Chapter 25 - Finale
"Somebody help me," shouted Ron as soon as he and Harry had apparated at St. Mungo's. Immediately, three healers raced toward them. One of them waved a stretcher toward them as the other two took Hermione from Ron and placed her on the stretcher.
"What happened," asked one of the healers as the other two raced down the hallway with the stretcher at their side, yelling things like, "looks like a twenty year old pregnant witch. Her vitals are shallow and she's losing a lot of blood. We need to get a blood replenisher in her now." Harry went to follow them, but the healer put his arm out and caught him across the chest. "You can't go back there."
"She's my wife," protested Harry, struggling to free himself.
The healer grabbed Harry's shoulders firmly. "There's no time to argue about this. What happened to her?"
"She was hit with the killing curse," supplied Ron.
The healer did a double take and his face went ashen.
"Please help her," said Harry in a strangled voice.
"How far along is she," the healer asked.
Harry continued to stare down the hall.
"Sir, how far along is her pregnancy," repeated the healer with more urgency in his voice.
"S… Seven months," stuttered Harry.
Immediately the Healer proceeded down the same hallway the other two healers had taken Hermione down.
Harry went to follow him, but Ron held him back. "Don't interfere. Let them work."
Harry turned to Ron with a blank face. "How was she not killed instantly? And why was there so much blood? I've seen the killing curse. It doesn't do that."
"I don't know?"
"Did he not hit her," questioned Harry hopefully. "Maybe when we fell she got hurt."
"No," said Ron. "She got hit with that curse. I saw it."
Harry turned and pounded the wall with his fist. "Why did she jump in front of me," he shouted sliding slowly against the wall to the floor.
"Ron," came a shout from down the hall. Ron turned to see his father, Bill and Ginny running toward him.
"Oh thank God," shouted Mr. Weasley, reaching for his son and pulling him close. "We just came from Godric's Hollow." He pulled Ron away and surveyed him. "Ron, you're bleeding," he said in horror. "Somebody help my son."
Ron looked down at himself for the first time. He felt a wave of nausea hit him. The bottom of his shirt and his pants were stained with Hermione's blood. "No," he said softly. "It's not mine. It was Hermione."
Ginny, who had knelt by Harry and was rubbing his back stared up at Ron in horror. "What happened to Hermione?"
"I don't know," said Ron in exasperation burying his face in his hands.
"It's ok, son," said Mr. Weasley pulling his son to him again.
"We've been to Godric's Hollow," said Bill softly. "We saw him."
Harry looked up, but said nothing.
"There was so much blood," Bill continued. "When we didn't find you anywhere, we assumed that if you were hurt, you'd come here."
"Bill, you should go back to Godric's Hollow. Let the Order know what's going on," said Mr. Weasley.
Bill nodded. "I'll be back when I can." With a pop, he disapparated.
Mr. Weasley led his children to chairs and then sent Ginny to get water for both Harry and Ron. He kneeled in front of the boys and was struck by how old they both suddenly looked.
"What happened," he asked softly. Harry looked away, but Ron cleared his throat and told his father everything from when he and Hermione had been taking a walk until they apparated with her to St. Mungo's."
Mr. Weasley remained quiet allowing Ron to get through his retelling without interruption. When he finished Mr. Weasley merely nodded. "Let me go see if I can find anything out about Hermione." He went to the receptionist at the front desk and spoke with her quietly for a few minutes, and then came back to the boys.
"She's going to have one of the Healers come and speak to us soon. Right now, they want to move us to a more private room." Ron glanced questioningly at his father, but one look at his face told him not to ask questions yet. Harry rose wordlessly and allowed himself to be led to another room.
Once they had settled, Mr. Weasley pulled Ron to the side. "Word is spreading fast," he whispered. "This isn't something that can be kept a secret for long. The hospital is worried that they may get overrun with well wishers and right now that's the last thing Harry or Hermione needs."
"Then she's alive," whispered Ron hopefully.
"Yes, but just barely. I couldn't get anymore out of the witch at the front desk."
Just then, the door to their room swung open and a Healer stepped inside. Harry was immediately on his feet. "How is she?"
"Alive," said the Healer and there was a collective sigh. "But just barely," he continued.
"Can I see her," asked Harry.
"Yes, in a minute," replied the Healer. "There are a few things you should know first." He indicated that they should all sit. "I'm sorry, Mr. Potter, but your wife has suffered a miscarriage."
