
“I can’t believe she said that!” Hermione was just saying. “What did you tell her?”
“You know, that her good side was about as existing as hers and my mother’s friendship!”
Upon realizing that the other person in there was Draco Malfoy, Ron’s jaw dropped to the floor. Of course, he had already known that Malfoy had started working in the department, but that certainly didn’t explain what he was doing in Hermione’s office! Furthermore, it definitely did not explain why both he and Hermione had just burst into laughter. The two of them, laughing together! It made absolutely no sense.
“You’re really different, aren’t you?” Hermione then asked. “I mean, I found it hard to believe…”
“I know, Hermione,” Malfoy said. “But I really am.”
Hermione? As far as Ron could remember, he had always referred to her as ‘Mudblood,’ or, on a good day, simply ‘Granger’. And now they were acting like a couple of old friends? Determinedly, Ron pushed the door wide open and stepped into the room.
Hermione sounded surprised. She was sitting at her desk, and Malfoy was standing in front of her, leaning over one of the visitors’ chairs that stood across from hers. Both their heads had turned quickly to the door when Ron had come in, and they were now staring at him. Hermione smiled while Malfoy cleared his throat.
“Weasley,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
“I should ask you that,” Ron replied.
So maybe Hermione’s boss was stupid enough to hire a bloody Death Eater, but wasn’t Hermione supposed to be the cleverest young witch in England? Then what was she doing alone in a room with the same git who had been raised to hate everything she was, who had actually fought on Voldemort’s side in the war? Ron had accepted the fact that it wasn’t Malfoy who had poisoned her, but to him, it might as well have been.
“I work here,” said Malfoy. “Last I heard, you worked at the Auror Office, though. Shouldn’t you be down there doing your job? As I recall, you Weasleys always had to cling hard to your pay checks.”
“Draco!” said Hermione in shock. “I think that Ron has every right to visit his girlfriend’s office; it doesn’t mean that he’s not doing his job. And Ronald, Draco and I are working together on an institution of general terms of employment for house-elves.”
“Well, I came here to tell you that we’re going away on a mission,” he said.
“Oh, really?” Hermione’s facial expression was a mixture of happiness and worry – she was happy for him, because she knew how much he had wanted this, but she was always scared that he’d put himself in a dangerous position. “What happened?”
“An attack in Diagon Alley,” Ron explained. “A girl is missing… George and Angelina are okay, though.”
“In Diagon Alley?” Malfoy asked. “In broad daylight? I wonder who’d do that…”
“Shouldn’t you know?” said Ron snidely. “It’s probably one of your Death Eater friends-“
“I don’t have any of those,” said Malfoy brusquely. “It was my father who did.”
When Ron opened his mouth to retort, Hermione quickly intervened by saying:
“Ron, if you’re going to be rude, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Good luck on your mission. Promise me that you’ll be careful.”
“Yeah. Good luck,” Malfoy said.
Ron snorted. What was he really up to? It seemed like he was playing a part to fool Hermione into trusting him. And what’s worse was that he seemed to be successful. Shaking his head, Ron decided that he had no time to worry about it right now, so instead, he smiled at Hermione and walked over to the door.
“Promise me!” Hermione called after him. “I love you.”
In the doorway, Ron turned his head to look at her again. “I love you too.”
Not even in the last days of August, right before school would start again, was Diagon Alley as crowded as it was this day. Harry followed Hestia through the densely packed streets, thankful that she was the one who did the dirty work (which meant elbowing her way through the crowd – one woman began yelling some not so pleasant words at them after her son nearly fell over to make room for them, but she stopped abruptly when Ron turned around to apologize). Then, suddenly, they had reached Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and there was room to breathe again, to walk normally… George met them right inside the door.
“Angelina is in the back,” he said, “with the family of the little girl who disappeared.”
Hestia glanced over his shoulder before turning to the boys. “I’ll go and talk to them,” she said. “I want the two of you to try to find out what happened.”
“Can you tell us anything?” Ron said, turning towards his brother.
“I don’t know much,” George answered with a shrug. “Only that some man just started casting spells all around… a few people have been shipped off to St. Mungo’s. And then there was that little girl. Apparently, her mother turned her eyes away for a couple of seconds, and then she was gone. They have no idea what happened to her.”
