Chapter 7 : The Last Row
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Hermione checked her wand again. With all we’ve been through, the fighting and the stress, this just can’t be possible and not this soon . . . But the wand didn’t lie. Then she whispered, “I’m sure.”
Ron was speechless.
“Ron, say something,” her eyes betrayed the desperation she was feeling.
Ron still couldn’t speak. He pulled Hermione into his arms and, with a great effort, forced his voice to convey what he was feeling. “I love you.”
Hermione let out the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. They held each other in silence for several moments.
Then Hermione pulled back and looked firmly into Ron’s eyes. “This doesn’t change anything,” she said with finality.
Ron was dumbstruck. “What?” sharp surprise evident in his voice. Then he managed to clear his head, “This changes everything.”
“Ron, he’s still out there. Someone’s got to stop him,” she chastised.
“But not us. Not now,” he nearly pleaded.
“Ronald Weasley, we are the only people left alive who know how to kill him. We have no choice,” she said sternly, almost channeling Molly.
Maybe it was that she sounded so like his mother that caused the redhead’s face to cloud over.
“You’re the only person left alive that matters to me! My entire family is dead! Now, we have a chance to have a family of our own and you tell me we don’t have a choice!”
Hermione snapped, “Don’t talk to me about family! My family doesn’t even remember I exist! I can’t even take the chance of trying to contact them to make sure they’re still alive!! And now, what do you want to do?! What, Ron, what?! Are we supposed to run away? Is that your solution?! Is that what you want to do, again?!”
Ron’s face turned fire red as tears of rage began to stream down his cheeks. “How can you . . ? After all this, does it still come back to that?! Are you blind woman?! Harry would be livid if he were alive to hear you talking like this!”
With that, Hermione was worked up into a pure fury. “Don’t you dare throw Harry in my face!” Her lower lip began to tremble as her own tears started to fall. “He knew what was important!”
“Damn right he did! But it looks like you’ve forgotten! The brilliant Miss Know-It-All forgot the most important lesson! Don’t you remember?! Harry all but threw Lupin out of the house when he started talking the same type of shit that you are now!!”
At the end of her emotional tether, Hermione finally broke down, weeping uncontrollably.
Her words had wounded him wickedly, but her tears . . . What have I done?
He pulled her into his arms and was relieved that she let him. Cradling her, he begged, “Oh gods, ‘Mione. Oh gods. I’m so sorry. Please. I’m sorry love. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I shouldn’t have said that. Please, please forgive me.”
The sobbing nearly choked out her voice, just as it threatened to break Ron’s heart. “No. You’re right,” she forced back the tears. “I just had to hear you say it. Oh, Ron, I’m so sorry . . . I’m so scared.”
“Don’t be. You’re parents are fine; I just know it. They’re safe.”
“I know they are. They’re safer than we are,” she said almost wistfully. Ron continued to hold her as she steadied herself.
Taking a breath, she pulled herself back to look at Ron, a small smile appeared through her fading tears. “I think this is the first of our rows you’ve ever won.”
“It’ll be our last, I promise.”
“Ronald Weasley,” she said with mock severity, “don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“Right.” Ron allowed himself a small grin. Then, peering meaningfully into her chocolate eyes, he knew he had to say it, “Hermione Granger, we’ll get through this and I promise you I will never leave you again.”
Her breath caught, “I never should have said that. I know better. I love you Ron. I love you so much.” The relief on Ron’s face was evident. Hermione placed her hand on his cheek and pressed her lips to his, ever so gently. He ran his hands into her hair and deepened the kiss, his tongue probing for hers. It was very reluctantly that they broke apart.
She composed herself. “We’ll have to find a way to leave the country,” she said wiping the few remaining tears on her sleeve.
“Let’s try to get a little sleep. We’ll talk about it later. I’ll take first watch.”
“Alright. But first let’s take care of that gash on your forehead.”
Later, their bodies still exhausted and aching despite the several hours of sleep, they tried to force down some food that Hermione had stashed in her handbag. As they sat eating in the loft, facing each other, they began to plan their next move.
“France,” Ron said, swallowing a mouthful of stale bread. “If we can get to Fleur’s family, we’ll be able to hold up, get settled and bide our time. Then we can finish what Harry started.”
Hermione nodded, and said, matter-of-factly, “Ron, we have to get to Dover.”
Ron nearly choked, “Dover? I’d rather kiss an Acromantula. ‘Mione, from what we heard that sounds like the absolute last place on earth we should go.”
“I think there’s more to it than what we heard on the wireless.”
Ron looked a question at her.
She continued, “I think Dover may be the weak point. This barrier sounds like it stops both the magical and the physical or at least physical things that are magical, but not muggles or muggle objects. So that makes it different than normal wards, maybe even a little fragile. With that many people trying to Apparate through it, it may have weakened.”
“Or it may be a trap,” Ron said. “Come to think of it, I don’t know if it’s really safe to trust anything that we heard on the wireless. Not after what we walked into.”
“They are a trap.”
“Wait. They? Which, the barrier or Dover? Or the wireless?” Ron was totally lost, “So what are you saying?”
“I think the Teeth may act like a funnel. Anyone trying to Disapparate out of the country, no matter where they are or where they’re planning on going, end up at Dover after they turn on the spot. The sheer numbers they described on the wireless just don’t make sense otherwise,” she said the last with a grim look on her face, “even accounting for the fact that the channel is narrowest there. It’s just a theory, and we do have to be skeptical of what we heard. But if I’m right, the repeated Apparations being channeled to that one point may have worn it thin.” She stopped, distractedly, staring at Ron’s forehead. “Merlin, Ron. That wound just won’t close.”
She took out the Dittany and began to mend the nasty gash on his forehead again.
“So, you think it’s a focus point?” Ron asked, slightly wincing as she tended to him. “Ow!”
“Sorry. Hold still. Yes, I do,” Hermione answered.
“That makes sense ‘Mione. It would be a convenient way of rounding up troublemakers like us. And they could concentrate most of their forces on just one part of the border.”
“But we need a way to test it.”
“Merlin, ‘Mione, I still don’t like it,” Ron said, shaking his head. “We’d be walking right into one of the most heavily guarded spots on the entire island.”
“Maybe not. The Death Eaters probably aren’t expecting people to purposely go there. At least not after that last broadcast. It could give us a chance. . .”
Suddenly alarmed, Ron held his finger to his lips. She followed his gaze out of the barn; a lone Death Eater had entered the clearing.
“I think I know a way to test your theory,” Ron whispered.
AN: I do not own Harry Potter. The toys belong to JKR; she just lets us play with them.
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by Mr Phoenix