"Oh no," moaned Harry. "No."
"I'm sorry," repeated the healer. "She may have been the first pregnant witch to ever be hit with the killing curse. We're not sure, but that may be the reason she's still alive. The only other person to ever survive that curse was you."
It took a minute for Harry to find his voice again. "Will she recover?"
"We're hopeful," said the healer. "We've been pumping blood replenishers into her continually and her vitals are beginning to get steady."
Harry nodded. "Is she awake? Can I see her, please?"
The healer nodded and they both stood. "There's one other thing, Mr. Potter. The curse was severe and there was so much fetal trauma that we don't believe she will ever be able to carry a child again."
Harry took the information and tucked it away in his brain to be processed later. The only thing keeping him on his feet now was knowing that he was going to see his wife.
"We'll wait here," said Ron, but Harry didn't hear him.
Each step became increasingly harder to take as he grew closer to her. The only thing he could tell himself was to keep walking and everything would be ok. As long as he could see her and touch her, he knew he could get them both through this.
The healer opened the door to Hermione's room and moved aside to allow Harry entry. Harry moved swiftly to her side and sat in the seat by her bed. "Hermione," he said quietly. "It's me, honey. I'm here."
Hermione turned her head toward Harry. She grimaced slightly. "Are you in pain? Should I have them give you something?"
She nodded and Harry turned back to the healer. "I'll see about getting her a potion so she can sleep," he said quietly and then left the room.
Harry turned his attention back to Hermione and leaned over and brushed a kiss on her forehead. "Thank God you're all right."
She parted her lips but no sound came out. Harry furrowed his brow and leaned in closer trying to hear her.
"Harry," she rasped.
He smiled and kissed her again. "Yes, it's me honey."
She shook her head and opened her mouth again.
"What?" Harry asked searching her face. "The healer's coming back with something for the pain."
She shook her head. "Baby," she whispered.
Harry froze and stared at her. He hadn't realized that they hadn't told her yet. In the moment he paused, Hermione read it all in his face. She closed her eyes and silent tears leaked out and down her cheeks.
"Hermione," Harry whispered. As he watched his wife absorb the awful truth, the full reality of what had happened hit him and he couldn't stop the flow from his own eyes.
Painfully, Hermione reached one hand to him and wiped a tear from his cheek. He took her hand in his own and held it tightly to his heart. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
There was a soft knock at the door and the healer that had led Harry to Hermione's room earlier poked his head in. "Am I interrupting?"
Harry wiped his face quickly, but maintained his grasp on Hermione's hand. "No, come in."
The healer moved to the other side of Hermione's bed. "Do you think you can sit up, Mrs. Potter?"
She nodded weakly.
"I'll help her," Harry said quickly and he leaned over her and placed an arm behind her back. As gently as he could he pulled her to a sitting position. She groaned and Harry winced for her. "I'm sorry, baby, just for a minute." When she was fully sitting, the healer brought the potion to her lips and she drank. When the healer pulled the potion away a drop fell from her lip onto her chin. Harry wiped it away tenderly and eased her back down. "There you go. You'll be feeling better soon."
She nodded and closed her eyes lazily. He waited a minute and then looked up at the healer. "Thank you, sir," he said quietly.
"Brandon," said the healer.
Harry looked up questioningly.
"My name is Brandon," he repeated.
"Are you ok, Mr. Potter?"
Harry's eyes were focused on Hermione. "Better than she is. But that's how it always is."
Harry looked up and met Brandon's eyes. "Forget it."
Brandon nodded and rose. "I slipped a sleeping agent into that potion. She'll be out for several hours."
"Thank you," said Harry.
"She's been through a lot tonight, but I think she'll recover eventually."
"Thank you," Harry said again.
Brandon considered Harry. "I'll leave you two alone then." He stood to leave, but turned before he reached the door. "I just wanted to say that our whole community owes you both a great debt."
Harry turned in surprise. "Has word traveled that fast?"
Brandon nodded. "The hospital is being swamped by well-wishers."
Harry tensed. "I don't want anyone near Hermione."
"Don't worry, we're not allowing anyone admittance to this floor."
His reassurance didn't make Harry feel any better. "Can you ask my friend Ron to come in?"
A few minutes later Ron entered the room. "How is she," he asked quietly.
"Sleeping now," said Harry softly. "We lost the baby."