“Do you think he was a Death Eater?” Harry asked. “That man, I mean.”
“I don’t know,” George said. “There was definitely some dark magic – you should have seen the damage it did to a few unfortunate people. But not every bad guy is a Death Eater, right?”
Before anyone could say another word, Hestia came rushing out from the back of the store, shooting Harry and Ron an irritated look each while crossing her arms over her chest. “Didn’t I tell you two to go out and find out what happened?”
Sighing, she headed back out into the crowd. Ron and Harry exchanged a look, said goodbye to George and followed her.
An older lady, dressed in a strange ensemble of Muggle clothing – a pyjamas shirt, a pair of shorts and a fringed jerkin – was just telling her male companion:
“It was a blond man. In his thirties, I think. He was staring at that poor child for minutes before he began his attack. I noticed, because I thought it was strange.”
“I thought you said you never saw the girl!” answered her friend.
Hestia cast a glance over her shoulder and realised that Harry and Ron had fallen behind. She stopped to give them a chance to catch up with her, and then she reached out something towards them. Harry took it from her hand. It was a photograph of a girl, who couldn’t have been older than five, or maybe six, with blonde, curly hair and a nearly toothless smile, as she had lost both of her front teeth. She appeared to skip around in some sort of silly dance.
“Ask around,” Hestia told them. “See if anyone saw her. I’m going to get in touch with a friend at the Ministry and see if they can track her down – she’s got the Trace on her, after all.”
Ron nodded and turned to Harry. “It’s sick, isn’t it? I mean, do you think that he abducted that child?”
Harry shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, look at how many people are here. She could have easily just got lost in the crowd, don’t you think? I hope that’s what happened; Merlin knows what he’ll do to her if he has her.”
Ron furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head. “What if it had been Vic?” he said. “And if Bill and Fleur had been back there, worrying about her? We’ve got to find her.”
Harry nodded determinedly and turned to a group of people who were standing a few yards away. “Did anyone see this girl?” he asked, holding up the photograph.
The woman who was standing the closest – a middle-aged witch with peculiarly purple eyes and short, dark hair with grey elements – squinted to get a better look and placed a hand over her chest while sighing dramatically. “Oh, that poor child!” she said. “It’s awful, terrible…”
“Yes, I think I saw her,” said a younger woman and took a step forwards. “She was crying; she seemed to have lost her parents. I was just about to go over and helped her when he grabbed her.”
“Who?” said Ron sharply.
“That man,” the woman said. “The one who attacked everyone… he just grabbed her and disapparated. I didn’t have time to stop him.”
“Thank you,” Harry said. “If anyone saw anything else, please come and tell us… we want to find her as soon as possible, and anything you know may be of help…”
Most surfaces in the Burrow were cluttered, full of useless things, broken quills, little pieces of Muggle objects that no longer worked, early editions of Fred and George’s inventions that Mrs Weasley had not yet thrown away, dust or just other rubbish. If one were to examine one of the shelves in the bookshelf more carefully, for example, many interesting discoveries would be made: Ron hadn’t thrown away all of his rat chow since losing Scabbers, Percy had misplaced one page of an old report on cauldron thickness and it had ended up there, and there was a book about dragons there that Charlie had borrowed from Professor Kettleburn and forgot to return before leaving Hogwarts.
But there was one surface in the Weasley home that wasn’t cluttered at all; one that was perfectly tidy and organized, and dedicated to one purpose alone – the mantelpiece, which held all the picture frames with photographs of the family. It was by there that Ginny stood and waited for her mother, and she was keeping herself busy by inspecting them.
The one that had caught her eyes when she had entered the living room was one of her and Harry – her mother had taken it down during their breakup, and this was the first time in months that Ginny had seen it. It had been taken the summer before her last year at Hogwarrts, and they were standing in the orchard, Harry’s arms wrapped around her waist and both of them smiling at the camera. That had been before… everything. Before all of their problems. She was so happy to have him back, but she wondered how long it would be before their relationship would feel like that again. So simple and carefree and just happy… she couldn’t wait for that time.
