Harry watches over Hermione and Rosie. Hermione decides to clean out her flat. Harry gets a clue.
Chapter 4 - Remodeling
Harry took Hermione to Godrick's Hollow that night. The exhausted mother slept in the guest room with Rosie. Harry watched his youngest son sleep and was startled when the boy woke suddenly, crying for his mummy.
"May I?" Hermione asked. She stood in the doorway, sleep tussled.
Harry nodded. She knelt and the littlest Potter toddled into her open arms. He returned to bed. As soon as Harry's head hit the pillow his son cried, "Daddy!"
It took the better part of an hour to calm the child, and then Rosie, who was upset because her cousin was upset. Two exhausted parents fell into the master bedrooms large bed with Rose and Albus in the middle framed by Harry and Hermione on either side.
Child psychologists will tell you that babies between the ages of one-and-a-half and three should not be allowed to sleep in their parent's beds. What the hell do they know? Everyone slept contented for the first time in days. Harry couldn't move come morning, his three (Most the way to four)-year-old son was a dead weight against his back, the Weasley-Potter cousins were snuggled in the center, and Hermione looked so peaceful lying there, Harry hated to rouse her.
The bushy haired brunette half opened her eyes and saw Harry's unruly mop, squared and cubed by 'bedhead,' and his piercing, green eyes.
Hermione's brown eyes snapped open and for a moment she looked ready to fight or flee. Then she remembered the children needing them and that their solution seemed like a good idea at the time.
Oh well, she thought to herself, the worst that can happen is, in my old age, I'll be able to brag that I'd slept with Harry Potter.
What she said aloud was, "I'll have first shot at the loo."
Inwardly Harry groaned until she said,"I'll only be a moment, then I'll take the little ones down for brekkers."
Rose and James perked up at the word "brekkers."
By the time Harry entered the kitchen, dressed and ready for work, all three kids had been fed and washed and his own English breakfast was laid out with a copy of the Daily prophet.
Hermione was eating his breakfast and reading his paper.
"Um, Kreacher, could you boil an egg for me please?"
Hermione looked up and gave him an embarrassed shrug.
"Couldn't help myself, it looks and smells so wonderful."
"Master Harry's breakfast is ready sir, ma'am." Kreacher's gravelly voice announced. He placed a tray in the kitchen nook with scrambled eggs, toast and coffee.
"Thanks Kreacher, I don't know how I'd manage without you."
The old house elf blushed at the praise and herded the children off to the nursery.
"He really is a jewel." Hermione said, nodding in the direction of the elf's retreating back.
"He's one of a kind, that's for sure."
Her smile faded, "I don't want to give up our flat in London. It's so close to my office and Rose is getting on so well with the other children in the neighborhood."
"Don't give it up, then. We'll just be a floo call away in any case, and Kreacher loves looking after Rosie along with the boys."
She took a deep breath, "I suppose its time to get back to work." Hermione was deputy head of the Muggle Liaison office.
"You've trained your staff well. If there had been an actual emergency, someone would have called by now."
Changing the subject she abruptly asked,"Harry, would you come to our flat and help me go through, um, some things?"
He knew she meant for him to help her go through her late husbands stuff and determine what to keep.
"Of course. When?"
"After you get off work today. I'll get started sorting through it this morning."
"Are you sure you're up to it?"
"I'll be fine."
Harry pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head, which, he noted, was a bit higher than Ginny's had been.
"See you this evening then."
Harry sat in the same room as before, the pensive swirling with the memories of the assault. He looked like he'd been put through a wringer.
All morning he'd reviewed and refocused and refined the image, concentrating on Ron's face, on what he had said much more than the act itself. Not for the first time Harry wondered if it was agood sign that he could detach himself from his emotions in order to compartmentalize the crime scene.
He knew he didn't want to remember his best friend this way, his face a mask of scorn and fury, his eyes red rimmed with, with. . .
He went back into the pensive. Muting Hermione's screams he concentrated on Ron's eyes. At first he'd thought Ron had been drinking, but very little alcohol, magical or mundane, had been detected in his body.
