Harry's occlumency walls come crashing down. Hermione gives pensieve evidence.
Chapter 3 - Walls
Upton Stebbins scanned the post mortem on Ginevra Weasley-Potter and shuddered. He did not want to be the one to deliver this to Harry Potter. He felt bad enough being taken down by Longbottom at St. Mungo's, now he had to be the one to bring his supervisor /this/.
Harry watched the rookie from across the room. He knew he wasn't going to like whatever it was Stebbins had for him. He checked his emotional fortress walls - stronger than ever, good, let's get this over with then.
"Stebbins! Do you or do you not have that report?"
The auror hurried over to the door marked /Potter/.
"Sir, you really should let someone else take this case."
"Is that your professional opinion, Stebbins?"
Knowing what was in the report gave the rookie the courage to answer, "Yes sir, it is."
Harry raised his eyebrows at that. He'd taken the younger man on as a project earlier in the year when another, more senior auror had declared him "Bloody hopeless." Now his stray was showing some spirit. Harry approved.
He took the report and scanned it for pertinent details.
Ruptured aorta, extensive damage to the liver and intestines.
Greenstick fractures of clavicle and ribs, sternum separated from ribs.
Extensive trauma to the fetus.
Stebbins could tell when Potter read the line about his unborn child. It would have been kinder to stupefy the man and obliviate him, but then he would go through the pain of finding out all over again. He might be a rookie, but he could tell that Potter was hanging on by athread.
"Sir," the young auror said, gently,"you should go home, sir, we can't do any more until Mrs. Weasley gives us the pensieve evidence."
Harry nodded and accepted the man's offer to escort him to the large floo fireplace. Stebbins guided him onto the bricks, then stepped back to fling a handful of floo powder, and shout,"Godric's Hollow!"
Harry disappeared in a whirlwind of green flame.
His own fireplace leapt to life and disgorged him. He fell to his knees onto the hearth rug and mercifully passed out.
He found himself walking on a pathway between two lush, green hills. The path curved to follow the contour of the hills. Further on, there stood a short stone wall, part of a footbridge across the stream that ran perpendicular the pathway. Seated on the bridge was alittle ginger girl, a child of indeterminate age. She looked familiar.
"Rose?" he asked, "Is that you Rosie?"
The little girl looked up and beamed at him, crying, "Daddy!"
Harry went down on his knees and gathered his little girl, his unborn child, into his arms.
"Its okay, Daddy, I'm fine. Isn't it beautiful here?"
"Yes, baby girl, it's beautiful."
"Mummy says we'll be here when you come back."
"Is Mummy here, sweetheart?"
The little girl shook her head, sadly.
"I gotta go, now, Daddy. See you, okay? Just not too soon!" she admonished.
"Can't we stay a little longer?"
"Nuh huh, we both gotta go."
She hugged him once more, then began to move away. Not walking, just . . . moving.
"What's my name?"
"Lily, sweetheart, Lily Luna Potter."
Again that bright smile.
"I love you Daddy!"
"I love you Lily!"
The harsh voice, on the verge of panic, called again, "Harry!"
He opened up his haunted eyes and saw Hermione's tear streaked face.
"Oh thank God! Harry, you were passed out on the floor, I tripped over you as I came out of the floo!"
"I'm all right, Hermione, I'm . . ."
At that point the dam burst, all the pain and grief of the past three days caught up with, then overwhelmed his unprotected psyche. He held onto Hermione like a drowning man holds onto anything that floats. He didn't cry so much as he howled. For Ginny, for Ron, for Lily, the daughter he'd never know.
"I'm here, Harry, I'm here for you. That's it, let it out, let it all out." She held him as he'd never been held by his own mother when he'd needed to cry.
Neither one of them knew how long they clung to each other, there on the living room rug, but when they separated, exhausted and tear streaked, it was Hermione who took Harry's hands and stood with him.
"Go in there and take a shower and get ready for bed, I'll be back with the kids."
Harry didn't question her, he just nodded and went into the bathroom, stripped off his clothes and took as hot ashower as he could stand. Years of cleaning up after the Dursleys made picking up after himself and wiping down the bathroom surfaces when he was finished second nature. He wrapped a towel around his hips and padded into the master bedroom to put on his pajamas and a housecoat.
When he emerged into the living room he saw Hermione sitting on the couch reading to Jimmy, Albie and Rosie.
"All done then? Good, my turn."
Saying this she went into the bathroom to prepare herself for the night.
"Daddy?" James asked, "Are you back now?"
"What do you mean, Jimmy?"
"Well, you been, um, not here."
Harry understood. His three year old son could tell he'd had his "walls" up.
He kissed the top of his son's head and said, "Yeah, I'm back now."
"Good. Auntie My-knee was readin' to us."
"Can you finish?"
"Sure." He said, plopping down on the couch, where he was immediately swarmed by three small bodies, "Where were we?"
"If you give a pig a pancake. . ." James started, helpfully.
