Chapter 15 : Truth is a Poison
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Author’s Note: PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE BEGINNING THE CHAPTER. This is a sad chapter. If you are sensitive, please read at your own risk. And please don’t get so upset with me that you stop reading this fic. I’ve put so much into it that that would just break my heart.
Also, there are some spoilers in here. I started writing this before DH came out, but after I read DH, I decided to add some of the sub plots into my story. So, enjoy. (:
Desire and Demise
Truth is a Poison
It was well into the night when the trio in the Common Room heard a commotion outside the portrait hole. The fire was already dying down – a sure sign that morning was rapidly approaching – and they were still sitting together, talking about everything and nothing all at once. At the sound of voices and pounding footfalls, they quickly scrambled up and moved towards the portrait hole.
“What’s the password?”
“No one’s told me. Minerva knows… don’t you, Minerva?”
“Oh, let me through. It’s ‘Extrico.’ ”
The Fat Lady’s portrait swung open, and her hearty voice rang out. “You may enter.”
“Come on, you lot. Go through.”
“Are we going to tell her, Remus?”
“No, I -”
Four people entered the room and immediately stopped speaking at the sight of Hermione, Ginny and Ron standing before them. Several gave the trio very false, over-exaggerated smiles to cover up their blunder.
“Tell me what?” Hermione demanded uncertainly.
“Anything you want, of course.” It was Tonks. She was a bit scratched up, but unharmed for the most part.
“We will tell you anything you ask of us,” Remus said. He seemed terribly tired, and was sporting a shiny black eye. “You may be young, but you are as much a part of this as we are. All of you are good friends of Harry’s, and therefore -”
“Oh no! Something happened to him, I know it!” shrieked Ginny. She shrunk back into the couch, shaking from head to toe.
“Has something happened to him? Is he… alive?” Hermione asked quietly, the terrible reality of truth pouring over her like ice.
“Yes,” Mr. Weasley responded. “Harry’s alive.”
Hermione felt a wave or relief wash out the uncertainty that had claimed her seconds before.
No one spoke for some time following Mr. Weasley’s words. The only sounds were the cracking and spluttering of the dying flames.
“And?” Ginny pursued. She had ceased shaking, but her eyes were glazed with fresh, glistening tears.
“He’s recovering,” Professor McGonagall replied, her face betraying no emotion.
“Recovering from what, exactly?” Ron asked, sitting beside Ginny and placing a gentle arm around her shoulders.
“He’s had a rough night,” Remus explained. He was gripping onto Tonks’ hand tightly; her head was bowed in remembrance of all that had happened. Hermione longed to know what was going through her mind.
“Are you going to tell us or not?!” Ginny yelled, pounding her fist against the arm of the couch.
“We did say we’d tell them anything they asked of us,” McGonagall pointed out.
“I suppose you’re right,” Mr. Weasley chimed in. “It was V-Voldemort’s doing.” He seemed shocked that he had used the dark wizard’s proper name, but continued on as though nothing had happened. “They were engaged in a rather treacherous battle at the end.”
“At the end?” Hermione asked, standing in between where Ron and Ginny sat and where the members of the Order were gathered.
“Voldemort was vanquished, Hermione. For good,” Remus responded. Despite his exhaustion, a genuine smile claimed his scratched lips.
“He’s dead?” Ron asked.
“Believe it,” Tonks responded, nodding.
“The Order has been working secretly and efficiently, destroying Voldemort’s Horcruxes one by one,” Remus continued. He had not released his grip on Tonks’ hand. “When we got down to the last two, things began happening. Terrible things that we couldn’t explain. We think Voldemort may have known what we were doing, and he thought it best to stop us before we could go any further.”
“Is that why the Death Eaters pushed Draco into kidnapping me? Were they growing desperate?” Hermione asked, trying to piece together the pieces of the puzzle.
“Yes, we believe so. And Barton Thorne’s death was all part of the plan,” he explained.
“Plan? What plan? The plan to capture me?” she asked.
