Chapter 24 : Of Mommy Dearest
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“I just don't get how someone so young can be so serious…” Callum noted as he cocked his head to the side, his face the picture of bafflement. “He's only twenty-two or so. What the fuck?”
Harry chuckled as he took a sip, but the merry look was quickly replaced with one of utter repulsion. “Mate?”
“Please never buy me non-alcoholic beer again,” he pleaded, causing Callum to turn away from the game on the television before them to send Harry a look of pure appall.
“Well sorry for trying to be sensitive towards your wimpy ways.”
Harry laughed, rolling his eyes as he turned back to the ManU v. Liverpool game. “I was a fucking alcoholic you prat.”
“Oh please,” Callum scoffed. “Sometimes I drank what you drank in three days in one.”
“It really scares me how that actually somehow made sense to me,” Harry admitted. “And you weren't trying to get pissed, I'm just a wimp in comparison to you,” he grudgingly allowed.
“Right you are,” Callum nodded, satisfied. “Now, explain why Torres is such a morbid bloke, he's a striker for fuck's sake!” he shook his head in dismay as he crossed his arms over his chest. “This is why ManU is so much more fun than Liverpool, at least they don't look like they're attending a funeral.”
“Oh please, the only reason you even support the team is because of that Granger girl's adulation for it… and the only reason she loves the team so much is because her dad raised her to support them. It's hardly organic,” he shook his head in clear distaste.
“How did you know?”
Callum smirked. “You're quite chatty when you're drunk, let's just leave it at that.”
“Still, though, maybe before,” Harry admitted. “But now I actually do like the team. Gerrard and Torres make a great duo, better than Ronaldo and Rooney.”
“I'm just… I'm not going to have this conversation with you; I doubt I'll be able to remain your friend after it, I'm afraid.”
“Well if it isn't the beautiful and talented Miss Granger,” Suskind winked upon her entrance into his office. “Where's Potter?”
“He was pulled into some publicity event by Buckley.”
“I take it he wasn't too glad to send you here on your own then,” he grinned.
“Can't deny that one,” she smiled as she took a seat. “When are you finally going to tell him that you were being crude solely to goad him?”
“You went along with it, Hermione…”
She blushed, having the decency to bow her head in embarrassment. “I can't deny that it was a bit fun to rile him up like that,” she admitted, lightly biting her lip.
“I'll tell him next time, but if he tries to hit me, your lover boy won't be so pretty anymore,” he warned, but a warm smile never left his face as he spoke, regardless of how threatening the intent behind the words may have been.
She raised her chin, defiantly. “I don't know you well enough to comment on that. Anyway, I had a few questions.”
“About the case? You learned something new?” he asked with an excited little trill to his voice, one that Hermione found quite unpleasant to the ear, even if it was amusing.
“No,” she shook her head regretfully, repeating what Harry had asked of her. “It's about a cousin of mine… I've always been pretty close to her…”
“Don't know what I could do to help, but you're looking quite fetching so anything to keep you here longer,” he smiled, waving his hands in allowance for her to continue as he leaned back in his chair.
Hermione sighed, shaking her head with a small grin. “You're such an incorrigible rake.”
“So you've told me every time I tried to flirt with you. I don't know why you won't just give me a chance; you've known me for years… kind of. Still, all of those lovely medical conventions where I'm your sole ally! Have you no respect for such a strong bond?”
“Not really, no.”
He closed his eyes in exaggerated pain. “How you wound me, Granger!”
“Seriously, though, I do have to get back to work soon… what can you tell me about `dissocial personality disorder'?”
“What do you want to know? I mean I haven't ever worked with such a case so all I can give you are some text book definitions… if you'd like, though, I can refer you to—”
“No,” Hermione stopped him. “I'd rather not discuss this with many people when I could go to her. I just… I need an idea of what I'm dealing with here. What's going on with her?”
“Well… there are three primary classifications used in that. Creative, aggressive, and… um…” he paused massaging his neck as he got lost in thought for a second. “Inadequate.”
“Don't sound so sure there,” Hermione winced.
