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Chapter 16 : A Dangerous Twist
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A Dangerous Twist
Hermione took a deep shuddering breath and stepped away from the used portkey. The air was cold and clingy, something that ran through her bones and pierced her heart. Not for the first time did she feel regret swelling in her stomach, like a weight that refused to go away. Should she really be doing this? Surely Ryan just wanted to be left in peace? Whether she should be doing this or not, there were more strong reasons for why she had to - there was the risk of Ryan losing his memory, possibly his life, and Dumbledore had mentioned to her before she left that he himself had been concerned for the safety of the couple, and had even had members of the Order posted around Ryan’s flat in London, in case Voldemort tried anything. It was a pity that love held such a danger.
Draco had hugged her firmly before she’d left, his arms strong and firm about her.
“Good luck,” he had whispered gently into her hair. “I hope everything goes well.”
“Met too,” she’d responded quietly with effort. “Me too . . .”
Sighing and closing her eyes, Hermione tried to drive the fear away only to hear the sound of footsteps coming from her right. Her eyes flew open again and she felt her hand instantly go to her wand, her fingers closing about it, but the familiar face that appeared from the darkness only made her smile rather than cry out.
“Tonks,” she greeted the woman brightly, stepping forward to receive the woman’s embracing hug. “How are you? Professor Dumbledore said that you’d be here.”
“Yes,” the woman nodded with a quick smile. “He gave me orders to meet you.” Her eyes appeared amused suddenly. “I heard about your little disagreement.”
Hermione, who had been expecting the witch to compliment her on her new found looks, bit her lip and glanced quickly at the floor, hoping that Tonks didn’t know everything that had occurred between her and Ryan, as well as the reason they had split up.
“Hey,” the woman assured her softly, throwing an arm round her and never releasing her bright smile. “It’s nothing to worry about. We’ll sort it out in no time.”
“If anything happens to him,” she choked through the tears that cracked her voice and welled her eyes, “I couldn’t forgive myself.”
“Then lets go and find his house so you can stop worrying,” Tonks replied warmly, leading Hermione forward and flicking back her pink hair. “The sooner you get this over with, the better.”
Tonks led her down a small alleyway that was grimy with dirt, the gutters trickling water and graffiti elaborating the area. The moon shone down watchful and fat through the thickened clouds that hemmed the sky, and not one star was to be seen through such piercing cold. Of course this was only a small part of America, and Hermione had no idea whereabouts it was, but for someone as famous and wealthy as Ryan, the street they were walking down was pretty rough. There were no palm trees lining the thick wide road like she saw in films, nor the widespread houses with shimmering swimming pools and luxury cars pulled up in the driveway. This place was simple and tangled with squashed-together houses, just like you’d find down some poverty-wrecked street inside London.
“This is where he lives?” asked Hermione with vague surprise when Tonks pulled her to a stop outside a tacky run-down house, squashed between several others, with no driveway and a streetlamp burning directly into a curtainless window.
“This is the way he went,” Tonks nodded, “so yes, I assume so.”
Hermione took a deep breath and looked at Tonks with pleading eyes. “You really think I should do this?”
“That’s one pretty man you’ve got there, Hermione,” grinned Tonks, her eyes flashing brightly. Her cheerful manner never seemed to fade, and her whole warm personality sent out pleasant, encouraging vibes. “Don’t lose him.”
Nodding, Hermione swallowed hard as Tonks gave her a reassuring pat on the arm, and the girl walked the short distance to the door and knocked loudly, Tonks quickly making herself scarce. She felt the dread grow colder and more intense as she was forced to shift around and wait. Suddenly she wondered if Tonks had got it wrong and they were at the wrong place - after all, this place was incredibly run down.
Suddenly the door opened and a dishevelled looking Ryan stared at her. His mouth dropped open as she pushed quickly passed him and shut the door, locking it with a wave of her wand.
“You’re not going anywhere until you’ve allowed me to explain everything to you,” she snapped hastily, glowering at him. “How could you, Ryan? How could you just leave like that?”
He dropped his head instantly to gaze at the floor, looking ashamed. “I’m sorry . . . I just had to get out of there, and after what you did -”
“ - You promised you wouldn’t hate me for it,” she interrupted him fiercely, her anger released after having been trapped for so long inside of her. “Do you remember that? You said, “Herm, I could never hate you”, and now you do.” She could feel the tears already falling down her face, slow and broken and hurt. She didn’t dare look at Ryan. A silence fell slowly between them.