That red glint, like a torus around the iris - it flashed into and out of existence every few seconds. He held onto the memory to make his own pensieve recording, then headed for the department of mysteries.
Hermione stepped gracefully out of the fireplace in Kensington, looked around and shuddered. She didn't want to give up the flat, but it held horrible memories for her. She'd wanted to remodel the old Victorian for years.
Her face took on that look of grim determination as she nodded to herself and thought - that's it. I'll gut this place and we'll rebuild it from the inside out.
First things first, purge the home of its former occupant.
There were very few pictures of Ronald in the flat, mostly because he liked to take the pictures. Funny thing about amateur photographers, they have very few pictures of themselves. The only pictures of Ron were the wedding photos, a few shots of him with his junior Quidditch league teams, and one especially good snapshot of him holding Rosie. Hermione reverently placed all the pictures of Ron in a box, save two. The framed 'Bride and Groom' shot from their wedding eight years before and the father-daughter portrait went to the fireplace mantle. Those were the two happiest moments in Hermione's marriage, and she would remember those times. She would not dwell on what Ronald had become at the end of his short life.
Hermione would not be one of those pathetic widows who kept a shrine to her late husband.
She went into their room, stripped the sheets and blankets and pillowcases off the bed - it would take more than a few freshening charms to purge those items of Ron's scent.
Next, she opened the closet and began to pull large handfuls of clothing on hangers, placing them in the middle of the room. There was quite a lot of it; Ronald never threw anything away. His pack-rat ways were, no doubt, a carry-over from having endured seventeen years of hand-me-downs. Some of the clothing, Quidditch related clothes, and his old pair of keeper's gloves (a long-ago Christmas gift from Harry) could go to the amateur Quidditch leagues that Ron had loved and coached. His dress robes would look fine on James or Albus or Teddy some day. Then she had a thought and patted her tummy, "If you're a boy, would you like to wear your daddy's robes?"
She snorted, thinking of all the wonderful things she had to look forward to.
Mercurial mood swings.
Not seeing her own feet for three months.
She'd made three neat piles, save, donate to charity, and burn with extreme prejudice.
Everything Chudley Cannon orange was in the burn pile.
Her fireplace glowed green and Harry's head appeared.
"Hermione?" he called to the room.
"Come on through, Harry."
He stepped in and looked at the three piles.
"Let me guess," he pointed to the orange pile, "bonfire?"
She grinned, sheepishly, and nodded.
"Keep?" he asked indicating the pile of books and clothing in charmed garment bags.
"And. . .hmmmm, donate?"
"Spot on, Mr. Potter. Not that I don't appreciate seeing you in the middle of the day, but why are you here?"
"I needed to get away from the office for a bit and I noticed I'm famished, would you like a bite?"
She looked pensive, "Yes, but one condition."
"I want Chinese."
"Um, okay. What brought this on. . ." in a moment of pure clarity Harry slapped the middle of his forehead with the palm of his hand. Of course she was having cravings, she was two months pregnant.
"I know just the place."
"Nice recovery Mr. Potter."
She took his arm to side-along to the Wok-n-Roll near them that catered to muggle as well as magical clientele.
Neither saw or otherwise sensed the long red tendrils retracting themselves into the deepest shadows of the master bedroom's closet.
When Harry returned to work he saw asmall folded airplane on his desk glowing fuchsia. He frowned.
"Just arrived for you, sir, I was just about to call when I heard you apparate in."
Harry nodded; his erk had just saved himself a good brow beating. He opened the message and read it. His suspicions were confirmed - Ron had been possessed. He'd probably been under someone's thrall for years - which explained much.
As for the who?
Ron had shouted "Piss day!" right after blasting his sister. Harry hadn't paid that much attention to it but one of the unspeakables was a polyglot.
"Piss day" didn't mean anything really, unless you were from central Europe. Then it was "pizdae" a vulgar thing to call a woman.
"Ask Mrs. Granger-Weasley if she'll watch the boys for a couple of days. I'll be out of town. Don't tell her where."
"I don't know where you're going, sir."
Harry checked his wand holster, as well as his backup piece, then said, "Bulgaria."