She let her gaze wander on to a picture of the entire family from when they had visited Bill in Egypt after Ginny’s first year at Hogwarts. Involuntarily, here eyes stopped on Fred’s face; a turban covered his hair, and he was grinning from ear to ear. Ginny reached out her finger to touch his hand, which was waving at the camera. Would it ever get easier, living without him? Ginny wished that she could have him there for just one day more, for him to crack a joke and make her laugh – right now, she just felt like crying. Why had he had to move on? She wished that he had stayed, as a ghost, so that they would at least have been able to talk together. He would have still been in their lives. Ginny could picture it – how he’d fly up through the stove top when Mrs Weasley was cooking and nearly scare the life out of her while howling with laughter, how he’d jump through the wall in the middle of one of Percy’s much too serious sermons and lighten the mood – how he’d make jokes alongside George, just like he always should have been able to.
Next to the family photo was one of Victoire, which must have been taken only weeks after her birth. Her tiny fingers and toes twitched every now and then while she slept, and Ginny smiled while wiping away the tears that had welled up while she had thought of Fred. There was a photo of herself there when she was little and sitting on Charlie’s lap, chewing on Bill’s wand. Her smile grew wider as she thought of what had happened only seconds after the photo had been taken – she had been too young to remember anything, but her parents had told her how she had made fire syringe from the tip of the wand and nearly incinerated the kitchen curtains.
Moving on, Ginny looked at another photo of Victoire, taken when she was a bit older. Ginny recognized the pink, dollish dress that her niece had worn for her first birthday. On the photo, she was standing on Mr Weasley’s lap, bouncing up and down and laughing happily.
One day, Ginny thought, that mantelpiece was going to be full of photographs just like that one. Having seven children would surely mean having a whole army of grandchildren, and she knew that her mother couldn’t wait for it. While it was difficult to picture George as a father, he was already married. It probably wouldn’t be that many years before he and Angelina would cave in to Mrs Weasley’s wishes and start a family. And while Percy was never the one to make a hasty decision, Ginny could definitely imagine him and Audrey having a whole bunch of well-behaved, brainy little children one day. And Ron and Hermione… Ginny giggled at the thought of Ron being a father, but she was convinced that Hermione would want kids. And she had to admit, since Victoire’s birth, that Ron wasn’t completely hopeless with children either.
As for herself… she would definitely want children. One day. In the far, far-off future, when she was done with Quidditch, and married to Harry, and lived in a great house not too far from the Burrow (which really meant not too far from babysitters)… yes, then she would really like to have children. Of course, it would be nice if all the sensation around Harry had worn off by then, too. If that would ever happen – Ginny would most likely be old and decrepit before she would see that day.
She may have had her doubts about some of her brothers, but she was absolutely convinced that Harry would be a great father. Just the other day, the two of them had gone to visit Andromeda and Teddy, and it had been wonderful to see him with his godson. Teddy absolutely adored Harry, and Ginny was quite certain that the affection was mutual.
“Ginny? What are you doing in here?”
Jumping, as if she had been caught doing something that she wasn’t allowed to, Ginny span around. Mrs Weasley stood in the doorway, dressed in an apron and with two large oven mitts on her hands.
“Hi, Mum,” she said. “I was just looking at photos. And thinking that it’s probably going to be crowded on the mantelpiece in a while. When all the grandchildren start coming, I mean.”
Mrs Weasley walked over to her daughter, crossed her arms over her chest and eyed her suspiciously. “All the grandchildren… Ginny, you’re not-?”
“No!” said Ginny quickly. “Of course I’m not!”
“And Angelina and George…?”
“No. Not as far as I know.”
Mrs Weasley looked half relieved, half disappointed. Her eyes were drawn to the photo of her husband and granddaughter, and she sighed while placing an arm around Ginny’s shoulder.
“That little girl really brightens my day,” she said. “And when the time comes for you… I will be so happy for you. That being said, I do hope that day is still some time away…”
“It is, Mum,” Ginny said. “You don’t have to worry. I am aware of the fact that I’m only nineteen!”
“Okay, I’ve just heard back from the Ministry,” Hestia said, grabbing both Harry and Ron by the arm and pulling them away from any curious ears. “We’ve got a location… once we get there, I need you to be very careful and assume that he has taken this child for hostage. Follow my orders, no matter what happens, okay?”
