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Chapter 3 : Never forgotten
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Every waking moment was a reminder to Hermione that Ron was no longer with them, but this day was unmerciful. It brought all of the horrifying memories of that day back for her to relive as if they were happening all over again. Hermione was not required to come to work on the anniversary of Ron's death. The head of her department and even the Minister himself made it sympathetically clear that she was encouraged to take a personal day. Hermione refused. Just as she did every year on this day, she was determined to get herself out of bed and carry on with her life and her responsibilities. For her family, she must. As far as she was concerned being at home with her thoughts was far worse than keeping herself busy at work. As Hermione got herself ready the memories began to flood in.
Ron was an Auror. They all were, Ron, Harry, and herself. Hugo had taken ill that day, he had a terrible earache and fever. Hermione stayed home with her son, and said good bye to her husband for the last time as he went away to work. There was a report of Death Eaters also other witches and wizards who were known by the Auror office to practice in dark arts, in the mountains in Northern Wales. They had taken seven Muggles from nearby villages into the mountains with them. What exactly they were doing congregating together with seven Muggle hostages is still mostly unknown. Ron, Harry, and four other Aurors were sent on a mission to free the muggle hostages, ascertain their plan, and capture the transgressors.
The Death Eaters were not surprised at the Auror's arrival, they were prepared. It is still an unsettled as to how they were informed. The Aurors were outnumbered their advantage of surprise had been taken away from them. They had no choice but to flee. They had managed to grab several of the Muggles, but it was impossible to save them all. Ron had died trying. Just a brief flash of green light and that was it. He died instantly. Hermione had a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that someone who was so important to her…so important to so many people could have died so easily. But she knew better. She knew just how easily life could be taken away when evil was involved. Harry tried to stay with him, to get his body, to kill his killer. But he was forced to Apparate by another Auror, and was badly splinched. Hermione blamed herself for not being there, as if it would have made a difference. Ron's parents had offered to look after Hugo, why hadn't she just accepted? Perhaps she could have saved her husband.
Hermione was gone from the ministry for several months, Harry also took a considerable amount of time from work who also blamed himself severely for Ron's death. Both unable to bear their lives without Ron. Ginny kept herself together for the family's sake, but inside she was just as devastated as any of them. Hermione as well as Harry knew they had to go on with their lives. They had responsibilities and families to look after. Hermione could not go back as an Auror. She couldn't bear the memories or the thought of her children losing another parent because of such a dangerous occupation. Harry tried to leave the Auror's office but he soon realized that there was really nothing else he could do. Being an Auror was his life, and Hermione knew he would never rest until he had justice. She hoped he would get it.
Hermione went on to the Department of Magical of Law. She was head of a very small office that was concerned in Elfish affairs, though it did not get even half the amount of attention it deserved. Her goal was to have a Department entirely devoted to the interest of House elves, named D.E.W. ( Department of Elfish Welfare). One of her greatest passions was to Stop the Abuse of House elves and Change Their Legal Status. She had made some progress but was still no where near when she wanted to be. Her new occupation helped to keep her busy and keep her motivated.
Hermione got her children up to send them through the fireplace to the Burrow to spend the day with their grandparents. Hugo seemed fine, Rose was more distant than usual her eyes puffy and red. Hermione kissed them goodbye, and took one last deep breath forcing herself to keep it together before her emotions burst from her and in the blink of an eye she had apparated into thin air.
For those at the ministry who knew of Ron and the anniversary of his tragic death either gave Hermione sorrowful sympathetic looks, or gave her sorrowful sympathetic words of remorse. Hermione appreciated people keeping Ron in their memories, she never wanted him forgotten, she knew he never would be. But Hermione was determined to get through the day without a complete emotional break down, she wished people would just let her be so she could just hold it together long enough to finish out her day. Hermione went directly to her tiny crammed office…her section of the department was not deemed important enough to have a large or even medium sized office...but Hermione made the most of it. Her office was absolutely filled with file cabinets, stacks of paper work, research papers, and books. She knew that one day all of this would pay off, and it couldn't come soon enough. The current Minister of Magic, Aldous Finnley, however had little interest in her work, and even smaller amount of interest in Hermione's aspiration in trying to expand it into an entire department. But she was going to change that. For the sake of her fellow magical creatures…she had to. In the meantime Hermione had been trying to get the "Dobby Law" passed, which states any House Elf who independently wishes to become free must be set free by their "owners". It hadn't been a very popular proposal but Hermione worked tirelessly trying to make it happen.
