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Chapter 8 : Cold Stone. Cold Eyes.
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The two lovers ran from the seventh floor covered in sweat, fear in their eyes. Hermione sprinted towards a dueling Ron, unable to release Fred’s clammy fingers. He pulled her into his chest.
“Now is the time that we must part. You have a duty and I shall do my best to protect you. Every spell I cast is in favor of you, so that you may walk away from this horrible place and return only as a student. We will meet again, once the Dark Lord has been vanquished. Okay?”
Hermione nodded, a tear falling down her dirt sodden cheek.
“Meet with me, in the room of our pleasures. Escape from the victorious so that I may place a ring on your finger. I am going to marry you Hermione Jean. You will be my wife. I promise!” He gently squeezed her hand then ran off in the opposite direction.
“Stupify!” Hermione shot the Death Eater Ron had been dueling out cold. “where have you been?” she asked.
“I lost you when the staircase blew apart! C’mon. We need to find Harry before he does something stupid.”
“Here. Take some of these.” Hermione said pulling basilisk fangs out of her handbag. “I think I hear him. Sounds like Aberforth’s yelling at him. Hurry!”
Harry nearly ran into them as they were about to round the corner.
Harry looked as bewildered as they.
They discussed the happenings of their absence, leaving out the separation part. Hermione felt slightly guilty for not filling them in on her whereabouts, but the middle of a battle was not the time to tell secrets, especially when one of the trio is in love with the girl who just lost her virginity to his older brother.
Hermione froze as she heard Fred’s voice bouncing through the corridor. Her heart pounded through her chest. Fred and Percy were dueling Death Eaters. They had gotten into the castle. Harry and Ron bound past her, and she too, snapping back to reality, followed in their wake.
Everything around Hermione exploded. Her eyes were wrenched away from her lover, who had been glowing with pure joy.
Harry yanked Hermione off the ground. She was unable to take her eyes off the huddle of red headed men. From a distance she could hear Percy screaming. Her body went into shock and her insides threatened to penetrate the surface of her skin.
Fred was gone. He would never put that ring on her finger. She stared at him. She could see the bulge in his breast pocket. She knew he was never joking. He was serious. He had always intended to marry her and now he never would.
She waited until Harry yanked Ron off Fred and ran away from the wreckage. Hermione knelt down beside Percy who was still clinging to the front of Fred's robes. She looked at him, knowing he'd understand. He nodded then pulled the small white box out of Fred's pocket and handed it to Hermione. She closed her hand around the box, unable to look inside. Instead she stared into Fred's cold, glass eyes.
"He'd want you to have it," Percy's voice dropped down a key, "Hermione, no one can know. Do you understand me?"
She nodded, knowing it would bring pain to their family.
Hermione continued down the cobbled street, her fingers clasped around the cold ring in the pocket of her cloak. She would never be able to forget those eyes. The moment that stole her future.
Bells jingled as she walked through the front door of the twins' shop. She could hear giggling somewhere nearby and knew that leaving Titus with George was a great idea.
“Hello, ‘Mione!” George exclaimed, wearing an ear to ear grin.
“Hello, George. And helloo Big Boy!” she said, smiling at Titus, who was bouncing happily in George’s arms. “Thank you so much for watching him.”
"It was my pleasure. It's almost like having Fred around."
Hermione froze, her stomach dropping. He couldn't know? There was no way for him to know... Right? Hermione thought to herself.
“Don’t get your wand in a knot, Hermione. I’m not going to break down and fall into a deep depression every time his name is mentioned. This little guy is actually helping me deal with it. Aren’t you?” George joked, rubbing Titus’s head. “He reminds me so much of Fred. Pretty soon we’re going to have a new little Fred Weasley running around wreaking havoc!”
“Oh great! As if I want my son to be anything like his uncle!” Hermione played along with a grin, still tense and on edge.
“Don’t deny it, ‘Mione! You secretly loved ole Freddie.”
“Oh, you don’t know the half of it,” Hermione bantered, taking Titus from George’s arms.
“See you tomorrow. Don’t deny me my new friend!” George shouted as she headed for the door.
“That I certainly won’t. Until tomorrow!” with that, she left.
The scorching beads of water beat down on her cold skin, leaving pink specks on the porcelain surface. The filtered water mixed with the salt that covered her face. It washed away the remnants of hours of crying. Sitting and staring at her baby boy, letting the tears flow endlessly, as he watched her, observed her, confused. She hadn't been sobbing. No, that would've scared Titus. Just simply crying. Letting her emotions escape her body in the form of salty droplets of water.
The hot water did not wash away her sorrow as she had hoped. Instead, she sat with her head leaning against the cold stone, numb to the burning sensation pounding on her shoulders. The pain of her raw skin distracted from the confusion of her heart. Of all the riddles Hermione Granger had solved, the riddle of the broken life of Hermione Weasley seemed like a task impossible to defeat.
She sat wallowing in the depth of her destroyed love. Her heart had been rent apart too often. She knew what was happening miles away. She knew her husband never felt any true affection for her. And she knew, somewhere deep in the back of her mind, that Luna also knew. Luna knew on some crazy notion. Some completely insane understanding of the way people worked had told this fiercely intuitive girl that Hermione Granger had married the wrong Weasley. Luna had this insane theory that the only thing worth living for was her ten month old son, and if it weren’t for him, Hermione would’ve fallen long ago. That fact that Luna knew all this frightened Hermione. She felt violated. Luna had breached the security of her mind.
Luna had breached the security of her mind.
Luna had breached the security of her mind!
