Hermione struggles with her demons, and finds that others share them, Neville and Hannah have an adventure, Harry and Daphne go shopping.
A/N: I do not own Harry Potter. But you knew that.
Harry Potter and The Acts of Betrayal
Chapter Sixteen - Trial by Fire
Arthur returned from the floo. "Lucius Malfoy is dead."
"Good." Fred said.
"Why do we care?" George asked.
"He was killed during a meeting with Harry. Kingsley didn't have the details yet, but he's looking into it. There was evidently a Black Family meeting, and Malfoy made an aggressive move."
"Still good." Fred repeated.
"And why do we care?" George repeated.
"I know I don't care." Fred affirmed.
"Harry killed a man who has wronged him far less than our family." Their father explained.
"If Harry was going to kill Ron or Ginny, they would have been dead before the Aurors could have gotten them out of the castle." George pointed out. "Dad, seriously, Harry isn't going to kill Ron or Ginny unless he finds either of them ever looking at Hermione again."
Lucius Malfoy was dead. That news startled the man once known as Tom Riddle. Somehow he had always expected that his would be the hand that took the arrogant purebloods life. Who knew Potter had it in him?
Still, to kill the emissary of the Dark Lord, that could not be ignored. The boy would have to be punished. Of course he was already marked for death. Unfortunately he was also well protected. His friends, less so. The old fool's influence was waning. The Nott boy reported that a Hogsmeade weekend was coming up. Riddle's reptilian face contorted into an approximation of a smile.
"It has come to my attention that Hogwarts will be having a Hogsmeade Weekend starting tomorrow."
"Children to play with? Thank you My Lord."
"It seems to me you have unfinished business with the Longbottom family, do you not?"
"Oh My Lord!" the psychotic pureblood was in an almost orgasmic state. Was her insanity getting worse?
"Take a dozen of my Death Eaters with you. Kill all the children you find."
"Yes My Lord."
The woman was insane, but an effective tool. Perhaps an accident should be arranged to ensure she never directed her insanity at him.
Hermione lay in her bed luxuriating in Harry's presence. It would be time to be up soon. Her alarm clock was rebelliously Muggle, a clock work clock (a small part of her found needing to define a clock as being 'clock work' to be amusing) with radium painted hands showed that the time was 5am. Harry's arm was around her, his hand holding her stomach, right where the child would be if it was growing inside of her.
Luna said there was no child. Luna knew things. She couldn't explain why or how she knew these things but she knew things. Luna said there was no child.
Why wasn't she happier about that? Maybe it would take hearing the news directly from Madam Pomfrey. Did some part of her want the baby? She didn't think so, but... It was as if something was suddenly missing. Had she been preparing for bad news?
She thought back to the previous evening. As Luna was leaving, Tracy Davis stopped by. She hadn't said a word, just entered the common room as Luna was leaving it. She had sat on the sofa on the far side from where Hermione was.
The Grey Slytherin had just sat staring at her for most of 20 minutes. Then she spoke "So. I would have thought Lovegood would cheer you up. Are you just weirded out having me here?"
"No, I appreciate the company."
"No you don't Granger. You don't like me. You never have. That's fine, I've never liked you. If not for you I'd be first in the class. Daphne likes you though. No, that's a lie. Daphne loves you."
"It's the bonding. I love Harry, she needed Harry. We needed to get along."
"You're wrong Granger. It's not the bonding. The bonding made you understand and like her and she understands and likes you. Now she loves you. Its Potter's magic that's changed Daphne. You know what you've got here. Don't let the Weasley's take it away from you."
"Every time I close my eyes I see Ron on top of me. I feel him inside of me. Harry deserves a better wife that I can be."
"Merlin you're an idiot. How the hell are you beating me in every damned class? Harry Potter loves you. He chose you. His stupid Gryffindor nobility tied him to Daphne, and because of that Daphne is going to change the world. You have his name, his fortune and his power. More important than that, you have his soul. Harry doesn't give a damn what Weasley did to you beyond that he hurt you. You could screw every single guy in this school and as long as he knew it was your idea, Harry would take you to his bed without blinking an eye. Do you understand what you've got?"
"I know he loves me. I don't understand why, but I know he does."
She felt him spoon closer to her, his left hand moving down to move his finger tips in slow circles over her pubic hair. He loved to do that; she had been surprised when she discovered she loved it when he did it. He called them her 'curlies'. His starting to do this in his sleep was somehow more endearing than anything else he could do. Part of her wanted to respond to him, but the part that knew she was dirty wouldn't let her.