“Yes and no. Your kidnapping was part of the bigger plan as well. It was the plan to lure Harry in, and, ultimately, extinguish him. You were simply the bait,” Remus responded. “The plan failed, of course.”
“You see, Voldemort wanted to get rid of Harry before we got rid of his remaining Horcruxes. That’s why they took you, that’s why their Secret Keeper conveniently ‘got scared’ and passed the job along to Peter Pettigrew, and that’s why there weren’t any protection spells surrounding the area. Voldemort wanted Harry to find him, without it appearing that he did. He expected to catch Harry off guard,” Tonks explained.
“But all the Death Eaters seemed shocked when Harry told them about Pettigrew,” Hermione insisted. She wanted to believe them, and she did trust them, but it was all too much to take in.
“It’s likely they didn’t know about the plan,” Mr. Weasley told them. “Vol-Voldemort was very secretive. He wouldn’t have risked the failure of his plan by telling all of his Death Eaters. It’s likely he only told his inner circle.”
“But his plan did fail,” Ginny said, her eyes dry.
“Exactly,” Mr. Weasley responded.
“How exactly did it happen?” Ron asked curiously.
“Voldemort’s demise, you mean? None of us are really sure,” Mr. Weasley admitted. When he noted the confused expressions of his children and Hermione, he quickly added, “You’ll have to ask Harry about that one. They sort of… vanished for a while. When they both reappeared, Harry was unconscious and Voldemort was dead.”
“And what of the others? Are they okay?” Ginny asked.
“Some,” Tonks replied, suddenly breathless.
Hermione inhaled sharply, and felt her legs grow weak. She feared they wouldn’t support her any longer, and quickly moved over to the couch and sat down before her knees gave out.
“Alastor Moody and Peter Pettigrew were killed,” McGonagall said quickly. Her emotionless mask melted into a mess of worried lines. They shot across her face like cracks in plaster.
“And many others were injured,” Tonks added sadly. Hermione saw Remus squeeze her hand reassuringly.
“Moody’s gone.” Hermione’s voice was a mere wisp of a sound. “He helped me escape, and now…”
“Don’t you dare feel guilty for one second, Hermione,” Tonks added. “He wouldn’t have left the battle even if he’d had the chance. Fighting Death Eaters was in his blood.”
“Who’s injured?” Ron asked. Worry smacked him across the face; his cheeks grew maroon with fear. “Is it Bill? Charlie? Fred? George? Percy? Dad, are they hurt?”
“Bill and Charlie are just fine. Percy showed up late, and is entirely unharmed. Fred and George are, well they aren’t dead.” It was all he could bring himself to say. The tall man turned from the group and walked towards the window, where he proceeded to stare out wordlessly. Hermione knew he was hiding tears.
“They’re pretty banged up,” Tonks explained, frowning.
“But they will survive,” McGonagall added.
Both Ron and Ginny breathed a sigh of relief, but Hermione did not share their happiness. There was something nagging at her, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“What’s going on?”
The forms of Neville Longbottom and Dean Thomas suddenly emerged into the Common Room. They were pajama-clad and misty-eyed, but curious nonetheless. Neville’s hair stuck up oddly, but he paid it no mind.
“Oh, nothing,” Tonks said, practically ensuring that there was, in fact, something going on.
“You boys can go back up to your dormitories,” McGonagall told them. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a command.
“That’s not necessary, Minerva. They are both friends of Harry’s, and know of the Order,” Remus said.
“Alright, then. They may stay and listen. I am under the presumption that all of Hogwarts will know of these events by morning anyway.” McGonagall sighed.
The two sleepy boys took a seat upon the two aged armchairs. Neville cocked his head curiously to one side, as though he was still deciding whether or not this was a dream. Dean seemed about to nod off again. Hermione wouldn’t mind if he did. In fact, she didn’t want them there at all. They didn’t know all that happened; they hadn’t been there. They didn’t know the fear she had experienced that night. They were the outsiders.