Ron nodded. He had known as soon as he picked her up at Godric's Hollow. There was too much blood for the story to end any differently. "I'm sorry." He approached slowly and put one hand on Harry's shoulder. "You look exhausted."
Harry looked up. "You too."
Ron shrugged. "It's been a long day." He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. "I'm really tired of being here."
Harry looked at him in confusion.
"Not here," Ron corrected quickly. "Not today, here, with you guys. I mean this whole scenario. I'm tired of one of us always being the one lying in the hospital bed at the end of the day."
"I know," agreed Harry. "The two of you always seem to be the ones that get hurt, when it should be me."
"Don't go taking all the guilt," said Ron quickly. "You've spent your fair share of time lying in a hospital bed while Hermione and I waited and worried." Ron chuckled, but there was no laughter in it. "I guess you were right all along."
"Taking her away. You were right to take her away. I always thought you were..., well it doesn't matter now. The point is you were right all along."
"No," argued Harry. "I wasn't right. I was selfish. I was tired of responsibility and I wanted to leave. I took her with me because I was afraid to be alone. The truth is she would have been safer without me."
Ron knew arguing any further would be pointless. This was guilt that went back to Harry's earliest year. Ron knew he would probably carry it for the rest of his life, no matter how many times he was contradicted.
"Ron, I want you to do me a favor."
"Anything," said Ron quickly.
"I don't want anyone near Hermione."
"I don't understand."
"Brandon, Hermione's healer, said there were people here."
"Yeah," said Ron bitterly. "They want to see the other person who beat the curse. There are so many rumors flying around. Most of them have convinced it was you again. Some of them," Ron stopped embarrassed.
"Well, I didn't see any of this myself, Bill told me, but some of them have started saying," Ron paused again.
"What," asked Harry, feeling irritated.
"Well, they've always made a big deal about you, you know, the boy-who lived and all."
"And," encouraged Harry.
"Well, they're calling her the girl-who-lived now."
"What!" Harry exclaimed angrily.
"Shh," Ron hushed. Harry immediately looked at Hermione. She was still sleeping.
"This is ridiculous," said Harry angrily. "I want you to make sure none of those nuts come anywhere near Hermione. Who knows what they might try to do to her?"
"Of course," Ron agreed readily.
"Thanks," said Harry.
"I'm going to go now," said Ron walking towards the door. "Come get me if you need anything else."
"I will," said Harry distractedly. His full attention was back on Hermione, though all he could do was watch her sleep.
Harry stayed by her side all night while she slept. Ron was true to his word, nobody bothered either of them. In the morning, when she woke, Hermione appeared more rested. Brandon, her healer, had checked on her all night and in the morning said he was very pleased with her condition and hopeful that she would soon make a full recovery.
Harry sat as close as he could to her when Brandon sat with them and discussed everything that had happened to her body the night before. She sat very still clutching Harry's hand as they were told she might never have another child.
Harry thanked Brandon when he was finished and asked for some time alone. He looked at Hermione who had tears running down her face.
"Please don't cry, Hermione," said Harry.
She started crying harder. "I'm sorry," she cried softly.
"What do you have to be sorry for?" Asked Harry tenderly.
"Our baby. I should have listened to you when you said not to come home."
"No, don't do this. It's not your fault."
She didn't answer.
"If anything," he continued with tears springing to his eyes. "It's my fault. I should have known that he was never going to stop until I killed him. Dumbledore tried to tell me, but I was too stubborn and scared to listen." He brushed her hair out of her eyes and laid his head next to her so their foreheads were touching. "I was playing a game with our lives and if you had…, I just never would have gotten over that. Never."
"I wish," began Hermione, but she couldn't continue.
"What do you wish?"
She took a deep breath. "I wish it had been me. Then at least you would have had our son. Oh Harry, I'll never be able to give you a family now." She began to sob uncontrollably.
He held her tightly. "Hermione, I have no family without you. You're my life. Don't you understand how much I love you? It doesn't matter if you can have another baby or not. As long as I have you nothing else matters."
"But you wanted our baby so much."
A few tears slipped down his face and he held her tighter. "You were the first person in my life to tell me they loved me and you were the first person I said I love you to. You are the only girl I've ever loved. I'll spend the rest of our lives missing our son, but in that same thought, I'll be thanking God that I still have you."
"I love you," she whispered.
