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Chapter 20 : Of a Friendship
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“I was a selfish bastard for those years, you know…” Harry suddenly announced, breaking the comfortable silence that always seemed to take over them whenever they began a session.
Andersen shook his head with a tinge of disappointment, arguing: “But that epoch… it’s over, Harry, maybe it’s time that you forgive yourself for those missteps; allow yourself to finally move on.”
“But… I can’t… I wish I could, but I can’t.”
“And why not, Harry?” Andersen threw his head back in exasperation, rubbing his face with his hands as he tried to wrap his mind around the idea of the perpetual self-imposed misery before him.
Harry ducked his head, gritting his teeth as he tried to force out the words. “You… you weren’t there, you don’t see it.”
“Don’t see what?” Andersen cocked his head to the side, questioningly.
“The way he looks at me.”
Eyebrows shot up in surprise. “The best friend, you mean?”
“Best mate… Hermione’s the best friend, there’s a difference,” Harry rambled on a bit nonsensically. “But yeah, that’s the one.”
Andersen nodded his head in acquiescence for the former statement and sent a quizzical look for the latter, silently forcing Harry to elaborate.
“You… you don’t see the way he looks at me. I mean, yeah, we’re still mates, but he also still resents me for it all, I can see it and it hurts. I hate knowing that regardless of what I try or do, there’s no changing the past, there’s no way to mend that bridge.”
“I think you might be getting a little overdramatic there, Harry.”
Her let out a frustrated breath as he dragged a hand through his hair, roughly tugging on the strands. “You know what, Doc? I really hope that you’re right and I’m wrong this time… I honestly do.”
A knock sounded at Harry’s door and he immediately looked up to see a fidgeting Ron standing at the open doorway, leaning against the frame. “Hey… can we talk?” he asked, a slight nervousness to his tone as he spoke.
Harry nodded, silently motioning towards the empty seat in front of him as Ron entered and closed the door behind him.
“We need to talk… about Hermione.”
“Okay…” Harry slowly replied, not quite sure what to expect.
“I need you to understand something, mate… Hermione…” he paused as he let out a deep breath, resemblant almost of a blowfish as his cheeks expanded exponentially before he released the sigh. “She and I may have had a terrible history as kids, but she’s my best friend, Harry,” he slowly admitted, struggling with each word, his voice coming off almost strangled as he spoke. “Those few years… I practically hated you for a time. I hated how I’d have to sit up late into the night so often watching her cry over the fact that you’d lost yourself. I hated the way that you made her blame herself for not being able to help you, for making her hate herself because she couldn’t do anything. You put her through so much pain that I didn’t think I would ever be able to forgive you, but I did. You… you did exactly what she had always believed you would; you changed, again, but for the better. She never lost faith in you, even when I did… I was always there for you, but I wasn’t sure if you could pull yourself out of it after a while. She—she and her happiness mean the world to me, Harry… I love her more than anything else and, I swear, that if you hurt her you’ll mean nothing to me. She comes first, maybe she hasn’t always, but after everything we’ve been through she does now. You just… I only wanted you to know, you deserve to know the truth, I think, no point in having any fake pretenses here, yeah? Plus, I wanted you to see how lucky you are to have her and her faith…”
Harry was stunned into a stupor, he didn’t quite know how to reply to that so he simply sat there, staring at Ron. He tried to muster up the words for some reply, any, but he couldn’t.
Ron ducked his head, flushing. “I… I’m sorry, you know? I’m coming off as a total bastard, I know… I just—I get protective of her and after watching her stumble into our kitchen this morning wanted to be sure that-”
“That I won’t hurt her, again,” Harry croaked.
If possible, Ron turned even redder. “Yeah,” he embarrassedly confessed.
“I’m not the same person anymore, Ron,” Harry quietly told his friend.
Ron nodded slowly. “I know, but it’s easy to hurt a person without even realizing it… I should know that one more than anyone.”