Harry found the page and continued, ". .. She'll want some syrup to go with it."
The literary group on the couch had just finished their second choice, /If You Give a Moose a Muffin/, when Hermione stepped into the living room.
"God bless Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond. Rose can't get enough of their books."
"Prat! Who's hungry?"
"Me, me, me!" the littlest Potters and Weasley cried.
The sound of thundering footsteps running into the kitchen was followed by a pregnant pause.
"I guess we need to supervise, huh?"
"I'm so sorry, Hermione." Harry started.
"No, I understand now, you did what you had to do. You had to hold it together for the boys, and you had to investigate wha, what /happened/."
Harry moved toward her, but she stopped him with an upraised hand.
"And I know you forced your emotions into a tiny little box and threw away the key . . . but, dammit Harry, James and Albus need you, and Rose and I. . ."
"I'm not going to hide behind my occlumency anymore; I'll deal however else I can."
She nodded and flew into his arms.
"Oh God I missed you Harry, I needed you and you weren't there!"
"I promise, Hermione, I will always be here for you, always!"
"Daddy, can I have beans on toast?"
"Bean toe, beeaan toeee!"
"Sure, Jimmy. Sounds good to me too!"
"I'll need to start some macaroni for Rose, she hates beans." Hermione groused.
"Already got it, ma'am." croaked the ancient house-elf from the kitchen, "Miss Rose is already telling Kreacher."
"Thank you, you are a good house-elf."
"Thank you, ma'am."
"I'm so glad you're over spew." Harry chided.
"Oh please, I was so young, and as usual, I didn't have all the facts."
"Let's have a bite, shall we?"
Hermione and Rose slept in the guest room; Harry put the boys down and crawled into the queen sized bed alone for the first time since their wedding night. He'd never let on that he hadn't slept since his wife's death. Beyond exhausted he fell into a deep, troubled sleep.
The next day was the double funeral service for the youngest Weasley siblings. Mourners and well wishers passed through the Burrows all day. Harry accepted condolences and listened to people he didn't know talk about his wife and best friend for hours without end.
He gave a short, heartfelt thank-you. To Molly and Arthur, for being the parents he'd not had growing up. And to Ron for always standing with him when things went pear-shaped, and to Ginny, for teaching him that it was okay to love unconditionally, more than okay, it was necessary. Like breathing.
Ron's wish was to be buried at the Hoops on Hogwarts Quidditch pitch. That way there would always be a Weasley defending the goals. His body was reduced to ashes placed in an urn and given to the Headmistress. Minerva McGonagall promised to bury the urn at the southern goal, the one nearest Gryffindor.
Ginny was placed in the Potter Family Vault, next to a bier that would one day hold her beloved husband.
An exhausted Harry and Hermione returned to Godric's Hollow that afternoon.
"Want to stay here tonight?"
"What is it, Hermione?"
"All those people thinking that Ron was some kind of monster. They never saw him with Rose, or working with the kids on the pitch or listened to him wax rhapsodically about Rose and me," she smirked as she added, "and the junior Quidditch leagues."
Harry took both her hands in his and said, "I'll get to the bottom of this, I swear!"
Hermione nodded, resignedly, "I'll be ready tomorrow."
A quarter to midnight found 'Diver Dan'rummaging through the skips in Kensington. He was quiet, not wanting to disturb the well to do residents. Indeed, the feral cats of London made more noise than old Dan. The aged vagrant could be heard humming to himself, and singing, softly, "Them what's well off has the best rubbish."
One man's trash was, indeed, Dan's treasure.
Carefully, quietly, he shifted the cover on a newly placed skip. It was conveniently placed so that the light from anearby lamppost illuminated the contents - white plastic bags, contrasted by bright red ribbons. As he leaned further in the ribbons sprang to life, wrapping about Old Dan's face and neck.
White hot pain.
But Dan couldn't scream, frozen as he was by the crimson tendrils. His body slid forward into the skip as prehensile tendrils quietly closed the cover.
"Mrs. Granger-Weasley, this is a potion to relax you a bit. I am required by law to tell you that it's effects are somewhat like veritaserum in that your memories will not be clouded by, ah, personal bias."
"I understand, thank you." She said and downed the potion.
"Pomegranate juice?" she asked, looking at Harry.
"I know you like it, so I had the department order it in."
She smiled, "Thanks." and then leaned her head back, "It's all coming back to me now, oh . . . God, Ron?"
Hermione went quiet as the DMLE medi-witch touched her temple with the tip of her white wand and drew out the memory closest to the surface.
The witch nodded satisfactorily at the shimmering, wispy cloud, "Oh yes, this is a complete memory, no fragmentation at all. Tell me, dear, do you have total recall, what muggles call aphotographic memory?"
Hermione nodded, her face contorting in fear.
The medi-witch placed a cool hand on Hermione's forehead and said, "You're here, in this room with your friend Harry, you're not in that other place. It's just a memory, someone else's memory, like a play on a stage, all right?"