They held each other for a long time until eventually he felt her relax in his arms. He laid her back down on the hospital bed and was glad to see she had fallen back asleep. The more she slept the sooner she'd heal and the sooner he'd be able to take her home.
Home, he thought. But they didn't have a home anymore. Because of him they didn't have anything. Their apartment, hundreds of miles away wasn't home. No one knew where they lived, no one they loved anyway. He thought that their baby would finally make it a home, but now that dream was dead.
"Grimmault Place," the thought hit him suddenly and the words just spilled out of his mouth. 'I can still give her a home. I can give back to her everything I took two years ago.' He looked down at her excitedly and brushed a kiss on her cheek. "I'll be back," he whispered.
Harry left the room in a hurry, in search of Ron. He found him quickly enough in the floor's waiting room.
Ron stood quickly, a look of panic flashing across his face. "What? What happened?"
"Nothing," said Harry quickly. "She's fine. She's sleeping again."
Ron let out a deep breath.
"Do you think you could go sit with her for a while? There's something I have to do."
"Sure, of course," agreed Ron easily.
"Thanks," said Harry and then he left the room. He made his way down to the first floor of the hospital to one of the many fireplaces in the hospital. He grabbed some floo powder and threw it into the fire. Then he stepped in and said clearly, "Number 12 Grimmault Place."
Harry stepped out into the house he had run away from two years ago and surprisingly he felt good being back. It felt familiar. Harry slowly made his way through the various rooms waiting for the assault of pain that usually accompanied his presence in this house, but it never came.
He made his way down to the kitchen and dining room and was surprised to find he was not alone.
"Hello Professor Dumbledore."
Harry stared at Dumbledore uncertainly and waited for him to continue.
"I was going to come to the hospital to see Hermione, but something told me you'd be by today."
"How did you know?" Asked Harry.
"Because there's no reason to run anymore."
Harry didn't know how to respond.
"What happened, Harry, the other night," began Dumbledore.
"He came for her. Just like I always knew he would."
"And you stopped him once and for all," said Dumbledore with something like pride in his voice. "You did what you were born to do. You saved our world."
"I wasn't trying to save the world, just my wife."
"And you did," said Dumbledore.
Harry shook his head sadly. "But we lost the baby."
"I know and I'm sorry," said Dumbledore sympathetically.
Harry didn't want to talk about this. "Why are you here, sir?"
Dumbledore smiled. "I came to return this to you," he said pushing a piece of paper across the table to Harry.
Harry picked it up. "I don't understand."
"It's the deed to the house. That's what you came here for. Isn't it?"
"Yes," said Harry honestly. "When Hermione comes home, I want to take her to a home, to our home."
"Then do it."
"It can't be that simple, nothing ever is for us."
Dumbledore smiled again. "It can be that simple. The wards around this house are still up and I am still the secret keeper for its location. You wouldn't have to worry about her safety here."
"What about the Order," asked Harry.
"It's no longer necessary, not on its past scale."
"What about the Death Eaters that are still out there?"
"We'll deal with them. Don't get me wrong, Harry. They are still dangerous, but without Voldemort to unite them, they will eventually fall."
Harry nodded feeling reassured.
"You bring Hermione back here. I'll make sure you both have everything you need."
"Thank you, sir." And then Harry did something he had wanted to do for a long time. He crossed the room and put his arms around Dumbledore in a tight hug.
Dumbledore returned the embrace warmly. "Please forgive me Harry."
Harry pulled away surprised. "For what?"
"For not doing better by you, for not protecting you from the beginning."
"I'm not angry anymore," said Harry. "I mean, I was for a time. So angry that I ran away, but somehow now, I don't know, I feel different." Harry looked at his watch. "I'm sorry, but I really have to get back to Hermione."
"I know," returned Dumbledore. "Go, I'll make sure this place is ready for the two of you."
Harry smiled. "Thank you." He turned to leave the room. "Oh and sir, I know Hermione would want to see you. I hope you'll be one of our first guests, when I bring her home."
Dumbledore nodded. "I would be honored."
The days passed for Harry and Hermione slowly. Her recovery was slow, but steady and in five days she was ready to leave.
Harry packed her bag while she watched him from her bed. "I think I'm going to miss this."
"What," he asked grinning.
"You, taking care of me."
Harry left. "I'll always take care of you."
"You always have," she said a little more seriously.