Harry cracked a shadow of a smile. “I love her, Ron… truly, madly, deeply and all of that other cliché shit. I mean it, I promise.”
Ron nodded, a grin spreading across his face. “I’m glad, she loves you to, you know… in that way. She may not have realized it before, but she does… I can see it now, ever since you told me about your feelings…”
“And… and you’re okay with that?”
Ron let out a low chuckle. “We’ve been over for a long time and we both knew it, we just weren’t ready to let go yet. We knew it wasn’t going to be love of a lifetime ever since that proposal-”
“You didn’t tell me that,” Harry cut in, shock plastered all over his face as he looked up at Ron with wide eyes.
Ron shrugged. “We knew it, but we weren’t ready to face it yet, not after having been through so much together. We needed time to let go… to be ready to live without the other’s support. Makes me sound like a whipped little prick, doesn’t it?”
Harry laughed. “Yeah, a bit, I guess…”
“Eh, what can you do? She’s special like that, you know?”
“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “She really is.”
“Right…” Ron awkwardly shifted a bit before slapping his highs with both hands and hopping up and out of his chair. “I’m gonna go now since you probably have some… work to do…”
“I know it’s a very foreign concept to you,” Harry ribbed.
Ron chortled. “I do what I can to avoid it, but I hope you’re not-”
“It’s fine, really, I get it and I appreciate that you’re looking out for her.”
Ron sent him a disbelieving and slightly anxious look. “You sure? —Because I know I can come off as callous… and very often, Hermione makes sure to remind me of that on a daily basis…”
“Well you didn’t this time, seems as if her training is starting to set in.”
“Psh, either way you’re far more whipped than I am,” Ron waved him off before giving a small wave as he left the office.
“Do you ever regret saying no to him?” Harry suddenly asked one month following the disastrous proposal.
“God no,” Hermione laughed as she leaned her head on his shoulder and continued to watch the soft flickering of the fire before them. “Our relationship has never been better, actually.”
Harry sharply turned to face her, expression utterly befuddled. “Really?” he asked, disbelievingly.
“Yeah,” Hermione smiled, nodding slowly against his body. “There’s not any pressure anymore… plus, Molly is off his back which lifts a huge weight off his shoulders since you know the Weasley men are little bitches when it comes to her will…”
“Hermione,” he gasped in faux outrage. “How could you curse like that? And saying such rude things, too… tsk, tsk, tsk, naughty girl,” he teasingly waved his finger in front of her face.
Hermione giggled, blushing a bit. “But we both know it’s true, they are utterly hopeless when it comes to that overbearing woman, it’s ridiculous. Now that she’s breathing down my neck rather than his we’ve lost a lot of the tension and pressure over thoughts of the future. We’re just letting the pieces fall where they may…”
“Yeah, that’s just what you get with me,” she turned to face him so she could send him a cocky smile.
Harry turned his body to face her fully, grinning mischievously. “Why Ms. Granger are those the tell-tale signs of a pompous ego there? —Because, if so, I really should do something to get that under control.”
Her eyes widened as she caught on and she quickly moved to back away, stumbling as she walked backwards, trying to move as fast as she could out of his library. “Oh come on, Harry… we wouldn’t want to do anything drastic, would we?”
He merely cocked an eyebrow in reply and she quickly turned and ran for it, and he followed.
Just as Harry was about to take a bite of a blissful looking morsel of lasagna the distinct sound of “Bennie and the Jets” rang through the air and he was forced to, very reluctantly, drop his fork as he scrambled to find his cell phone. Two missed calls later, he finally found the cell and furrowed his brow at seeing a blocked number.
“Hello?” he tentatively asked.
“I had to call you three times before you were able to find that blasted shite, care to explain why?” Callum’s distinctly gruff accent greeted Harry.
“My desk is a bit messy and it was under all the piles of paper work,” he replied, referring to his mobile as he turned to searching for his lunch, which he had misplaced which searching for the phone.
