Someone was screaming her name, but the sound was distant -- far off. Her pain drowned it out, her terror drowned it out, her own screams drowned it out.
Ron!! Harry!! Please…Make her stop!! Please, please…
“What else did you take?” Bellatrix shrieked. “What else have you got? Tell me the truth or, I swear, I shall run you through with this knife!” *
Again, a strangled scream escaped from her tortured body. No more. Stop! Please.
“What else did you take, what else? ANSWER ME! CRUCIO!”*
Screams. Her own. And again, distantly, she heard her name shouted in an agonized painful howl.
Questions. The mad bint was screeching questions at her. The sword. She wants to know where we got the sword!
Her own voice was weak, almost foreign to her as she choked out that it was a fake. Merlin, please, let her believe me! Make her stop! Frank and Alice…how much did they endure? How much more…Her eyes fluttered open only to see Greyback, smiling as he licked his lips, watching her suffer as though it were an appetizer before a banquet. Bellatrix’s wand rose again. Again the searing pain.
Ron! Oh, Ron! Please…
“And I think we can dispose of the Mudblood,” Bellatrix hissed. “Greyback, take her if you want her.”*
Slowly the werewolf closed in on her, gnashing his teeth. Desperately, she tried to move away from him. Every ounce of will she had left she tried to pour into her legs, to run, to escape. Can’t move!
Greyback continued his advance. “Tasty Mudblood. This will take a while. I promise.”
Hermione came awake with a start, her body drenched in sweat as the tears cascaded down her cheeks. Frantically, she pulled her knees to her chest as she shook. Her sweat-soaked hair lay matted into her face. She didn’t know where she was. With a shaking hand, she instinctively reached out to the far side of the bed. Her hand fell on cold sheets.
“R-ron?” she sobbed.
The door to the bedroom flew open.
Hermione let loose an ear piercing scream that sliced through the night like Gryffindor’s sword. Frantically, she reached for the wand by her nightstand. Bellatrix’s wand.
“Oh, dear! Hermione! It’s me!”
“M-molly?” she asked through terrified tears.
Molly Weasley closed the distance to the brown-haired witch in a flash, scooping her into a firm hug, rocking her. “Shhh. Just a dream. Just a bad dream. You’re at the Burrow. You’re safe.”
Hermione tried to form the words through anguished sobs, “…it was Bellatrix…” Then she collapsed back into Molly’s shoulder, weeping.
Molly hugged her even tighter, gently rubbing her back as she tried to sooth her. “No. She’s gone. She can’t hurt you anymore.” Molly tried to stifle her own emotions and focus on calming Hermione. But, in the back of her mind that nagging voice reminded her that she’d promised that Bellatrix would never hurt any of her children again. My children; though I share this brilliant child with her parents, she’s still one of mine. And that evil bint LeStrange is still torturing her from beyond the grave! It was times like these that Molly desperately wished she could dig Bellatrix up and kill her all over again.
“W-where’s Ron?” Hermione sobbed as she clung to Molly.
“With Harry, dear. He’s with Harry, training with Kingsley. Remember?”
Slowly, Hermione began to settle as the disorientation from her nightmare started to fade.
The last few months had been hard, the hardest Molly had ever faced. Burying her son, healing her family, comforting them after their nightmares, even healing herself had all taken a heavy toll. Slowly, she’d felt they were all starting to mend, now, three months after the Battle of Hogwarts. But then there were nights like tonight…
“Come on, dear. Let’s get a cup of tea. Yes?”
Hermione nodded as she tried to catch her breath. “Molly…I’m so sorry I woke you.”
Molly chuckled a bit. “Nonsense, dear! I hadn’t fallen asleep yet. I never sleep easily when Arthur’s away.” Arthur and Ginny had gone to Holyhead for the weekend to watch the Harpies play – an early present for Ginny’s 17th birthday.
Hermione was about to say she had the same problem when Ron was gone, but bit her tongue. Then, she caught a small smile on Molly’s face and a slight twinkle in her eye. Surely she doesn’t know Ron and I…We use Muffliato on the door every night! Just as quickly, Molly’s smile faded and Hermione convinced herself that their secret was still safe.
“Tea. Come, now.” Molly gently eased Hermione out of the bed and the two witches made their way down the stairs to the kitchen, the older witch’s arm still wrapped firmly, but gently around the younger’s shoulders. Hermione was still shaking. “A spot of tea works wonders, dear.”