He got up and went to her. "I can't wait to take care of you later," he said as he kissed her deeply.
Hermione smiled against his mouth. "That may pose a problem," she murmured. "The Burrow is awfully crowded. It may be hard to get that kind on privacy."
"I don't know," said Harry stroking her cheek. "We may have more privacy than you think."
"Mmm, that sounds mysterious," she sighed.
Harry and Hermione turned to the door to see Ron standing in the doorway.
"Are you two finished yet?"
"Killjoy," said Hermione sticking her tongue out at him.
He smiled and went to pick up her bag. "I've got a car waiting out back for us. "There are like a hundred people at the front of the hospital."
Hermione sighed and Harry narrowed his eyes.
"Don't worry, Harry. It's not like you haven't had to deal with his before," said Hermione.
"I know. I just didn't want you to have to deal with it too."
"I don't care. Nothing could bother me on the day of my release from my sterile prison."
"I'll try not to take that personally," said Brandon entering the room.
"Brandon," said Hermione smiling. "I didn't mean you of course."
Harry approached him with his hand held out. "We both wanted to thank you."
Brandon returned the shake. "Just doing my job."
"Maybe," said Harry. "But thanks anyway."
"Ready?" Asked Ron.
"Yes," said both Harry and Hermione eagerly.
Hermione paused long enough to give Brandon a hug and then the three of them left. Ron opened the back door for Hermione and Harry slid in next to her.
"Oh come on, I hate sitting up front alone. I feel like a chauffer."
"Too bad," said Harry pulling the back door closed. "I want to make out in the backseat with my wife."
Hermione giggled and Ron rolled his eyes. He got in the front seat and pulled the car onto the highway.
Harry sat as close to Hermione as he could, stroking her hair, staring into her eyes and feeling immeasurably lucky that they had been given this second chance. He was determined to get it right this time. "I love you," he whispered into her ear.
She turned and kissed him lightly. "I love you too." They smiled happily at each other. Then Hermione glanced out the window. "Hey, Ron you git, this isn't the way to the Burrow."
Ron laughed in the front seat, but didn't say anything. Hermione turned back to Harry questioningly. He sighed and pulled something out of his back pocket. "You're too observant for your own good. Here, you're going to have to wear this now." Harry held out a scarf and held it up to her face.
"What's this," she asked suspiciously.
"I have a surprise. Come on, wear it." Harry held up the scarf again.
"Ok," said Hermione slowly, turning her head so Harry could place the scarf over her face. He pulled her close to him as they traveled the rest of the way home.
Finally, Ron pulled the car over and went to the back to get the bags. He hung back while Harry led Hermione into the house.
"Ok, you have to be very quiet," he whispered to Hermione.
"Why," she whispered back.
"Because if you don't you might wake the dead," he muttered under his breath.
"What?" She whispered back.
"Shh," hushed Harry. He led her past the front hallway, without incident, and into the next room.
"Ready?" He asked.
He removed the scarf from around her face and stepped back.
Hermione looked around. "I don't understand," she said slowly. "Why are we here?"
Harry put his arms around her waist and pulled her close. "We're home."
"That is if you want this to be our home."
"Our home? You mean we can stay?" Her voice grew excited. "We can stay in England?"
He nodded. "I was a fool for leaving the first time and I knew everyday we were away how much you missed home, but I was too selfish and scared to care."
"No," she protested, but he placed his hand over her mouth.
"I want to live, raise our family, and we will have a family, and grow old here with you. If that's what you want. If not, we can go right back to the Burrow and tomorrow you and I can start house hunting." He removed his hand from her mouth and waited.
"What kind of wife would I be if I asked you to stay here, to live here? Being here is so painful for you. You told me, that week."
"The most beautiful week of my life," he said.
"The week I fell in love with my best friend," she replied, remembering their words to each other.
"I'm not afraid of this house anymore. I'm not afraid of anything anymore, not really." He waited, but she didn't say anything.
"Say yes, Hermione," said Ron walking in. "Your bags weigh a ton."
She smiled at Harry, and then laughed. "Yes."
They embraced tightly, laughing and feeling at last as if they had finally come home.
Author's Note: That's all folks. I hope you enjoyed reading the story, because I loved writing it. Now I have a favor to ask. Review!!!! Tell me what you liked and what you didn't, because I plan to keep writing and I only want to improve. Thanks to everyone who reviewed.