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Chapter 9 : Who killed Harry Potter?
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The sun had gone down and the dark mark was glittering down at them casting an eerie shadow on the alley in which they stood.
“Ready?” Hermione asked Draco, who looked rather pale.
“As ready as I’ll ever be, which isn’t very,” he said, turning to Hermione. She nodded, and, wands at the ready, the two apparated inside Arthur Weasley’s office. It was dark inside and Hermione lit the tip of her wand.
“Let’s go,” Draco whispered, stepping out of the office. The hallways were vacant and Hermione once again realized that something was amiss. Hermione felt a shiver run up her spine. Something was not right here tonight. The air around them was heavy and she felt as though she were suffocating. But nothing could have prepared her for what she saw as the two turned a corner.
“POTTER!” Draco screamed before Hermione could open her mouth. There, standing casually against a wall, arms crossed, hair as messy as ever, was Harry Potter. He was wearing a smirk worthy of a Malfoy, and his lips curled ever so slightly upon seeing the two.
“H-Harry?” Hermione asked meekly, knowing full well that it was not Harry who stood before her. Still, seeing his form was striking and her breath caught in her throat.
“Hello, Hermione. I’ve been waiting to announce my return to the real world, and I’m so glad you’ve finally come! It took you forever, I figured the ministry was the first place you’d come.” Hermione wrinkled her eyebrows in thought.
“But I did come here, I- who are you? You are not Harry Potter, Harry Potter is dead.”
“But I am, Hermione, I am. You see, I planted a fake body in my ‘casket.’ I knew that’d be just the thing you’d do- go and dig up my body! That’s just gross, ‘Mione. For all you know I could have been bones, or have little tags of flesh. Or did you not think about me having maggots crawling out of my skull?” He laughed sardonically.
“That isn’t true, and you know it. You are using polyjuice potion, whoever you are! I have figured you out, so please stop hiding behind my dead best friend. How dare you! And you actually believed that I thought Harry might be alive!” She ignored the fact that she had actually thought that not more than an hour ago.
Harry began to clap slowly, still smiling a smile that Hermione wanted to curse off his face.
“Very good, very good, brilliance shining through your thick skull, as always. But did you not stop to think that perhaps you were wrong? Things can happen that you have no control over, ‘Mione. Did you ever think about that? That perhaps, unbeknownst to you, that this whole whirlwind ride you’ve been on these past couple of days have been a set up for a bigger power than your small little self, ‘Mione?”
“STOP CALLING ME THAT!” She screamed. “Only Ron calls me that!” And almost, as if on cue, Ron stepped from behind the shadows.
“What the fuck?” Draco asked out loud. It was if someone were listening from above, planning the whole thing. Instead of going hysterical, he decided to remain calm. Hermione’s eyes were widened in terror, the memory of her last visit with him vivid in her mind.
“How did you know we dug up the grave?” Draco asked before Hermione could make a move.
“Simple. I was following you,” Harry said simply.
“You weren’t, I know you weren’t,” Hermione burst out suddenly. “Do you think I didn’t take careful consideration as to where my surroundings were? There was no way we could have been followed, how did you know?”
“In-vis-a-bil-i-ty cloak. Are you really that dull? You really have lost some brain cells since the last time we met, haven’t you?” Harry laughed.
“That isn’t possible,” Hermione whispered staring into Harry’s cold eyes. “It isn’t possible because you gave it to me the day before you died, and I have kept it hidden, even from Ron. It was my little piece of you I had left. I will never understand why you didn’t give it to Ron or anyone else, but you gave it to me. And I know where it is, safe and sound. Now you tell me who you are before I’m forced to kill you.”
“You’ll never guess, you really never will,” Ron said, taking the spotlight off his raven haired friend. The two shared a laugh.
“I don’t care to guess who it is, Ronald, I want to know, and I want you to tell me now.”
“Oooh, busting out the full name, are we, ‘Mione? Well, for your information, hearing you speak my name in full doesn’t send the shivers down my spine as it used to. In fact, I’ve been quite content not having you around to mess up my affairs!” He laughed quietly to himself.
“I bet it’s just killing you, isn’t it, ‘Mione, not knowing the answer. Something the great Hermione Granger doesn’t know. The Aurors will be here any minute, you know. I’ve sent for them, and you and Malfoy will be picked up on conspiracy against the Ministry’s favorite son.” Harry laughed at the nickname he gave himself. Hermione looked desperately back to Draco, who shook his head in defeat. There was no way to escape this puzzle, no way it could ever work out in their favor.