Hermione’s eyes flew open with the sudden revelation. She slammed her palm against the water valve, shutting of the sanctuary off her pain. Luna had breached the security of her mind.. Luna. Of all people, Loony sodding Lovegood.
Hermione yanked the emerald towel off its post and wrapped it around her body. With a loud pop, she was gone.
Ginny woke with a start after hearing the sound of displaced air. Looking in the general direction of the noise, she saw a blurry figure that shouldn’t have been there.
“Ginny!” she heard the familiar voice shout.
She blinked a few times, trying to gain focus. Standing at the foot of her bed was a soaking Hermione Weasley, wearing nothing but a bath towel.
“Hermione! What the hell are you doing here? It’s three in the morning!” Ginny moaned angrily. “And what happened to your clothes? You’re dripping all over my carpet! This better be important!”
“Luna!” Hermione began.
“What about her? Are you finally starting to regret leaving Ron now that he’s almost happy?”
Hermione flinched a little bit and noted never to wake Ginny again. The girl knew how to hit someone where it hurt.
“Luna is a legillamens! Thats how she always knows everything we try to hide from her!”
“So it’s true? How come no one ever told me?”
“Because it’s irrelevant!” Ginny yelled. “Now tell me why you are rudely aparating into my bloody apartment at three in the sodding morning!”
“There is something I need to tell you.” Hermione confessed, suddenly fascinated by the baby pink polish on her toes.
“If you’re going to try and tell me something else obvious and irrelevant like my hair is red then–”
“I slept with your brother!” Hermione shouted, cutting Ginny off.
“Well I hope so! You are married to him after all and have a child together.” Ginny said coldly.
“I’m not talking about my husband. Before him.” Hermione said, ashamed.
“Well then, no wonder Ron is so hung up on you!”
Ginny stared at Hermione dumbfounded. “I have six brothers. You are telling me that you have had relations with half of them?”
Hermione continued to stare at her feet.
“Who?” Hermione felt the anger that Ginny made no attempt to conceal hit her with a wave of guilt.
Hermione said nothing, afraid of the fiery redhead sitting in front of her.
Hermione shook her head.
“Bill would never sleep with you. You are dirt compared to Phlegm.”
Ginny’s sudden hatred for her sister-in-law sent stabbing pains through Hermione’s stomach.
"Please don't tell me it's Percy. I was always afraid of you too hitting it off." Still nothing from the bushy haired girl.
Hermione’s black eyes shot up to meet Ginny’s shocked ones as the angry woman gasped. She barely mouthed the word “Fred?”
Hermione nodded, a single tear falling from her face, leaving a dark spot on Ginny’s gold blanket. Ginny stared at her, her face clear of any emotion. Over the years Hermione had learned that an emotionless Weasley was far from good.
Hermione twirled her wand, conjuring up a stone basin. She lightly placed the tip of the wand to her head and pulled it away slowly, a silver thread following in its wake. She let the memory fall into the basin just before it floated over to Ginny.
“I don’t want to watch you have sex with my dead brother.” Ginny said dryly, looking at the basin levitating over her lap.
“That’s not what the memory is. Please just look. It’s important.”
Ginny stared at Hermione for a long while, analyzing her. After a few moments she nodded. After a slight hesitation, Ginny placed her face slightly into the water, allowing the memory to envelope her.
Ginny watched as an eighteen year old Hermione Granger threw up into the toilet of the Weasley’s second floor washroom.
“That’s six days now.” Hermione whispered to herself. “This can’t be just a little bug.”
She checked her watch. Six twenty-three a.m. Hermione’s eyes suddenly grew twice as large as normal as she continued to stare blankly at her wrist. She managed to push herself up off the ground and walk over to the sink. She splashed water over her face and rinsed her mouth. She forced herself to look in the mirror. Her skin was still slightly green and her cheeks looked hollow. The skin around her eyes were dark and her lips were pale. Her hair was darker than its usual light brown self. She truly looked sickly.
“Okay Hermione,” she said to her reflection, “you can do this. One little incantation and you’ll be able to throw that theory aside.”
She looked down at her stomach and rubbed it slightly before unbuttoning her flannel nightshirt and pushing it to the side to reveal the entire front of her torso. She picked her wand up off the counter and placed its tip at the top of her belly button, her hand shaking tremendously.
The skin over her abdomen faded until it was translucent, allowing her to see beyond her body’s protective surface. Sure enough, swimming in the sanctuary of her reproductive system was a glowing orange light, revealing a new, pure, growing life within her.
Hermione sank to the floor, not bothering to re-button her shirt. She wept. She sat there and wept silently.
Ginny watched from the doorway, feeling like an intruder. She turned her head away from her weeping friend. She refused to watch. And in her refusal, she barely caught the last words that had escaped Hermione’s mouth before Ginny found herself sitting in her bed once again.
“Fred, you promised!”
Ginny stared at Hermione, who was fiddling with a simple diamond ring. One Ginny knew to be one other than her wedding band.
“Titus Fredrick Weasley,” the words fell from Ginny’s mouth in a soft whisper, “Titus Fredrick Weasley.”
Hermione stared at Ginny and watched her friend think through the riddle.
“Titus is Fred’s son?”
Hermione nodded. She extended her hand towards Ginny, her thumb and index finger holding the ring out to the only Weasley daughter. Ginny took the ring and examined it.
Hermione finally spoke, tears flowing from her eyes, “Fred was going to propose after we won. We were supposed to meet in the Gryffindor girls’ dormitories once all the fighting stopped. I watched him die. I watched him die only moments after we parted ways. Once Harry and Ron had left, Percy reached into Fred’s pocket and handed me the ring. He told me no one can ever know.”
“Percy was right.”
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