"Listen Granger." Tracey had continued. "You have the support of someone I respect over everyone else on this pathetic planet. If Daphne sees you as an equal they you must be as amazing as she is. You have the love of Harry Bloody Potter. I've been in the presence of the disgusting caricature that calls its self a Dark Lord, Harry radiates more power than that abomination ever dreamed about. He is going to kill Voldemort, your husband is going to be the savior of the world, and will be in a position to change this world to make things better, with you telling him what better is. You have your parents who both love and support you and who would never trade your happiness for some perceived political advantage. Yes what happened to you was horrible. But you are strong. You will get through this because of who you are and who you have to help you."
"What makes you think I'm so bloody strong?"
"You're beating me and I'm strong. You aren't the first woman this has happened to. Malfoy got to me third year. His two idiots held me down while he used me. Then they took turns. My parents were overjoyed. 'Well done Tracey' they said. "Coming to the attention of the Malfoys, we can only profit from this alliance.' they said. Not a single boy in Slytherin would help. Only Daphne would hold me while I cried. They've used me dozens of times since." Hermione looked up horrified. There were tears in the dark haired girl's eyes. "I survived it. So can you."
Hermione remembered pulling the other girl into her arms, whispering "Never again." Tracey was right. She was strong. She wasn't ready for more intimacy that what she was sharing with Harry now, but she would be.
Ginny Weasley sat on the cot in the cell.
Where had it all gone wrong? How had Luna known? Why had she interfered? Harry and his Slytherin slut found her idiot brother and that stupid mudblood in the act, but what did he do? Did he abandon Hermione and come to her? No. He had ignored her totally and just gone to Hermione. He had passed her unconscious body in the halls on the way to the Hospital wing. Molly had told her that Harry had threatened her parents, that Harry said he was going to kill her and Ron if he ever saw either of them again...
Molly was wrong, she must have misunderstood. Harry loved her. When he was done with Hermione and that Slytherin slut he would come back to her. They were together for ten months. She dreamed his kisses. This was all a mistake. Harry would fix this. Harry would save her. As soon as he knew that Hermione the Whore was carrying Ron's baby, Harry would come for her.
Harry always saved her. He fought a basilisk for her. He killed Riddle's echo to save her. When she fell in the Ministry, Harry held her crying... Didn't he? It was hard to remember.
A tray slid through the slot at the base of the door. They weren't fooling her. She knew what they were doing. There were potions in the food. They wanted to control her. They wanted to make Harry forget her.
Harry would never forget her.
"You're not pregnant."
"You're sure?" Hermione looked into the Healer's eyes, almost begging her to confirm.
"Very sure Ms. Granger. Poppy Pomfrey had given this news more times than she could remember. All too often the news was just the opposite. The young woman's reaction to the news was all too normal. Tears. Having her husband there was not normal, but welcome.
Harry pulled her into his arms, and held her as she wept. Somehow, someday he would make all this up to her.
Twenty minutes later, with a freshly washed face, and eyes that were no longer quite so red, Hermione walked with Harry back to their apartments.
"If you'd like, we could go to Hogsmeade today. You know, get some fresh air, and stretch our legs, like that."
"No." she shook her head. "I'd like another day to get myself together. You go, take Daphne, and have fun. Both of you have been hovering over me long enough."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Get me something."
"What would you like?"
She smiled. His heart lifted at the sight of her dimples once again. "Surprise me."
Neville reached up to assist Hannah down from the carriage.
"So, Milady, where to? Madam Puddifoot's?"
"Merlin no! That place is pathetically soppy. Let's hit Honeydukes then the Three Broomsticks for some drinks. Find me a dark booth in the back and who knows how lucky you might get."
"You know Hannah; you might just be the best girlfriend, ever."
Harry and Daphne had taken advantage of the Hogsmeade weekend to go to London looking for something to cheer Hermione up. Harry had insisted that a book would be the perfect gift; Daphne disagreed and wanted to get some comfortable sleepwear, insisting that no woman ever had enough.
They of course compromised and did it Daphne's way. Harry snuck a pair of Muggle paperback novels written by authors whose work Hermione followed.