“You'd be better off going to a text book,” he grinned sheepishly. “Never had a chance to work on those kinds of cases. But the gist of it is that what's really crucial about it is how people with this kind of an issue are generally marked by a proneness to either blame others or find some plausible rationalization for any form of misconduct. They're also said to have an incredibly low threshold for aggression so they can be incredibly dangerous. It's all really muddled and dodgy. The general consensus is that they're actually incapable of ever being aided towards proper healing because of an incapability to ever experience guilt. I mean… the culmination is pretty catastrophic. They'll never see anything wrong with their actions, no matter what they do one of these facets of the illness will deflect for them.”
Hermione's lips thinned as she listened to him. “So… how would they ever be allowed out of a psych ward if they're such a possible threat?”
“Well, in the wizarding world at least, they wouldn't… not unless it was discovered that the prognosis was wrong and they were re-diagnosed. I mean, it's entirely possible for a diagnosis to be wrong, the mind's such a tricky thing and all…”
“Mmm,” Hermione hummed, pausing to think. “She's about to go into treatment, in the muggle world…”
“Well I can check out regulations in the muggle world if you'd like?”
Hermione weakly smiled, shaking her head. “No, that's okay… I can do that much on my own, at least.”
A sudden beep from her WiziCell quickly pulled Hermione from her thoughts as she took out her phone and saw a message notification. It was from Harry, and abrupt: “Meet me, ASAP, in my office. Aid saw something.”
“So even the loony bin rejected you?” Callum quipped with a teasing smirk as the two later sat at Harry's dinner table, enjoying some fish and chips that they'd ordered in.
“Apparently,” Harry grunted.
“If I were your lady love I'd tell you not to grunt because it's rude,” Callum tutted.
“If I weren't such a gentleman, I'd kick you.”
“Good to know.”
“I kind of miss going, is that weird?” Harry couldn't help, but ask between sips of his soda.
Callum shrugged, swallowing a chip. “How the hell should I know? Whatever works for you, though, right? I mean, fuck what everyone else thinks, if you miss him then who should fault you for that? Just means you're a loony is all…”
“Ah, but I got rejected, remember?”
“Eh, everyone makes mistakes, clearly they messed up in your evaluation. I mean, I just have to look at you to see all of the fucked up…” Callum grinned.
Harry chuckled. “Hermione and Ron broke up.”
Harry nodded. “Yep,” he sighed.
“And… is there a particular reason for mentioning that?” Callum goaded.
“Andersen says that if I never do anything, nothing will ever change.”
“Well, that's true…” Callum nodded. “But I'm not your shrink, mate, and the whole point of not going to one another was so that maybe you'd solve your own problems. Don't ask me for my opinion, do whatever the fuck you want to do.”
“But… I don't know what I'll do or if I should even do anything. Doesn't seem right.”
Hermione stared down at the paper, utterly dumbfounded, as Harry drove. “Are you sure though?”
“Hermione, it's over a million galleons deposited into the White family bank account soon after Andrea was shipped off to the psych ward. What else am I supposed to think?”
“But what… what kind of parent does something like that?”
Harry shrugged. “The greedy kind?”
“I… I just can't believe it, it's all… it's downright terrible. Loathsome…” Hermione frowned, leaning her head against the window, tracing patterns into the door.
“Yeah…” he softly agreed.
“You know, Harry, I never asked, but why do you drive?”
He shrugged. “I like it, it's relaxing. Besides, I thought it might be nice to get some time with you in between all of this drama.”
Hermione turned towards him. “Only to have it follow us into the car, huh?”
Harry grinned. “You win some, you lose some… and here we are…” he commented as he pulled into a long driveway.
“Did you call?”
“But what if—?”
“I don't know,” he cut her off, sending her a smarmy grin; well aware of how much she'd hate it. Harry made his way to the other side of the door and helped Hermione out. “Come on,” he held her hand in his as he led the way towards the door, knocking immediately.