“Well I wanted to call to tell you something.”
“What?” Harry distractedly asked.
“I have a name.”
Harry’s entire body stilled and he was left in a paralytic sort of shock after hearing those four words. Slowly he spoke: “you do?”
“Yeah, Andrea White, that’s the girl who was raped. I didn’t have time to pull much of a background check or anything, called you right away when I got the Intel. Do you need me to though? It won't be too difficult.”
“No, it’s okay,” Harry managed to breathe out. “I can take care of that, but… um, thank you.”
“It’s no problem, mate, just… keep me updated, please?”
“Yeah,” Harry nodded, not too sure why he bothered when Cal couldn’t even see the action, but he did nevertheless. “I’ll tell you as soon as we have more information, but for now I should call Hermione to tell her.”
“Okay, good luck, I’ll see you around?”
“Will do… and thanks, again,” Harry repeated, and the next sound he heard was a click before the dial tone sounded. He put down the phone and immediately went to search for a blank piece of parchment and a pen so he could write down the name before he forgot all the while failing to realize that his food had ended up on the floor from having been hit by a folder that he had thrown about while scurrying about in his searches.
“We don’t really hang out as much when Hermione’s not here, have you ever realized that?” Ron asked Harry one day over a spur of the moment lunch over their breaks when Hermione was away on yet another excavation trip.
“Hmm,” Harry hummed softly. “I guess you’re right, now that I think about it, actually.”
Ron frowned. “That’s weird, isn’t it? I mean before, as kids, it was usually you that kept us all tied together and now… well it’s Hermione now, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess it is.”
“What… what happened, Harry? Why do you think that changed, I mean you’re still my best mate… I still tell you everything, but why does Hermione need to be here for us to be as close as we can be? Why can’t we do that on our own?”
“I… I don’t know,” Harry honestly replied.
“I was thinking about it last night, Harry, and—and I don’t want us to be like that. You’re my best mate; we’ve been through so much together… I don’t want to lose you…”
“I don’t think that’s possible, Hermione would never allow it.”
“But that’s the problem, Harry, we shouldn’t ever allow it either,” Ron argued, his eyes wide and pleading, the fear throwing Harry off as he was struck with the reality that Ron honestly thought that their friendship was capable of falling to tatters.
“It won’t though, no matter what I’ll always be there for you and I trust that you will, too, for me. You stood by me last time, if we can get through that… well what can’t we get through…”
“Yeah… we got through that,” Ron’s frown deepened, as he nodded his head, not too believingly though, Harry noted. Quickly, though, Ron composed himself and a grimace no longer marred his face as a bright smile overtook it. “Thanks for that, Harry… I guess the prospect of the future and growing up and apart just scares me a bit at times, I needed this… thanks.”
“No problem, I’ll always be there for you,” Harry smiled in return.
“Okay, so I have a report with our names on it, a wondrous little thing that will probably call for an all-nighter, I’m afraid,” Harry announced as he barged into Hermione’s office without the slightest hint of warning before his booming proclamation.
Hermione sighed, picking her head up to send him a dirty look. “Can’t you see that I’m busy with another case right now?”
Harry raised a brow. “Is it about a relevant death?”
“As in has it happened within the past ten years… or even in this century?” Harry clarified before she had the chance to spew some bullshit or another.
“No,” she meekly admitted before closing the file and pushing it aside as he made himself comfortable on her couch and motioned for her to join him. “Still doesn’t mean you have the right to objectify my job with those condescending looks, though,” she grumbled as she made her way to the seat next to him.
Harry merely chuckled in reply as he handed her a copy of the file.
Hermione glanced down at the folder before her and sent a questioning look.
“Open it,” Harry ordered, and she followed. “That’s the girl,” he told her, his voice dying just a bit as he informed Hermione.