With a flick of her wand, Molly set the kettle to steeping as they both settled into chairs around the scrubbed oak table. Molly’s eyes fell to Hermione’s right hand – the brown-haired witch had a death grip on the wand. Bellatrix’s wand.
She followed Molly’s glance. Hermione hadn’t realized she’d taken it with her from the bedroom. With trembling fingers, she let it slip to the table. “Sorry. I…”
“No need to apologize.” Molly gently took her hand in hers. “It’s been difficult. I know.”
Hermione let out a breath. “I really thought I was getting better, but…”
Molly smiled warmly. “It takes time, dear. We’re all still dealing with the past.” She tried not to let her mind dwell on Fred. No time for that. Focus on the child that needs you, not the one you lost. “And…it’s harder for you with Ronnie gone, isn’t it?”
It had always been Ron who had comforted her and driven the terror away whenever this recurring nightmare tormented her. But, she couldn't let Molly know that Harry'd been Apparating to Ginny's room and she to Ron's every night for the past few months. Cautiously, Hermione nodded.
“The four of you seem to shore each other up.” Molly levitated the tea pot over to the table and poured out. “It’s not the same for you when you’re apart.”
“Yes,” Hermione answered, her eyes dropping to her cup. “Ron…He’s…” She couldn’t quite find the words.
Molly sighed, a small smile crossing her face. “You love him quite a bit, don’t you?”
Hermione smiled as a flush rose to her cheeks. Then it came out in a rush, before she could stop herself. “I do, Molly. He’s infuriating at times, but I can’t imagine life without him.”
Molly patted Hermione’s hand. “And that makes him a very lucky wizard.” Getting her to think about my Ronnie is the best cure for what’s ailing her. My Ronnie? That’s not quite right. He’s her Ron, now. But, it’s for the best…Molly’s eyes dropped back to the wand.
Once again, Hermione followed her gaze and then, almost in a whisper, “I heard Ollivanders is reopening this weekend.”
Molly fixed her with a penetrating look. “Yes, I heard that, too.”
Hermione sipped her tea, not meeting Molly’s eyes.
“But,” Molly began, “of course, I can’t imagine that he’d make you wait for the shop to reopen. Surely, he would’ve already made you a new wand if you’d asked.”
“But you haven’t asked him. Have you, dear?”
The brown-haired witch shook her head, slowly. “No. No, I haven’t.”
“And why do you think that is?”
Hermione hesitated as she tried to find an answer. In the days following the Battle of Hogwarts, Kingsley and the few remaining Aurors had searched Malfoy Manor from top to bottom in preparation for the trials that were soon to take place. All the while, he’d kept an eye out for Hermione’s wand and never found it. He’d even let she, Ron and Harry have a go at searching the Manor, to no avail. She’d finally given up, deciding that finding her parents was more important. Since she and Ron had returned from Australia, there just always seemed to be more important things to do than have a new wand made: reconnecting with her parents and bringing them into the Weasley fold, attending the memorials and funerals, spending time with Harry, Ginny and especially her Ron. But the question remained, why?
No one had asked her that before now. Ron seemed about to bring it up once, but she’d furrowed her brow at him before the question could escape his lips. One day he’ll ask. Probably to distract me from something else more important. Until then, I’ll keep putting him off. But, Molly wasn’t so easily dealt with.
“I…I don’t know.”
For the first time in her life, Molly gave Hermione a look she’d reserved for her children only when they’d been at their worst. “Hermione Granger, you are the brightest witch of your age. Don’t tell me you don’t know why.”
“I wanted to get rid of it,” Hermione hissed, shaking her head as she looked down at the narrow piece of walnut laying on the table before her. “I hate it! The things she’s done with it...the Longbottoms, Sirius…”
“It’s not what she did to them, dear,” Molly interrupted as tears began to flood her eyes. “Is it, now?”
Hermione’s own tears spilled, silently over her cheeks. “N-no.”
Molly gripped Hermione’s hand tighter. “You don’t have to be scared anymore. She’s gone. You’re surrounded by people you love and who love you back.” She gently stroked Hermione’s cheek. It has to be said: “And you don’t have to worry about how well the wand has worked for you since that monster died.”