A woman was quick to answer. She paused for a minute at the sight of the two of them, cocking her head to the side in sheer befuddlement. “You… you're Harry Potter?!” she finally announced in wide-eyed shock, her words rushed and scrambled.
“Hi,” Harry greeted her with a charming smile. “And yes, I'm Harry Potter… of the Auror Department and this is my partner, Hermione Granger,” he flashed her his identification and motioned towards Hermione. “I was hoping to be able to get a quick word in with Mrs. White.”
“Um yes, of course, this is she,” she said before wincing at her reply. “I meant to say I'm Mrs. White… Helen White, to be exact. It's such a pleasure to meet you,” she said as she urged them in, leading them towards the sitting room. “Is there anything I can get you?”
“Oh no, not for me,” Hermione shook her head.
“Me neither,” Harry smiled. “I just need to go over a few questions and statements, if you don't mind?”
Her eyes widened even further. “Am I in trouble?”
“Not necessarily, just some routine factual checks that are related to a case of ours.”
She seemed to regain calm, letting out a deep breath as she said, “oh, of course. I understand.”
“I've recently been looking into the death of you daughter—”
Her back stiffened as she tightly asked: “why would you need to do something like that?”
“There have been a string of murders that have been related to her rape, mam,” Hermione explained.
“Well,” she blinked rapidly, floundering a bit. “None of that was ever even proven, it's quite well known that my daughter was a bit… sick.”
“We have enough proof,” Harry confidently informed her. “Including this,” he placed a pile of bank statements before her.
She curiously picked up the papers, rifling through them. Her lips thinned more and more as she took in each word before her. “I… I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove.”
Hermione sent her an understanding smile; one that Harry knew to be faux and lethal, despite what appearances might have Helen believe. “Mam, we're both a bit strapped for time and it really would be better for your sake if you didn't impede upon an investigation as then we might have to actually further look into this… and that could get… problematic for you if it drew as much attention as I believe it would.”
“We simply need to know which of the families gave it to you and why you agreed. What's done is done, your daughter is dead, it's not as if actually beginning an investigation into this would help any party,” Harry further explained.
She let out a deep breath; her cheeks puffing a bit as she begrudgingly complied. “I honestly don't see how this is at all related,” she argued.
“Well we believe it is, so we'd really appreciate it if you just told us,” Harry tartly retorted.
She frowned, pausing before answering. “It… it was the McMullans. After the case had finished and we received the results, found out that Andrea was sent off to a bloody psych ward!” she threw her hands up in exasperations. “Well I had to confront them. So… I went to his office… I stormed in, actually,” she admitted with a bitter laugh. “His secretary was chasing after me, but she couldn't stop me. I don't even know what I hoped to achieve then, but I demanded that he stop lying, that he stop accusing my daughter of… well what they were all letting their lawyers say. I told him I would take the entire thing public, I wouldn't let the case be out of the paparazzo's eye, I threatened them with utter ruination. And… and do you know what he did? He just looked at me… stared for a minute before he opened up his drawer and took out a checkbook. He asked me how much I wanted. Just like that, any number… and I have three other kids to think about as well… a future. We weren't going to win against them, I could hope however much I wanted to, but it wouldn't really make a difference. Either way Andrea would be stuck in that hellhole, so I thought… well, why lose everything, right?”
Harry paused, sighing before asking, “and then you cut off contact with Andrea?”
She nodded, a stray tear making its way from her glistening eyes and training down her cheek. “It may have been the smart thing to do, but it doesn't mean it was the right thing, even I could see that. I couldn't bear the guilt, couldn't continue on some faux sort of contact. She deserved better, at least with that.”
Harry mutely nodded. “I think that that's all for now. Would you mind if we contact you again, should we have more questions?”
“No,” she let out in a defeated whisper. “I understand… but… but you must see that it was the thing I had to do… for my family. Don't you?”
“I'm not in a position to comment,” Harry stiffly replied before grasping Hermione's hand and all, but pulling her out of that house.
“So you're not going to do anything?”
Harry shook his head, staring into his glass of water as if something miraculous was suddenly supposed to happen. Nothing did, so with a sigh he took a sip before replying. “Probably not.”