Following the shopping Harry escorted Daphne to an Indian restaurant to add to her education in Muggle cuisine. Daphne took to curry with gusto, ordering a second plate when she finished. Harry found her joy at the food to be infectious. He made sure to get a 'to go' plate for Hermione, knowing as he did that hell hath no fury like Hermione denied food she liked.
Neville Longbottom was on his hands and knees panting. The Cruciatus Curse had his throat raw from the screaming. If he was to die at the hands of this unspeakable bitch, at least he knew that Hannah had gotten the others away. His magic was enough that he would distract and delay the bastards. Just a few more days and he would have...
"Oh, look what we found ickle Neville." Bellatrix's insane voice cut through the pain to get his attention.
He looked up from the dirt, and saw Hannah struggling in the arms of one of the masked bastards. His vision went red, anger like he had never known spiked through his soul.
"Is she your ickle girlfriend ickle Nevipoo? Has she spread her legs for you Nevipoo? Maybe she would be kind enough to entertain the gentlemen with me. Would you like to see that Nevipoo? How many do you think she could take before she starts begging you to kill her?"
Rage became his entire world. He lunged toward the woman.
The pain came again; the rage took the pain, and shredded it. His left hand found her throat lifted her from the ground, pinning her against the wall and began to squeeze, his right covered hers, breaking her fingers and the wand she held.
"Accio Wand!" he was rewarded by the cherry and unicorn hair wand slapping into his hand. "Reducto!"
The Death Eater holding Hannah suddenly found it difficult to breath with a 4 inch hole blown completely through his chest.
"Neville!" Hannah rushed to him. Neville placed himself between the remaining Death Eaters and the woman he loved.
Harry and Daphne apparated back to Hogsmeade and found portions of the town in flames.
Harry grabbed the arm of a man running past. "What the hell happened here?"
"Death Eater attack. Bellatrix LeStrange was leading them. They attacked students from Hogwarts!" said the man as he continued to where ever he was going. Harry and Daphne exchange a look and without saying a word they both pulled their wands and started to run toward the castle.
Outside the Three Broomsticks, they found Kingsley Shacklebolt standing over twelve shrouded bodies, directing the actions of a team of Aurors.
"Potter! Come here."
The pair approached the tall man. "What happened?" Harry asked.
"We were wondering where you were. It's not like you to miss these things, we were afraid that you had been captured." The older man checked his notes. "Voldemort sent an assault team with the express mission of killing students. Bellatrix LeStrange was in charge. That's her there." He kicked one of the shrouded bodies. "When they apparated in, the first people they found were Neville Longbottom and his girlfriend. You know how the Bitch fixated on the Longbottoms, she attacked the boy, who managed to keep the bastards focused on him so that his girlfriend could get everyone out of the way. The kid lasted long enough that she actually managed to get the students evacuated. Then she went back for him. She was caught of course. Bellatrix threatened Miss Abbott, and Longbottom went completely insane. He killed LeStrange with his bare hands, and killed all but one of the Death Eaters with her. The survivor doesn't have a mark on him, but he's singing his head off, telling us everything he knows. He says that Longbottom told him that if he leaves out asingle detail, Longbottom will do things to him that the Dark Lord never thought of in his worst nightmares."
"Is Neville ok?"
"No, Harry he isn't. Heavy Cruciatus exposure. He's in the Hospital Wing. Poppy said he was operating on pure adrenalin and rage."
Harry and Daphne arrived back at their apartments and Harry was immediately attacked by a bushy haired blur in her pyjamas.
"Where the hell have you been?" she screamed at him while clinging to him. "I've been so worried, I thought you were hurt or captured, or dead in an alley somewhere, don't you ever do that to me again!"
"Hermione." Daphne stroked her hair. "We were in London. We found out about the attacks when we got back."
"We didn't mean to worry you Hermione."
"You went to London? Why?"
"We thought we'd get you something to cheer you up." Daphne handed her the bag from Harrods
"You got me presents? Thank you. "
"And food!" Harry offered the to-go plate, complete with warming charms.
She opened the bag, and peeked inside. "You got me curry?" She pulled the Styrofoam containers from a bag. "Curry is good. Thank you." She looked up at Harry. "You should go see Neville."
"I'll see him later. I worried you today, you come first."
"Go see him now. I want to talk to Daphne. Go away."
Harry got to the Hospital wing and found Hannah huddled in on a chair next to the only occupied bed, with Susan Bones in attendance. Hannah rose from her chair and pulled Harry into a hug.