“I don’t hate you,” he whispered softly at last. “I was just angry, that’s all. How could you expect me not to be? I mean, you told me you loved me and -”
“ - I do,” she enforced her point with desperation. “You must know that.”
“But after what you did . . .”
“I told you I’m sorry.”
This time the pause held out longer, and the couple stood awkwardly in the hallway. The place was filthy and stone cold. The plastic floor was covered with muddy footprints and bloodstains, and the wallpaper was horrible and torn. Ryan spoke up.
“How did you find me here?”
“Dumbledore . . . He sent me to you. I wanted to find you and apologise.” She suddenly remembered her discussion with the wizard earlier. “Ryan, I’ve got so much I have to tell you.”
He nodded. “Me too. I didn’t want you to see this place. I don’t want you here.”
Her face flushed red with hurt, but he quickly corrected himself.
“I m-mean,” he stuttered, his cheeks burning, “I’d rather we were somewhere else, at my apartment in Las Vagas . . . Anywhere but here.”
She didn’t pursue the topic. The way he glanced around the place with so much love yet so much disgust made her uncomfortable - this place obviously held secrets for him, and she wondered how it could connect with his past. She had never really talked about his life outside herself and being a rock star; suddenly she realised that really, despite her adoration and love for Ryan, she didn’t really know him at all.
“Shall we sit down?” she ventured, glancing at the broken stairway. He nodded and took her hand, the touch of his skin against hers flooding her with the old warmth she had once been so used to. She wanted to throw herself on him and kiss him hard until he was dead, because there was a pain in his soft eyes now that she couldn’t establish, and it looked as if that pain was something she could never heal.
The living room contained a smashed-in television, a dim light and an empty fireplace, a sofa centred in the middle, aging with damp. Ryan sniffed at it with disdain but sat down nonetheless, whilst Hermione pretended not to notice and quickly wedged herself in alongside him. Here there was no carpet, the concrete being the only flooring.
“First of all,” Hermione started bravely, holding his hands in hers, “I want to say I love you . . . So much, and nothing you say or do could ever spoil that.”
He bit his lip and nodded.
“Secondly, I want to say I’m sorry for what I did, truly sorry, I mean, and I didn’t mean to hurt you. I wasn’t thinking, and I’ve acted like a fool. I’m not trying to come up with excuses for myself, because there aren’t any, only that I’ve been very stupid and I hope you’ll forgive me.”
Ryan was silent for a while, his face quiet and strangely empty. Then he nodded and quickly glanced up at her. “I don’t want this to drive us apart, either. I don’t want anything to ever drive us apart. You’re not the only one who’s acted like an idiot, Herm. I’m partly to blame for all this mess as well. If I hadn’t walked away from you back at the train station, then you probably wouldn’t have done this, right?”
She shrugged with honestly. The truth was, she didn’t really know. Would she really have still done what she did with Blaise if Ryan hadn’t walked away from her at King’s Cross Station? She wasn’t sure. She told Ryan so. He nodded.
“Well, I was stupid in any case,” he admitted, “I asked too much of you and it wasn’t fair. And another thing - whilst I’ve had different sexual relationships with different girls in the past, you’ve only ever had me. I don’t blame you for wanting to try yourself out with other people.” He smiled suddenly. “You’re here now, and that’s what matters. Forget the past.”
She could already see the past of this house haunting his eyes, but she didn’t mention that just yet. Instead, she tightened her grip on his hands. “I’m not going to deny that I was curious, but now I know it will only ever be you that I want, and that’s enough for me to survive a lifetime. But I’m not letting you accept any of the blame, Ryan, because it’s entirely my own fault. I’m responsible for my own actions, and I don’t want you to blame anyone but me, because I need to accept that there are consequences for things like this. Now, can I kiss you?”
He laughed but shook his head. “Not yet. You said there were some other things you wanted to sort out.”
“Well,” she admitted uneasily. “There’s one thing in that we never talk. We have lots of . . . you know . . .” she blushed, “but we need to talk about things more calmly.”
“What sort of things?” he frowned.
“Anything. Everything.” Sighing, she threw her hands up in the air, getting flustered. “All couples have to talk. I’m comfortable with you, but you never seem to tell me anything outside of our relationship . . . You know, like your life and stuff.”
He looked worried suddenly and shifted in the seat. “I guess I’m just not a very talkative person.”
Hermione smiled, closing the distance between them to hold his face in her hands, stroking his soft caress-able cheeks. “We should change that.” She watched as Ryan bit his lip and fear seemed to mount his eyes. “Unless you don’t want to . . .”
“It’s just a little difficult, you know?”