Callum let out a sardonic laugh, grimacing as he furiously shook his head. “You're ridiculous.”
Harry sat up a bit straighter at that proclamation, surprised. “Excuse me?”
“You're a useless and self-absorbed twat, Potter!” Callum very kindly informed him.
“And you're a dolt.”
Cal rolled his eyes, choosing to ignore that comment. “All you ever go on about is this self-deprecating story on how terrible your life is, but it's like your therapist said: you never make a move towards change. You never do anything. Even with that bloody Christina… she's a nice girl and you're kind of happy whenever you mention her, but come on, Harry! It's just another fucking noncommittal relationship. If you want something more then go for it. The sight of you is sickening after a while. It's as if you never learn!”
Harry gaped, his mouth opening and closing in a very fish like manner as he tried to recollect his thoughts. “But… but I'm trying, can't you see that?!”
“No, because you're not… not really. You stopped drinking and got the majority of your life in order, but as soon as it got to the point where you were supposed to fix what really mattered you just stopped. You're a fucking disgrace! You can spew on all you want about anything you've achieved or anything that's stopping you, but it's all a lie. You're just a bloody farce of a hero and I'm so sick of it. I'm tired of you and your useless crying. I'm tired of your idiocy,” Callum spat.
Harry's jaw went slack. “Well then leave!” Harry roared. “If I'm too pathetic for you… well then you know where the fucking door is. Just go!”
“Fine,” Callum replied through gritted teeth before storming out, leaving an utterly dumbfounded Harry in his wake.
“Oh, Hermione, dear!” Molly squealed as she enveloped the girl into a tight embrace that left Hermione gasping for air. When Molly finally allowed Hermione to extract herself from the vice like grip it was merely for a second before Hermione was smothered by dozens of pecks that were littered across her face. “How great of you to finally join us, it's been so long!” Molly commented when finally finished, awe painted across her face as she made sure to comment on Hermione's recent absences from the Weasley's weekly dinners.
“Hello, Molly,” Hermione weakly greeted the Weasley matriarch, wishing she could be as excited about the dinner.
“Hi, Molly,” an overly chipper Harry cut in and Hermione had to control herself so as not to laugh at the faux cheer.
Molly, however, shocked both when she merely replied with the word “Harry” and a curt nod, before turning back and making her way to the kitchen, again.
Harry paused, moving his head to the side as his brows drew together in utter perplexity. “Did… did she just—?”
“Yeah… I think so,” Hermione nodded, just as thoroughly befuddled. “Maybe we should just go in?”
“I'm not so sure that I'm welcome after that cold greeting,” Harry chuckled.
“Well, I want you there, so she can just deal with it or I'm leaving,” Hermione brightly smiled before taking her hand in his, entwining their fingers, and leading him towards the common area.
Harry sighed as he let her lead him towards the chesterfield where Ron, Ginny, and Neville were seated. “So Molly seems quite pestered by my presence, anyone have any idea why?”
“Fucking hell!” Ron groaned. “She already got to you?!”
Hermione's eyes snapped onto her friend and as immediately turned on him. “Ron, what did you do this time?”
He sent her a sheepishly apologetic look. “I may have told her about you two.”
Hermione immediately let out a miserable groan. “Why would you do that? You knew that we wanted to keep it quiet for now. Did you even stop to think that we might be the ones who wanted to announce it?” she fumed.
“Well… it's just that, for ages already, she wouldn't stop telling me to go to you and get you to forgive me for mucking things up,” he fumbled as he explained, turning redder by the second.
Hermione groaned, grasping at her hair and tugging at it. “Merlin, that woman is so infuriating!”
Ginny shrugged. “Come on, Hermione, it's to be expected. She already lost the dream of Harry and me… you were her last hope. Besides, you were supposed to change Ron for the better—”
“Oi, I'm fine as I am!” Ron cut in, turning on Ginny with fury written all over his face.