Hermione nodded but looked frightened none the less.
"Madam," Harry interrupted, pointing at the memory still clinging to the medical wand.
The matron nodded and placed the wisp in the large stone basin.
"Please note that Auror Lef' tenant Potter will view this memory as will Probationary Auror Stebbins and Department of Magical Law Enforcement Medical Officer Minnich."
The verbatim quill scratched furiously on the legal scroll.
Harry pointed to the basin.
His fellow officers nodded then bent over the pensieve.
They fell into Ron and Hermione's London flat. Hermione was sitting on the couch before the fire reading aloud to her tiny ginger-haired daughter. Occasionally the child would point to a picture and Hermione would say, "mouse" or "cookie" or what ever the inquisitive child pointed to.
She looked up at the clock on the mantelpiece and frowned, it read eight-fifty.
"Tripped over someone at the Leaky Cauldron again, have we?"
The sound of jingling keys at the door brought her to her feet.
"Let's just put you in with your Hunny Bunny, shall we?"
She jumped a little at the sound of the door slamming open just as she put Rose in her bed with her favorite stuffed toy, a tan and white furry long-eared rabbit with an enchantment that made it purr contentedly. Rose curled around her "Bunny" as Hermione cast a silencing charm around the room.
She closed the door gently then turned to her husband.
And was greeted by a right cross. Dazed and horrified the witch endured a battering that would have reduced a robust man to an incoherent mass on the floor. But she stood, arms raised and crossed, as blows hammered on her. An odd part of her was detached, trying to understand, trying to see the reason or logic for her pain.
Her husband was livid, spitting curses and screaming incoherently. Then he went quiet, the silence even worse than the cursing as he spun her around and forced her to bend over the kitchen counter. Ron shredded her skirt and knickers with ill aimed cutting curses that left shallow slashes over her legs and bum. She didn't dare move; she knew he was going to kill her.
He took her from behind - roughly. He summoned a small crock that held butter and used it to coat her back passage. He loosened her sphincter with his thumb before forcing his engorged member into that hitherto unused orifice.
Hermione screamed in shame and pain and bewilderment.
There were knives on the counter, just out of her reach. She stretched out her hand only to have it painfully twisted around behind her back. She felt Ron freeze and heard him grunt and go limp.
Hermione spun quickly and ran to the living room, grabbed the floo powder and, throwing the whole container into the fireplace, screamed, "Godric's Hollow!"
She'd just gotten her face into the fireplace when she felt Ron's large hands in her hair dragging her back and out. She barely managed to croak out "Help!"
Hermione realized, to her horror, that she was being dragged by her hair in the direction of her daughter's room.
"No!" she shrieked, and began to fight in earnest. Ron threw her down and kicked her, his booted toe cracking at least one of her ribs.
His wand was out and pointed at her as she lay on the floor in a fetal ball.
The fireplace glowed green and Ginny came flying through. She rolled as she hit the ground and came up with her wand out and pointing at her brother. When she saw who it was she dropped her wand just in time to hear Ron scream "Reducto!"
The blasting hex hit her at close range, spinning her around so that she landed on Hermione. With her last agonized breath she cried, "Harry. . ."
Darkness fell and the last thing Hermione heard was her husband's voice screaming "Piss day!"
Harry stepped back from the memory, shaken. He'd seen enough, more than enough. He knew Ron better than anyone and he knew that the man who did this to Hermione wasn't him. This was no imperious curse, it wasn't polyjuice, it was possession. He was going to find the witch or wizard responsible for this.
There would be no trial.
There'd be nothing left of them to try.
A/N: One reviewer, and only one, mind you, felt the need to complain that killing off Ginny and Ron so that H/Hr can happen is cliche. Hmmmmm, doesn't something become cliche if it works? If that's so every vampire story since Dracula is cliche, and every detective story since A Study in Scarlet is too.
The murder of Ron and Ginny is integral to this story. Period.
But it got me to think, are there or are there not guidelines to a good H/Hr story?
Let me turn to the scriptures for help:
Reading from the First Book of Harmony, chapter one, verse one through seven.
1. Thou shalt not allow the unnatural pairing of Hermione and Ron, as this is an abomination. 2. Thou can'st have a pairing of Ginevra and Harry as long at the Ginger doth share. 3. If the abomination exists thou shalt portray Ron in his true form, that of an insufferable gittith. 4. If the abomination exists thou art allowed (pronounced, "allow-ed") to either turn back the clock to atime whither thou can'st prevent the abomination or thou must smite the Ron unto death. 5. Smiting Ginevra doth make Harry sad, and should be avoided, if possible, but only if the Ginger doth share. 6. Surely cliches art allowed to flourish in the land of fan-fiction, for they are the backbone of the writer dissatisfied with canon. 7. Surely lemony goodness shall follow the harmonious pairing for ever and ever. Amen.