“Wait a minute,” Ron said, stepping forward. “You’re fucking him, aren’t you? Oh, that’s rich, that’s so wonderful stereotypical of you, Hermione. You don’t know what to do so you go and run to the first damn man you see. Well, was he a good fuck? Was he?” Hermione remained glued to the floor as she calmly chose her words.
“I made a promise to you, not too long ago. I promised I would stay faithful to you, and I have. I still love you Ron, even though you’re a raving lunatic. You’re still my Ronnie, and I still care about you.”
“Women. They always have this pent up emotion inside, you know she’s dying to crack, Harry, you know she is. ‘You’re still my Ronnie, and I still care about you.’ Hogwash, if you ask me.” Hermione knew he was trying to provoke her, trying to get her to do anything out of the ordinary, but she was determined to stay rooted in her spot.
“Don’t you get it, Granger? I hate you. I don’t want to be near you. You killed Harry Potter!” Ron shrieked, bringing up the argument that she’d heard so long ago.
“HOW is it possible, Ronald, for me to have killed Harry Potter, if he is STANDING RIGHT HERE!” she yelled back at him, matching his tone.
“I-er-“ Ron began to stutter over his words. Hermione could feel his confidence breaking before them. Something was definitely not right, and it was becoming clearer and clearer that Ron was not here of his own chosing.
“I-that is- don’t change the subject! It’s too late for you!”
“He’s right you know. It is too late. They are here for you,” Harry said, pointing towards the north side of the hall. Footsteps were then audible, and Orion Candise appeared with a team of aurors, cornering the two fugitives.
“Here, Here!” Ron yelled, pointing at Hermione and Draco. Hermione moved closer into Draco, and a sudden feeling of apathy washed over it. It was inevitable. She knew the aurors were going to come eventually.
“Tell me this,” Draco asked as the aurors circled them. “Who set the dark mark into the sky? Who made my dark mark burn?”
“Why, you did,” answered Harry, smirking. Soon after, the two were hit by stunning spells.
Hermione shook her head and looked around. She and Draco were tied to chairs in a grand office, which Hermione guessed was somewhere inside the ministry. She was amazed that she wasn’t already condemned to Azkaban.
“Draco!” She hissed, trying to see if her ally was still alive.
“Yeah,” he whispered weakly. “This is rather disheartening, isn’t it?”
“Slightly.” Hermione sighed, so confused that she had trouble remembering what had happened in the first place. She recounted everything that had happened in her mind. She’d come home, and Ron had accused her of killing Harry Potter. She’d gone to the Weasley’s and actually saw Harry dead on Ron’s bed. She fled from the Weasleys and ended up at Neville and Luna’s house. From there she took the ride from the police officer and ended up at the Ministry. After that it was to the Oxford hotel to think, and then to Draco’s. After recounting her story, they went to the mansion, then to the graveyard, and now to here. Hermione shook her head, still confused as ever. She was being chased for the murder of Harry Potter, but his death had been ruled a suicide long ago, and his body was still lying in its casket. Yet, there he was standing in the hallway, talking to her. Whoever “Harry” was, they were clearly taking polyjoice potion, and Ron was under some kind of Imperius curse. The Weasleys had all been put under the imperius curse, and they’d all received some version of the novo animus spell.
Hermione sighed in frustration, still getting no where. There was no one she knew who had a vendetta against her, except maybe Ron, and even he seemed to have a higher reason for wanting her out of his life. Hermione had exhausted her supply of friends, and she had no one left to call out to. Then she had a thought.
“Draco, isn’t this Percy Weasley’s office?” she asked quietly.
“So it is,” he replied.
“Well, he’ll believe us, won’t he?” she asked hopefully. “I mean, who would put the minister himself under an imperius. Maybe he can figure out who did the dark mark, he could help us!”
“I…don’t trust…anyone.” Draco breathed heavily as his words squeezed from a rapidly closing throat.
“Draco?!” Hermione exclaimed, alarm filling her voice.
“Percy Weasley, eh?” Hermione whirled around to see Harry standing there once more.
“You’ve got to help him, you must! There’s…there’s something wrong with him!”