Hermione merely laughed—it was a weak one, but an improvement nevertheless—as she let Harry pull her onto a chesterfield, slowly leaning her head against his shoulder. “On a scale of one to ten, how furious is she?”
“Innumerable,” Neville admitted with a grimace. “Gin here managed to goad me into coming early so that she could help mum prepare the dinner. Molly's spent the last four hours berating the situation… and Merlin knows how many more.”
“Well… I figured she wouldn't take it very well,” Harry admitted with a frown.
“But this is ridiculous, and I refuse to have to put up with it,” Hermione scowled, disentangling herself from Hurry's soft embrace before stampeding towards the kitchen.
“Things are about to get hellish,” Neville murmured.
Harry, eyebrows rose farther than he ever believed they would be, mutely nodded in agreement. “…Do you think—?”
“Don't even try!” Ron warned. “I've seen the battles between those two before, you don't want to be collateral damage, especially not this soon into the relationship!”
“And if there's one thing Ron knows, it's how to cock things up with Hermione,” Ginny chimed in. “Best to just wait.”
In a matter of minutes, Hermione's sudden roar was heard throughout the house “You self-serving, self-absorbed… urgh!” Quickly following was the sound of a crash.
“Don't worry,” Ginny chimed in, stopping Harry as he was halfway up to help Hermione. “It's just the cheap china, Hermione's always careful about that at least…”
“Well I'll say!” Molly's shrill shriek replied. “Here I am doing you the motherly service of trying to protect you and your heart—”
“Hah!” Hermione guffawed. “You are not my mother so stop trying to take her place, Molly. You have your own children; you can't always come first in everyone's heart, no matter how much you try to force your self into that role. You're not my bloody savior; I don't care what you think! I love him, you damn… damn… urgh!” Hermione shrieked before storming out of the kitchen and out the door, followed by a scrambling Harry.
“And there you thought things would change around here after she and I broke up,” Ron commented as he took a leisurely sip from his butterbeer.
“Your friend said that to you?” Andersen asked, utterly flabbergasted. “Your friend?” he repeated, annunciating the word with more care than was necessary as he tried to enforce the point that Callum was clearly failing in his role.
“Yeah,” Harry nodded.
“Well… that's quite a terrible thing to say, isn't it?”
Harry shrugged hopelessly. “I still can't help, but wonder if he was right. I mean he was callous, I know that… but he also likes to joke that his name is Callum because of the name's striking resemblance to that word.”
“Odd thing to joke about,” Andersen muttered. “And I'm not sure whether that suddenly makes it at all excusable, either.”
Harry laughed. “It's just like him to do odd things like that. Listen, Doc, I know you asked me to stop coming, but I wouldn't if there was anyone else I could talk to about this. You're the only one other than him who knows everything. I can't just go to Ron or Hermione about anything that involves my love life in any way.”
“It's okay, it's been a while,” Andersen smiled. “Plus, it's nice to see you out of my leather couch and in a normal place, Potter. I like this caf�, too,” he motioned towards their surroundings.
Harry smiled. “I've missed you.”
“But I mean… the issue is that I can't get his words out of my head. I don't feel like I gave up, but at the same time I wonder if I've led myself into believing that I haven't. It makes sense, what he said. I'm tired of fighting and I've stopped, but I think… I think I might be ruining myself by stopping. It… it might be premature.”
Andersen nodded. “Albeit terribly voiced, he told you what I've been trying to say for months, Harry. You're not happy, not really. You're content, and barely even that, and you feel the inadequacy… others can see it, too. It's your choice whether you want to continue moving, but you might want to consider how you could just lose everything if you don't… like you did with Callum.”
“So…” Harry finally intoned when he felt it was safe enough to speak, a good hour of aimless walking following the epic clash between Hermione and Molly.
“It's not that big of a deal, it's quite a common occurrence between Molly and I, especially while I was dating Ron. You know, it's really quite odd how I can simultaneously like and loath her…” Hermione noted.
Harry chortled. “That wasn't what I was going to comment on… I've heard of the battles between you and witnessed a few, too, need I remind you?”