Harry and Ron nodded, still holding on to her arm as she raised her wand and Apparated. In the next moment, they found themselves standing by a roadside, looking up at a small, tumbledown house that seemed to have seen its glory days long ago. The hedge was overgrown, the walls were covered in ivy, and whatever flowers might have once grown on the lawn had been forced to succumb to the long, heavy grass that didn’t seem to have been trimmed in years. The façade of the house looked like it could use some new paint, and the windows were so dirty that they were impossible to see through from where Harry, Ron and Hestia were standing. All in all, it looked like the home of someone who didn’t care at all about it.
“Homenum Revelio,” Hestia mumbled, which resulted in the tip of her wand lighting up twice. “Yes, there are two people here. Ron, what do you think we should do?”
“Me?” Ron’s ears went red. “Well, er…”
“Aren’t you an Auror now?” Hestia asked. “Go on, suggest something.”
Ron hesitated and leered at Harry. Then, he straightened his back and said: “You’ve got the cloak, don’t you? In that case, I think we should get a closer look.”
“Brilliant,” said Hestia approvingly. “Harry, want to do the honours?”
Harry had already pulled out his invisibility cloak. He pulled it on and disappeared from sight. Ron could hear the sound of his footsteps on the asphalt, but as soon as he reached the grass it became completely silent. If he looked carefully, though, he could still see the grass bend down here and there for each new step that Harry took.
It took a few minutes before Harry returned. Then, his head appeared out of nowhere next to Ron, who jumped at least a foot up into the air and took a step back.
“Merlin, you scared me!”
“Pay attention, Weasley,” said Hestia calmly. “So? What did you see?”
“I think it was her in there,” Harry said. “She was sleeping in one of the rooms. The strange thing was, though, that there were photos of her all over the place. Of her and that man, and a few with a woman as well… He’s sitting in the kitchen, by the way. He’s having a cup of tea.”
Ron snorted. “Do kidnappers usually do that?” he asked. “Put the kid to sleep and have tea?”
“No, they usually don’t,” Hestia said. “I say we go and talk to him.”
“Won’t he just Disapparate when he sees us coming?” Harry asked.
“That’s what the Anti-Disapparation Jinx is for, isn’t it?” Ron said, raising his wand to perform it.
Half a minute later, they were all standing outside the man’s front door. Harry knocked on it, and then he took a step back and waited. It flew open only seconds later, revealing a fair-haired man dressed in pyjama bottoms and shirt, pointing his wand at his visitors with a slightly panicked look on his face.
“Who are you?” he said. “What are you doing here?”
“Would you please lower your wand, sir?” Hestia asked, her voice deeper and more authoritarian than normally. “We are from the Auror Office, and we’re here to talk to you about the girl who’s sleeping in the other room at the moment.”
“My daughter?” the man asked. His voice was shivering. “What about her?”
“We don’t think she’s really your daughter,” Ron said. “We think that you took her from her family after attacking all of those people in Diagon Alley, and set that shop on fire-“
“No,” the man protested. “No, no, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. That’s my girl in there, my little Viola…”
Hestia flinched. “Viola? What is your last name?”
“Berenson,” said the man, “and my first name is Roman. And my daughter’s name is Viola, like I said.”
Hestia nodded and took a deep breath. “Mr Berenson,” she said. “Will you please go and wake her – Viola – up? We really need to talk to the two of you together.”
Mr Berenson scratched his neck. “Yes, I suppose I’ll make an exception today,” he said. “She’s supposed to be sleeping, but since you came all the way out here…”
As soon as he had disappeared, Ron turned to Hestia. “Are you saying that this is his daughter?” he asked. “That we made a mistake?”
“No,” Hestia answered. “It can’t be. You see, Viola Berenson was killed during the war. Fenrir Greyback bit her to death. She was only four years old – and it was her father who found her body… what was left of it, that is.”
A/N: Well, I thought it was time to dedicate some time to Ron and Harry's work, especially now that they're not just doing paper work anymore. It would make my day if you would take a moment to tell me what you thought of this chapter.
And as always, I really want to thank you for reading this story. This is actually the first story that I've written that I've ever shared with anyone, and your feedback and reviews and thoughtful comments really mean the world to me. I am so happy that I decided to join this site and share this story with you. Thank you for making me feel so sure about that decision! :)