Hermoine’s eyes were filled with tears and she nodded. “I don’t know how I’m going to tell her mother.”
“Was she related to you?”
Hermoine nodded again. Dennis got up and tore off a paper towel and handed it to her. Hermoine silently wiped her eyes.
“It’s my cousin Esmeralda’s oldest daughter.” She said finally.
“Your cousin is a muggle?” Dennis asked.
“Yes she is, but her ex-husband Maurice is a Wizard. Their daughter Endora is….was a witch, she was a student at Hogwarts. At least she was until three days ago. Neville says that her father came and took her out of school. Neville didn’t know anything about the divorce of course or he would never have let her go.”
“My cousin contacted me and asked if I could use my contacts in the Ministry to help her. She feared that Maurice might be trying to take her daughter out of the country. He’s from France you see and she felt that he might try to flee there with her or barring that, go to another country where he wouldn’t be arrested.”
“Your cousin’s daughter, she’s the splitting image of you.” Dennis said.
“Yes in fact if we went out together most people generally thought that she was my child.” Hermoine said.
Dennis nodded “I can see that happening, believe me my heart just about broke when I saw her. Still Hermoine this makes no sense, if Maurice took his own daughter how did she end up lying dead in a field somewhere. Was her father a Voldemort sympathizer or some kind of psycho? And what about the other 2 children we found dead?”
Hermoine shook her head. “I am as in the dark as you are and I agree that there is something sinister at work here but I don’t think that it’s Voldemort. It has to be one of the old Death Eaters.”
“Is it possible that there could have been an eighth horcrux?” Dennis asked
Hermoine shook her head. “Dennis I know where this is going, but trust me when I tell you that an eighth horcrux is out of the question. Voldemort’s soul was stretched thin enough with seven, an eighth……..” She left the rest unsaid.
Dennis thought about what she said. “I hear you Hermoine but I still have to be sure and there’s only one way.”
“You want to see his body.” She guessed.
Dennis smiled, shrugged “As always I’m an open book with you.”
“I don’t know if that’s going to be possible Dennis. I don’t think Professor McGonagall will approve. Voldemort’s burial chamber is one of Hogwarts best kept secrets.”
Dennis looked thoughtful. “I’m sure Neville knows or maybe Aberforth. I’ll try them both.”
“You’re not going to give up are you Dennis?” She asked.
He smiled at that “Would you? Have you ever given up at anything you’ve ever done?”
Hermoine said nothing.
“No, I didn’t think so. And that’s a big part of the reason why I feel the way I do about you.”
Hermoine blushed. “Dennis I……” She got up suddenly. “I…..I’ll make you a sandwich to take with you, you look like you haven’t eaten in a while.”
Dennis smiled at the change of subject “That would be lovely, and you’re right I haven’t really eaten all day.”
Hermoine went about quickly packing a small brown bag lunch; a sandwich, an apple, a banana and a small box of milk. Dennis stood up and she gave him the bag. “Now you have a good day at school young man and don’t get into any trouble with the other kids.”
Dennis grinned “Ok Mom I’ll do my best.” He bent down baring his cheek. “A kiss goodbye?” He ventured.
“Nice try.” She told him as she pushed him towards the door.
He stopped there, paper bag in hand and Hermoine saw him not as Dennis Creevey the man, former Auror - bane of the Death Eaters; but as the small boy she knew so many years before at school.
“Thanks Hermoine, for always being there.” He said standing in the moonlight. “You may not know it but that one night we had together was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
It was all she could do not to run and hold him. And she realized that it was that aspect of Dennis’s personality, that sad vulnerability he had, that brought out the mother as well as lover in her.
She swallowed hard her rational side once more dominant. “Goodbye Dennis and be careful.”
Dennis read some of what she was feeling in her face and smiled sadly that it would remain unsaid. He closed the door behind him and began walking quietly into the night.