“Oh,” Hermione blushed a deep red. “Um… then what were you going to comment on?”
Harry stopped, pulling Hermione so she stood face to face with him. He lowered his mouth to her ear, reveling in the way he felt her knees slightly buckle at the proximity. His voice turned hoarse as he whispered, “So you love me, huh?”
If possible her blush became even more potent as she let her head drop into the crook between his shoulder and neck. “Well I mean… yeah… it's not exactly the way I'd… I'd like you to find out… but yeah,” she rambled on as she let him pull her into a tight embrace, kissing the crown of her head.
“I love you, too, you know?” he spoke into her hair. “And in the way a best friend doesn't love a friend, but a woman who he fancies…”
She smiled as she let her head raise, a shy and wide smile plastered across her face. “Yeah?”
He grinned while nodding.
“Let's… let's go back to my place, I'm parched,” Hermione said before apparating the two, leaving them at her doorstep.
“I… I should probably go,” Harry said as she began rifling through her purse for her keys.
She stilled, stiffening the slightest bit. Her attention waned from her keys and moved onto Harry as she raised her head to look him in the eyes. “Come in… please?”
Harry ran a hand through his hair, ruffling it a bit. “I don't know if that'd be such a good idea, Hermione. If I go in there—”
“I know, and just maybe I'd like that… a lot even,” she blushed as she made the admission, watching his eyes turn from a forest green to a hue so dark it was shockingly close to black.
His voice was hoarse. “You… you'd better be sure about what you're say—”
Before he could finish, he was stopped by the hot feel of her lips upon his, her tongue making its way into his mouth, imploring, exploring. She had him taken aback for a moment and it took him a bit before he managed to recollect himself, but when he did she was left helpless as her purse fell to the floor as he pushed her against her door and her grip grew limp.
Luckily, however, the sound was enough to pull Harry back to reality as he pulled away, his face still centimeters away from her own as he softly rubbed her cheek with a hand, still breathing heavily. “We… we should find your keys. I know how much you'd hate it if your neighbors thought you were a scarlet woman or something.”
Hermione nibbled on her lip. “I'm starting to wonder if it'd be worth it, honestly,” she admitted as she pulled his face back down towards her.
Harry groaned at the feel of her lips against his and the sensual way in which her body molded against his own. He gulped, gasping for air as he wrenched himself away, entirely that time.
Hermione moaned at the loss, her head lolling back against the door. “Harry, why?!”
The sight of that was enough to leave him ready to burst. “I'm going to do this properly, I will…” he muttered determinedly as he dropped to the floor and scrambled to find her keys.
As Harry made his way to his door he reached for his wand at the sight of a shadow by it. It was hunched over, sitting by the frame, so he couldn't make out who it was… or maybe even what. As he got even closer, however, his grip weakened as he was struck by shock.
“Callum?” he whispered feeling a slight quiver throughout his body. He hadn't been expecting to ever see his friend again after receiving no contact in well over two months since Callum”s outburst.
Callum looked up, eyes bloodshot and, oddly enough, tear stained around the rims. “Harry,” he croaked as he tried to pull himself up. He was in such a poor state, so terribly drunk and… well Harry wasn't sure what else, but there was definitely something off with the air about him.
“Harry,” he sniffled, ramming into Hurry's body and pulling him into a tight hug. “I'm sorry… I'm so sorry… you're… you're my best mate, I… I didn't want to push you away. Not… not like everyone else. I love you, Harry. Please forgive me.”
Harry was dumbfounded by his words. Not so much the apology, but the realization of just how much he meant to Callum. Albeit close friends, he would never have imagined that he played such a poignant role in the man's life. As he retuned the hug he murmured: “of course, mate… always.”
Author's Note: this one definitely came about much faster than the last, thankfully! Hopefully I may have the same luck with the next one.
Please review, I'm not entirely sure about this one… and I'm also not sure if it's my nerves or the chapter, too, so comments would be appreciate to direct me in possibly revising this chapter. THANK YOU!
Thank you, again, to my wonderful beta: SEARCY!
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