“Oh,” Hermione gasped, riveted by the picture that had been included in the file, touching it softly with a slight tremor of trepidation.
“I skimmed the file beforehand, I hope you don’t mind.”
“No… that’s fine,” she shook her head, but didn’t look up at him. “It’s so weird… almost surreal, t me. I’m used to working with bones, you know?… it’s odd… putting an actual face to it all like this. I mean… we do that, too, but not quite like this… not with cases like this, really… and I’m making no sense at all, am I?” she rambled as her cheeks turned a harsh red. “I just… it’s more real, I guess…”
Harry didn’t quite know what to say so he simply nodded in reply, not making a move to touch her, but letting her dictate what she needed as she let her body fall into his, her side leaning against his as her head fell against his shoulder an she took her free hand to wrap his arm around her waist.
“She looks very…”
“Small? Fragile?” Harry ventured.
“Yeah,” she breathed out. She took another deep breath to recollect herself before asking: “so who is she?”
“Andrea White. She was eighteen, muggleborn, taught in the Salem Academy in America, moved here after her exams and lived here for three months before being admitted to the St. Augustine psychiatric unit for mentally tortured witches and wizards-”
“An insane asylum?”
Harry shrugged. “I can’t get the details on the court case, as you know, but I’m guessing they used the insanity plea to brush off her case… I don’t know, but we can always find out.”
“So we can interview her?”
Harry paused. “No…”
“Harry, are you serious?” Hermione pushed away from him, turning in on him. “You’re not really going to allow more of this elitist bull to get in the way of the case, are you?! We finally know who she is and we can’t do anything, this is our main lead in the case, someone is avenging her or she’s the one doing the retribution! Either way, we need her.”
“It’s not that simple, though,” Harry tried to cut in, but Hermione didn’t give him the chance as she just continued ranting.
“It is that simple, though. You march up there and flash your pretty little badge and show your scar if you have to, and then-”
“Hermione,” he tried again, his voice gaining a severe edge as he struggled to get a word in.
she adamantly shook her head. “No, I wont put up with some innocent girl losing the chance to plead her case, defend herself—”
“For fuck's sake, she’s dead, Hermione!” Harry suddenly burst out, not having meant to yell it out. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you… it had nothing to do with me following protocol or anything,” he added, that time far more quietly, his tone embarrassed after his outburst.
Hermione blinked rapidly and successively as her jaw went slack. “W… what?” she stuttered.
He let out a deep breath. “She committed suicide after being there for five months, somehow managed to get up and onto the roof and then threw herself off of it,” Harry told her, his head ducked as he spoke.
“Oh,” was all she said as a silence befell them both. Finally though, a good five minutes later, she spoke again. “So… so what do we do now?”
“I talked to Buckley already, he told me to go and meet the psychiatrists and healers who were treating her, but he doesn’t want us to make an appointment just incase the families are keeping an eye out on the facility… you never know…”
“Yeah,” she nodded, not too sure what else to do.
“We go tomorrow, but for now we need to go through this file, see if it has anything we can sue since I only skimmed it. Any leads we can get would help, and I have her entire family’s history in my bag.”
She bit her lip lightly as she moved her hand reaching for his. He clasped it immediately and intertwined their fingers without a moment’s hesitation.
“Let’s get to it then, yeah?”
“Sure,” he nodded, trying to ignore her blatant trepidation and focus on the case.
author’s note: so finally getting somewhere with the case, thank god, and hopefully this chapter also explained a bit of the new dynamic between Harry, Ron, and Hermione… hopefully. Also I am sorry for the late turn out as I know that I promised to get it out in a week to some, but since I lost my notes on this story I did have to rewrite an outline of sorts for this story and also re-read some details on the murder since I forgot who is alive and who I’ve off’d, lol. There should, however, be about 6-7 more chapters in this story…
please review, I’m always happy o hear thoughts and/or suggestions.
Again, many thanks sent my beta’s, Searcy, way!
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