Hermione’s tears began to fall in earnest. “But what can that mean?! The wand chooses the witch! I’ve researched it. And I’ve researched her! She was powerful, determined…They called her the brightest witch of her age…”
Finally, it’s out, Molly thought with a heavy sigh. It was a hard lesson, but she’d mended too many hurts not to know that the poison had to be drawn out of the wound before it could properly heal.
Molly walked around the table and sat down next to the brown-haired witch, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her into her shoulder. “Hermione, dear, no matter what happens with you and Ron, you know I’ll always think of you as one of my own, yes?”
Hermione nodded, her tears soaking Molly’s nightgown.
“And you know why that is? It’s because you’ve got the heart of a Weasley. You could never, never become like her. You’re one of us. You always will be, you, Harry, even your lovely parents. This isn’t something you can learn in a book; it’s something you have to know in your soul. But if some part of you still has doubts, if some part of you still has worries, keep the wand. Keep it as a reminder of all we’ve sacrificed. Keep it as a warning to yourself to stay on the straight and narrow. But most of all, keep it because it’s yours. It hasn’t belonged to her for months now.”
Molly continued to gently rock her. “But you already know all of that, don’t you, dear?”
Slowly, Hermione pulled back from Molly, truly amazed at how the Weasley Matriarch had been able to read her so clearly. “How did you know?”
Molly couldn’t stifle a small chuckle. “I should say magic. That’s what Charlie always used to think; he was my first real troublemaker. Bill was always so well-behaved…” Then she got a far away look in her eyes. “Dear, I have a feeling someday you’ll be raising Weasleys.”
Hermione felt her stomach flutter at the comment, but then she realized the prospect warmed her.
Molly shot her a knowing smile. “That will be very challenging, trust me. But I know you’ll be up to it if you trust your feelings.” Molly tucked a stray strand of Hermione’s hair behind her ear. “So, how did I know? I knew the same way you did: I felt it.” Then she hugged Hermione again. “You just have to trust that feeling, dear.”
Hermione felt the tension finally leave her shoulders as she returned the embrace. It was at that moment that Molly was certain the younger witch’s worry had finally begun to ease.
“Can you sleep now?”
Hermione let out a cleansing breathe. “Yes. I think I can. Thank you, Molly.”
“No need for that. You’re family. That’s what we do for each other and I know you know that too.”
Hermione smiled as the two witches stood to make their way back upstairs. But, before she left the kitchen, Hermione took her wand with her. Hermione's Wand.
AN: *Quotes from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pages 465, 466, 472 (Scholastic, Inc., 2007). I do not own Harry Potter. The toys belong to JKR; she just lets us play with them!
Special thank yous are owed to siledubhghlase for betaing and Georgia Weasley for making sure I’m ToS compliant. Ladies, you’re the best!
Folks. this is the first of what I hope will be many one shots/short stories covering things in the Crusadiverse that I’ve always wanted to write, but hadn’t had the time to address until now. For those of you who haven’t read any of my tales, you should know that this one shot is part of a universe of stories that are all finished and posted. Of the Post Hogwarts fic, this one shot comes first, taking place in July 1998, although a missing moment from HPB kicks things off. Here’s the complete chronology of the Crusadiverse, to date (updated August 11, 2011):
1996 - Fall - "More Skill Than Luck " - one shot - posted as Chapter 87 of "Phoenix in the Ashes," site-wide collaboration. It's in my favorites.
1998 – July – “Hermione’s Wand” – one shot - posted as Chapter 1 of "Tales from the Crusadiverse"
1999- August – “Journey of a Thousand Miles” – one shot - posted as Chapter 1 of "The Staffer's Choice Awards," a Prefect's Collaboration. It's in my favorites.
2000 – August – “The Battle of the Pitch” (main story line) – short story – posted
2000 – November – “The Adventures of Reckless Git and Danger Ponce” – short story – posted as Chapters 2-4 of "Tales from the Crusadiverse"
2002 – Spring – "Best Laid Plans," -one shot; and “The Proposal” – short story – both posted.
2002 – Early Summer – “The Tipping Point” – short story - posted as Chapters 5-7 of "Tales from the Crusadiverse.".
2002 – Summer – “Children’s Crusade”- novel – sequel to “Stop All The Clocks” – posted
2003 – December – “The Gift”- one shot - posted as Chapter 30 of "The Final Battle," site-wide collaboration. It's in my favorites.
2004 – May – “The Battle of the Pitch” (introductory story line) – posted
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