But she quickly shook off those feelings. She had no right to call them outsiders, especially since she had spent half the year avoiding anyone and everyone, claiming they wouldn’t ‘understand her.’ By doing this, she hadn’t only alienated herself, but them as well. They deserved to hear this just as much as she did.
“So now what? Now that it’s all over, what happens now?” Ron asked.
“It’s far from over, Mr. Weasley,” McGonagall informed him. “But I suppose we start by announcing Voldemort’s defeat, and we begin cleaning up the wizarding world. Enforce unity, break down prejudice. We need to bring people together, or we are bound to return to this point again, and we can’t have that happening.”
“And of course we get everyone healed up,” Tonks continued. “Several funerals will have to be arranged as well.”
“Several? But I thought you said only two members of the Order died.” Hermione stared up at McGonagall quizzically.
“We’re going to bury the Death Eaters as well, Miss Granger,” she informed. “They may not have been on our side, but they were human beings nonetheless.”
“How many of them are dead?” Ron asked, blunt as always.
“Five.” Tonks eyed Remus uncomfortably, and he shook his head.
“What’s going on?” Hermione asked. She hated being in the dark.
Neville and Dean were both wearing expressions of utter confusion. They had no idea what had happened, and seemed to want to ask questions, but had thought better of it. Both of their mouths were shut tightly.
“Who -” Hermione couldn’t bring herself to finish the question. The knowledge that five Death Eaters had been killed had done nothing for her nerves. In fact, it had awakened the doubt that had been locked away deep within the chambers of her heart: was Draco alive?
“Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, Vincent Rowle, Delia Nott, and…” Remus’ eyes were on Hermione, but he seemed to be looking through her rather than at her.
Her mouth opened to ask who the final Death Eater had been, but nothing came out but a muffled whimper. She felt as though all of her blood had frozen, and if she were to move a centimeter in any direction, her entire body would shatter. Even before Remus told her the final name, she felt her legs begin to quiver. The room began spinning. Everything was distorted and jagged, even Remus’ voice.
Hermione fell forward off the couch and hit the ground, unconscious.
“We’re going to see Harry. Are you coming?”
“No,” Hermione responded.
“I know you’re upset, but Harry’s your friend. It would cheer you up to see him. And you haven’t gotten out of bed for days.”
“Just leave me alone, Ginny.”
“Fine. But Harry’s been asking for you.”
The sound of a door closing announced Ginny’s departure. Hermione rolled over in her bed and gazed at the wall next to her four-poster. It was dark and gray, with a jagged appearance. These past few days, it had been the only thing in her life that made any sense. It was the only thing that understood her, and listened to her.
“This isn’t fair,” she told it, brushing a frizzy lock of hair from her eyes. “He didn’t deserve to die.”
Tears threatened, and she closed her eyes tightly to stop them. But come they did, pressing through her eyelids and dampening the pillow beneath her head.
When her eyes had dried of tears, Hermione sat up. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up, holding a hand against the cold wall to keep herself balanced. The rough texture scratched at her skin.
“Not you too,” Hermione mumbled. The wall had hurt her. It was no longer on her side.
Sighing deeply, she walked towards the window. Bright rays of sun shone through the glass, warming her cheeks. A bright blue sky burned her weary eyes. Why was the beautiful weather taunting her? Why was it still warm and sunny outside when she was so terribly cold and clouded inside?
Go see Harry.
The green trees and fluffy clouds seemed to convey a message to the girl. And for once, she agreed. Draco may be gone, but Harry was still alive. He needed her right now, and she needed him too.
Hermione entered the Hospital Wing several hours later. Her steps were unsure and tentative at first, but at the sight of Harry, smiling and healthy in his bed, she all but skipped over to him. She had been right to come. The moment his eyes met hers, her heart seemed to explode with joy.
“Hermione, it’s so good to see you!” She bent down to hug him. His warm embrace was ten times more comforting than the jagged wall she had been conversing with for the past few days.
Ron, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley were at his bedside. They all smiled cautiously up at her in greeting. Hermione was a bit hurt, but knew she had brought this upon herself by exploding at them every time they had offered a comforting hand.