Hermione spent hours in her office organizing paperwork, and continuing research she had already begun, this helped to keep her mind busy for which she was grateful. Hermione began to feel cramped after sitting at her desk for such a long amount of time, and her mind needed a rest. She decided to take a break and get some fresh air. She got up from her stiff wooden desk chair, stretched, and made her way out of her office door. Fresh air would mean actually going above ground and leaving the building which Hermione decided would take too much work, so she determined the next best thing would be to take a walk in the Atrium which had huge enchanted windows that depicted the beautiful outdoors. Close enough. Hermione made her way down the hallway towards the elevator. Coming towards her from the other direction was the Minister himself. Hermione wondered what Aldous was doing on this floor when she realized he was not walking alone. He was walking with a tall, well muscled, silvery blonde haired man. Hermione's heart absolutely stopped in her chest. She wanted to turn around and go quickly in the other direction but she knew she would look ridiculous, they had seen her…they were looking at her now. Hermione realized she had stopped in her tracks and knew she had no choice but to go forward, lest she look foolish. She painfully walked to the elevator and arrived just as the minister and Malfoy did.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Granger." the minister greeted Hermione with a sympathetic tone to his voice. " This is a day to remember your courageous and honorable husband, you and your family are in my thoughts, and I'm sure I can say the same for many other Ministry employees." The minister said respectfully.
"Thank you Mr. Finnely, I do appreciate your kind thoughts." Hermione managed to say.
"Do not hesitate to go home early Mrs. Granger, to be with your family." The minister said.
"Yes Mr. Finnley, thank you."
Malfoy stared. His expression completely unreadable. Hermione came to realize she would have to climb into the elevator with the two of them and wished with all of her might that she could fast forward the next few minutes of her life. The elevator doors opened, and the three of them climbed on.
"Mrs. Granger, this is Draco Malfoy but I presume you two must be familiar with each other?" The minister said, apparently feeling the need to keep up with the small talk.
Hermione and Draco looked at each other. She felt somewhat embarrassed, nervous, and she could feel her face flushing the deepest shade of red. It appeared Malfoy wasn't going to be the one to answer so Hermione finally spit out, "Yes." Then turned her gaze from Malfoy having absolutely no desire to prolong the conversation.
"Hogwarts, I'm sure. Were the two of you in the same year?" the minister said obviously unaware of the awkwardness between the two of them. Malfoy surprised Hermione this time by answering first without hesitating.
"Yes, Sir we were in the same year." Though he did not elaborate.
"Well, the two of you should be able to catch up on old times as you should be seeing a lot more of each other." The Minister said keeping up the conversation. "Mr. Malfoy here is going to be head of the Dark Arts office." Hermione new the office was part of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she could not recall who the previous head of the office had been.
"Congratulations." Hermione said awkwardly having no idea what else to say.
"Thanks." Draco nodded his head just as awkwardly, not making eye contact. The elevator stopped on the Minister's floor, and Hermione expected Malfoy to follow him but to her horror he did not.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Granger, again my condolences." "I shall see you tomorrow Mr. Malfoy, Good afternoon." Hermione and Malfoy could do nothing but not nod as they watched the elevator doors slide shut from behind him.
Hermione could feel her heart beating a million times a minute, she had never expected to encounter Malfoy again so soon and now she would be seeing him much more often. The thought of possibly more elevator rides with him made her stomach churn. Hermione could smell him. He was wearing cologne…it was subtle but it filled her nostrils and she felt the strangest sensation inhaling his scent. She glanced out of the corner of her eye and noticed his dark suit. It looked very expensive…and it fit him immaculately.
Hermione thought of Malfoy's new position and then remembered the scar she knew was hidden beneath his expensive suit on his forearm. How ironic…a former Death Eater Head of The Dark Arts office. Hermione could not think of a more poorly suited candidate for the job, especially since it was Malfoy. But of course the Minister knows of Malfoy's past…there is no way that he could not. But times have changed and things are possible now that never would have been fourteen years ago. There is more trust, even in people with dark pasts such as Malfoy. But if anyone knew a thing or two about the dark arts, she supposed it would be Malfoy.
The Elevator stopped again, the Atrium this time. They both got off the elevator, Malfoy turned to look at her and gave her a quick nod before he left. It was awkward. Hermione didn't know why he even bothered. Her heart rate finally started to slow, and she hoped her face was starting to turn a normal color. She decided she would take the Minister up on his offer after all and take the rest of the day off. She had gotten a lot of work done and was emotionally exhausted. All she wanted to do was go home and spend time with her family. She did her best to shake off her last uncomfortable run in with Malfoy and tried hard not to think about the countless ones they would now have in the future. At least it had taken her mind off her grief although it wasn't a very pleasant substitute. Hermione climbed into the nearest fireplace and headed straight for the Burrow to be with her family.
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