“There is? Aww, what’s wrong with poor Draco?”
“I-I don’t know, please, you must help him!”
“Did you know, Hermione, that Draco is allergic to peanuts?”
“I-no. Why would I know that?”
“Well, dear, if you did know that, then you would know exactly what’s wrong with him.”
“WHAT! Why would you do that? That’s so cruel…that’s worse than killing him with avada kedavra, and it’s worse then poisoning him! Why are you killing him?”
“Because, Hermione, He killed Harry Potter!” Ron screamed as he ran into the room. “HARRY! RUN!” shocked, Harry had little time to move before another red head came sprinting into the room.
“You! Imposter! Away!” Percy Weasley dramatically waved his wand and Harry Potter changed into Neville Longbottom.
“NEVILLE!” Hermione shrieked. “Why!!” But before Neville could answer, Draco began to choke and hack loudly, and then he slumped down in his chair.
“NO!” screamed Hermione. Percy used his wand to bind Neville and then pointed it at Draco. With some quick wand work, he was able to widen Draco’s trachea, and precious oxygen seeped into his nostrils. Life was breathed back into him, but he remained unconscious.
Knowing that Draco would be okay, Hermione turned her attention back to Neville.
“Why, Neville? Why would you go around pretending to be Harry! You-you used his hair to create polyjuice potion, I know what you did.” She paused and took a deep, calming breath. Then, she made a promise to herself not to get too upset as she opened her mouth to speak the words that had been on her mind all these many days.
“Why did you accuse me of killing Harry? And why did you just now accuse Draco of killing Harry? You know he killed himself. Why are you bringing the past into everything-it was so long ago, and you know yourself how it all happened. Why is this happening to me? And why Draco? He didn’t make that dark mark, he didn’t make the dark mark burn on his own skin. What has been happening?”
“But Draco did kill Harry,” Percy said, moving closer to untie Hermione.
“But I know he didn’t. Voldemort tried to use me as a pawn in his game, but Draco ran into me as hard as he could to knock me out of the way. And then I, foolishly thinking he was still fighting on the dark side, began to fight him. He kept deflecting my curses, trying to tell me what was going on. Then, Remus Lupin, who saw what was going on, was able to come to me and tell me that Draco had joined the order at last minute because of what happened to his father and mother. As soon as I got that information, it was all over, Harry had killed Voldemort, and I rushed over to Harry. It all happened so fast, but I know for a fact that when Voldemort was defeated, Draco apparated straight away.”
“You know, now that you mention it, I remember all that. Okay, mystery solved!” Percy said brightly.
“Wh-what? I’ve been on the run for…I can’t even remember how many days, and that’s it?” Hermione asked incredulously.
“That’s the way it’s shaping out to be! Poor brother Ronald, it seems as though he’s gone off his rocker, I’ll be placing a call to St. Mungo’s first thing in the morning. I think he’s been driven into insanity by Mr. Longbottom over there, and I’m almost positive there’s a place on the closed ward of St. Mungo’s for him.”
“WHAT!” Hermione exclaimed. “That’s not possible! I know it’s not, not my Ronnie, no, it’s not happening.”
“I’m afraid it is. And it’s all for the better, Hermione, trust me. Mother and father would be so ashamed of Ronald, succumbing to lies so easily. Think if Neville had been he-who-must-not-be-named, that would be awful, and think of the shame to the family name! No, St. Mungo’s is the best place for him! Now, let me take you to my private quarters to get you cleaned up! You’ve certainly had an interesting couple of days, eh?”
“Are you insane? I can’t just leave! I have to talk to Ron, I have to make sure he’s okay! And what about Draco?” Percy smiled at Hermione.
It was at this point that she realized that he was dressed very pompously. His robes were woven with thread of gold, and the Minister’s crest was embroidered on his left breast. It looked as though he had just stepped off an election podium. He was well groomed and smelled of pine and musk. Hermione hadn’t realized how close he’d gotten, and she had been too busy thinking to realize that he had not yet untied her.
“Percy, could you please untie me?” she asked rather forcefully.
“Oh, love, I don’t think that’s necessary! I’ll just do a side-by-side apparition, and we’ll be there in a jiffy!”
“I’d really like it if you’d untie me,” she repeated, more calmly this time.
“Now Hermione, I’ve been chasing after you for nearly a week now! You think that once I finally have you, I’d let you go?”
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