“I’m sorry for biting your head off, Ginny. It wasn’t fair of me to do that to you. You were only looking out for me,” Hermione apologized.
Ginny shook her head. “You were upset. I know it’s been hard,” Ginny responded. She grabbed Hermione’s hand in her own and gave it a quick squeeze.
Mrs. Weasley stood up. “Well, I’m off to visit Fred and George at St. Mungo’s,” she announced. “I’ll be seeing you.” Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione said their good-byes, and Hermione sat down in Mrs. Weasley’s now empty chair. Mrs. Weasley promptly walked out of the room and vanished from sight.
“You seem to be healthy,” Hermione said to Harry. “You feeling all right?”
“I’m a bit restless, now that you mention it,” he admitted. “Madame Pomfrey insists I stay another night, but I’m perfectly fine now, except for this cursed arm.”
He pushed the blankets off of his arm, revealing bloody bandages covering his entire limb. Hermione let out a small gasp.
“Don’t worry, Hermione. I’ll be fine,” he assured her.
“What happened?” she asked.
“It was You-Know-Who’s fault,” Ginny answered, fuming.
“I’m okay, Gin,” Harry told her, reaching out his good arm to caress her face with a gentle hand. This seemed to consol her. She gave him a small smile and her cheeks reddened.
“When he tried to kill me, something strange happened,” Harry explained. “We were teleported to some strange realm. It almost seemed like we were floating. Every time he tried to curse me, his wand would glow for a few seconds and then nothing. It wasn’t working. I tried cursing him, and my wand backfired. My arm hasn’t been right since.”
“But… why?” Hermione asked. She couldn’t seem to think of a more intelligent question.
“I’d tell you why if I knew,” Harry continued. “It was all so strange. Next thing I knew, his wand flew out of his hand and into mine. I must’ve used Expelliarmus without knowing it. Once I had his wand, it grew warm in my hand, and lights were spitting from the end faster than I could blink. They circled him for a few seconds, and then they all fell down at him at the same time. I watched him screaming and trying to fight them off, but then he was dead. Just like that. Then everything went black, and I woke up here.”
“We’ve asked the Order, and they can’t figure it out,” Ginny informed Hermione.
“Maybe it was fate,” Hermione muttered sadly. If it was fate that Harry would defeat Voldemort, was it also fate that Draco had met his end?
Harry frowned and took Hermione’s hand in his. “Look at me,” he said softly. Hermione obeyed. “I don’t know what you saw in Mal – Draco, but you obviously cared about him, and if you need to talk, I’m here for you.”
“Really?” she asked in a small voice.
“Really,” Harry answered. “I heard he was the one who killed Bellatrix, so I suppose I owe him a lot.”
“Thank you,” she said. Ron didn’t seem too comfortable with this idea, but he kept his mouth shut. Hermione was glad he did.
“I hear they’re having the funerals Friday,” he mentioned. “We’ll go with you to Draco’s coffin, if you’d like.”
Ron opened his mouth to protest, but Ginny elbowed him hard in the chest. He groaned quietly and looked down at the ground.
“I’d like that,” Hermione admitted, smiling.
Harry nodded. “Now that that’s settled, why don’t you three go on outside. I don’t want to keep you cooped up inside when it’s so beautiful outside,” he told them.
“I’m staying with you,” Ginny said at once. There was no changing her mind, and Harry knew it. He beamed at her and she bent down to place a kiss on his cheek.
“Come on, Hermione. Let’s go,” Ron said. Hermione nodded and stood up to leave. Harry and Ginny needed some time alone, and she wasn’t about to stand in the way of love. Especially after all that had happened to her.
Time with a loved one was precious and limited. But in a way, that’s what made it so special – knowing that no one had all the time in the world.
Not even Draco.
Author’s Note: Okay, a lot was explained in this chapter. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. There is little else left to explain, and if you didn’t understand anything, I can probably provide an answer without giving anything away.
Reviews are appreciated. Thanks!
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