"Thank god, we were worried that you had been captured."
"Daphne and I were in London looking for something for Hermione. How's Neville?"
"Neville is an idiot." The man in question answered from his bed. His entire body shaking from the tremors associated with heavy exposure to the Cruciatus Curse. "I should have run, but I thought I could delay them."
"You did delay the bastards Nev. The Aurors are in awe of you. Not a single student got hurt, other than you. The Death Eater you let live is singing like a canary. I may be 'The Boy Who Lived', but the Aurors are calling you 'The Man Who Kicked Ass'.
"Gran's going to kill me."
"I don't know mate. You've always said that she compares you to your dad. After today, she might have to start comparing your dad to you." Harry smiled at his bedridden friend. "Has anyone called her yet? I could do that if you'd like."
"Professor McGonagall has gone to contact her."
"Madam Pomfrey's giving us the Evil eye. You lot better leave." Hannah said. "I'm staying with Neville to meet his Grandmother."
Harry nodded. "You take care mate. If you need anything, let me know."
"Thanks Harry." Neville lay back on the bed, as Harry and Susan left the wing.
"Now then Mr. Longbottom." Hannah leaned over and kissed him. "When you get out of here, you are going to get so lucky."
"Hannah, I didn't do anything."
"Didn't do anything he says. You fought through a Cruciatus Curse. No one's ever done anything like that. You stood up while she was casting it on you and fought her. Then you protected me. If you weren't hurt, I'd be having my way with you right now Neville."
The door to the Infirmary burst open and Augusta Longbottom entered. Neville bit back the surprise. This was the first time he had ever seen his Gran away from the family home without her hand bag and without her Vulture Hat. Had his being hurt flustered her that much?
"Neville! How are you?"
"I'm ok Gran. Madam Pomfrey's taking good care of me." Behind Augusta another figure entered the room "Great Uncle Algie? Thank you for coming."
"I was visiting your Gran when we heard of your adventures Neville. Well done Lad. Ye showed the guts of a Croaker ye did."
"I just did what I had to do. LeStrange won't be bothering anyone else." It was then he remembered what he needed to do. "Gran, Great Uncle Algie, this is Hannah Abbott..." his mouth suddenly went dry. "My girlfriend. Hannah, My Grand Mother Augusta Longbottom and my Great Uncle Algernon Croaker."
Pleasantries were exchanged. Gentle conversation went on for another quarter hour before the day caught up with Neville and he drifted off to sleep. Madam Pomfrey then came to check on her patient, and ushered them all from the ward.
"Neville seems quite taken with you Miss Abbott."
"And I love him Lady Longbottom. He fought and killed for me today, I could never walk away from a man like that." A subtle warning to the older woman.
"As I thought. Might this be a good time to approach your parents about beginning negotiations?"
Hannah hadn't been expecting that. Somehow she had expected the Aristocratic Lady Longbottom to forbid her from seeing Neville again. "That might be wise. My family are merchants Lady Longbottom..."
"The house of Longbottom hasn't demanded dowries for more than two centuries Miss Abbott. If they had, then a young merchant's daughter named Augusta Croaker might never have joined the family." The older woman smiled. "Don't look so startled Miss Abbott, in a mere 60 years, you'll be able to pull off the Pureblood Matron act as well as I do." Augusta placed a hand on the young woman's shoulder. "I've treated Neville badly, constantly comparing him to his father, but you've made him happy. Please continue. He deserves it."
Daphne watched Harry leave for the Hospital Wing before turning to Hermione.
"What did you need to talk about?"
"Tracey and Draco, and what we're going to do about it."
"She told you?"
"Not the details, but yes. She told me. I was so deep into feeling sorry for myself she told me what had happened to her so that I would know I could get through it because she did."
"What did you want to do? Tracey's always just wanted to keep it quiet."
"Things have changed Daphne. To start with, you own Draco now, don't you?"
Daphne's eyes widened with the realization that Hermione was right.
"The first thing we need to do is get Tracey the hell out of the Slytherin dorms. Then we find out who else is being abused in this castle."
"And then?" Daphne asked. She never expected such a... Slytherin response from Hermione Granger. She was going to deal with her pain through revenge and inflicting pain on those who deserved it.
"And then we find out who has been protecting the rapists and abusers in this castle, this so called 'safest place'. And we destroy them."