This time she did kiss him, because there was an ache inside her to place her mouth against that delicious pout. He looked so hurt and fragile then, precarious and scared and terribly sad. She wanted to rip that sadness away and find the Ryan that she had always known, the one who was cheeky and mischievous and loving. Not that she doubted he loved her, it was just that she couldn’t stand to see him upset without knowing why. She feared that it was her fault.
“Ryan, you have forgiven me, haven’t you?”
“Of course,” he forced a smile, yet his precarious eyes were still stung with pain. Hermione kissed him again, but when he didn’t respond she pulled away, sighing.
“Do you want me to go?”
“No,” he protested quickly, sitting up straight after staring at the floor as if he had been jolted by a sudden spark of electricity. He grabbed her hands and pulled her close, a pleading look entering his face. “No, I don’t want you to leave. Maybe we could go somewhere else?”
“What’s wrong with here?”
“It’s just so full . . . of memories. Please, Herm, can we go?”
“No,” she snapped suddenly. “No we can’t, not until you tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“Why you look so sad.”
This time she could see the tears as they entered his eyes and dribbled down his cheeks. She felt horrified, pulling him close to her suddenly and pushing his head against her chest so that he could hear the beating of her heart. He choked on a sob as she kissed his hair.
“Ryan, tell me, please . . .”
“It’s stupid really,” he replied in a half-whisper.
“Not if it’s upsetting you this much, it isn’t. Please Ryan, talk to me.”
He pulled away from her and sniffed, wiping his face with the back of his sleeve so that it came away soaked with salty tears. “I just hate this place so much . . . But it’s home, you know?”
“Why do you hate it?”
“My dad, he used to live here. He died here. God, I hated him.”
“Oh,” said Hermione simply, suddenly understanding his tears, and knowing immediately that someone like Ryan couldn’t hate anyone, especially not his own father. The anxiety in his eyes told her that, assured her that this boy was craving for his father instead of hating him as he claimed to. Suddenly she remembered reading about Ryan’s relationship with his father in a magazine.
“He used to hit you . . . didn’t he?”
Ryan choked but nodded.
“Is that why there’s bloodstains around the house? Because he used to hurt you?”
“Yeah,” he looked ashamed. “He deserved to die. He was a bastard.”
“I know you don’t mean that.”
“Herm, please . . .”
“No,” she told him firmly. “We’re going to talk about this. I’m going to help you.”
“You can’t help me,” he smiled, looking at her intently. “Nothing will just make him go away. And besides, Tom talks to me about it sometimes.”
“Tom?” Hermione remembered the picture of Ryan’s best friend and band mate. When she had met him, he had seemed like a nice person, and the two were definitely close. She fell a sudden jealousy that Ryan could talk to Tom about such things, and yet he couldn’t discuss them with her. It wasn’t her place though to force it out of him. Standing up, she pulled him to his feet alongside her and leant forward to peck his cheek with her lips lightly.
“Come on, we’re going somewhere else.” She knew it would be better for him if he was less stressed. “I’ve been given permission to have three days with you, and I’m sure that my friend Tonks can somehow get us quick transport to your apartment in Las Vages. If you hate this place that much, then we should go and stay elsewhere.”
“Thanks Herm,” he replied softly.
“It’s not a problem, but Ryan - there’s no point in pretending to me you hate this place, otherwise why would you have come here today? It’s your childhood home, no matter what your father used to do to you, and you love this place because you love him.” She sealed his lips with another kiss before he could protest. “Don’t lie to me,” she whispered against his mouth. “Remember how we said we’re going to tell each other everything from now on?”
“Right then. Let’s go.”
Gathering up her bags again, Hermione took out her wand and walked towards the door with a faint smile, pulling Ryan after her.
So it was a surprise to find when she opened the door that Tonks was sprawled across the floor, a dead, shocked look to her still and staring eyes, with four Death Eaters crowded around her. They looked up at the sound of her approach, and Hermione felt her whole body freeze.
Taking three quick steps back, she dropped her trunk and slammed the door tightly shut, spinning around to face Ryan, her face blanched pale and her voice coming out as a squeak.
“Oh my god,” she gasped though widened eyes. “Oh my god . . .”
“What?” he asked, his eyes confused. “What is it?”
“You didn’t see, did you? The body . . . My friend! Tonks!” she shrieked, wringing hands through her soft hair. “Oh Ryan, remember how I told you about Lord Voldemort and his faithful Death Eaters?” He nodded hesitantly. She gripped hold of him and pulled him into a firm hug. “Well, they’re here.”
Author's Note: Thanks to all who reviewed my step-sister's fic, she really apprechiated it!
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