Having dismissed the meeting, Ron and I follow Rose and Scorpius down to the Atrium. Ginny’s news about the Honour Guard and what it’s capable of has rattled me; for the first time since I declared war three months ago I’m having flashbacks to the war against Voldemort, I’m seeing too many parallels between the Death Eaters and the Honour Guard. Memories of tents, of snatchers, of Horcruxes, of Dark Marks and darker magic come rushing back to me in a flood, and suddenly as I walk through the Ministry I’m an eighteen year old girl again, Polyjuiced and looking for Slytherin’s locket.
“You okay, Hermione?” Ron asks quietly. I must look obviously scared; it’s not like Ron to notice such things unless they’re staring him in the face. He’s always been like that.
“Just remembering, that’s all,” I reply dismissively. “Though…it’s not the same. I mean, they’re completely different situations, aren’t they? I shouldn’t be comparing them…or is it normal to compare them?”
“Just say it.”
“This. Comparing this and…Voldemort.”
“Well, for one, Harry’s not got us gallivanting around the countryside looking for bits of a Dark wizard’s soul.”
“Medea Avery’s been compared to Bellatrix Lestrange.” The name still sends a shiver down my spine. I never had anything to do with Voldemort. That was Harry’s domain. But Bellatrix…The thought of her still haunts me, above all. Of her manic cackling and a Cruciatus curse on the floor of Malfoy Manor.
“So we just gotta get her to fight Mum.”
An image of warm, homely Molly Weasley flashes across my mind. Warm, homely Molly Weasley who killed Bellatrix in the Great Hall during the battle. Voldemort’s best lieutenant against my mother-in-law. The thought sends a rush of hope through me, and I turn and plant a kiss on Ron’s lips.
“Ew, Mum, get a room,” Rose calls over her shoulder.
“What was that for?” Ron asks, looking surprised.
“For knowing what to say.”
Ron shrugs, looking pleased with himself as we reach the Floo network and Apparition area.
“See you…whenever,” Rose says.
I quickly give her a hug, followed by Ron.
“I’ll see you in McGonagall’s office,” Scorpius says, turning for the Floo.
Ron clears his throat, and Scorpius hesitates, turning to face him. I glance at Ron curiously; he’s staring very pointedly at the floor.
“Well,” he says awkwardly, “I’ll see you at the next meeting, Scorpius.”
Rose and I exchange glances; I’ve never heard him refer to either Draco or Scorpius as anything other than ‘that Malfoy git.’
Ron extends his hand, and a surprised looking Scorpius takes the proffered hand and shakes it. “See you, Mr Weasley.”
He turns and walks into the Floo, and Rose turns to Ron with an astonished look on her face.
“Oh, Dad!” She throws her arms around him, turns and vanishes into the Floo.
“Didn’t overdo it, did I?” he asks awkwardly.
“No, you didn’t,” I assure him.
“She just hugged me,” Ron says, still looking slightly bewildered. “All I did was shake his hand, you’d think I’d welcomed him into the family.”
“Little gestures, Ron.” I frown, looking at the Floo. “Did you hear her say Hogwarts?”
“Didn’t hear her say anything.”
“She fucking Apparated to Hogsmeade.”
I’m not sure whether the startled look Ron gives me is in reaction to the prospect of Rose in Hogsmeade, or me swearing. Either way, he grabs my hand and we Apparate just outside the Three Broomsticks.
“How did you know?” Ron asks quietly; Rose is casually strolling up the main street.
“Mothers know these things,” I reply. “She’s bored, she’s hardly been able to Apparate anywhere since she got her licence, she’s sick of using the Floo.”
We follow behind Rose closely, unseen by her, as she makes her way towards the road that leads to Hogwarts. As she leaves the cover of the Hogs Head building, a cloaked figure steps out from the shadows and raises a wand.
Before I can react, Ron’s bolted forward. I want to scream at him, scream at Rose, but no words come out.
“Avada Kedavra!” The terrifying call comes, the jet of green light streaking towards my daughter, and now I’m screaming without hearing, screaming as Ron reaches her, and in slow motion he crosses in front of her, arms splayed, his entire being glowing with light for the briefest of moments; for the briefest of moments there’s life in his eyes as they flicker towards me, fixated on mine even as the light inside them fades and he crumples to the dirt beneath him.
A terrifying wail rises inside me, and a primeval instinct forces me to my feet; I have eyes only for the figure, and as she steps forward and the weak winter sun hits her face I recognise her, Medea Avery; and with the recognition comes a wave of hatred and fury unlike any I’ve seen before, Medea Avery, she killed him, the love of my life, lying in the dirt at her feet; hatred and fury raise my wand in her direction; too late, she notices me and turns, her face crinkling with laughter at the sight of me—
Medea is caught, silhouetted against the green light, thrown to the ground, but I’ve already forgotten about her as I fall to my knees beside Ron, wishing, begging for him to wake up, please, please, Ron, I need you, I can’t live without you, no, no, no, no….
Clutching his lifeless hand, I crumple into a ball; the world has ended, my world has ended, I’ll never again look into his eyes, never again hear his voice, never again feel his hand brush mine as we walk, never again smile at his awkward confessions of love, never again, never again, you can’t be gone…
“I’m sorry,” Rose whispers hoarsely beside me, “Dad, I’m so, so sorry…”
Wordlessly I reach out and pull her close as she sobs uncontrollably into my shoulder.
A/N: I'm going on hiatus until the end of November because of exams, so this will be the last update for a while. Please leave a review and let me know what you think :)