Gravity of Love : Archives
Title: Bloody Handprints
Rating: PG-13; just for language.
Setting: About two and a half years post-Hogwarts. Harry and Hermione's home.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the actually story itself. All characters and all things Harry Potter are owned by JK Rowling.
A/N: This is part of a compilation of COMPLETELY separate one-shot Harry x Hermione fanfics. So, PLEASE, do not review saying how much you can't wait to see what happens next. This story is DONE.
"Harry, dear. We're out of milk."
Hermione's voice echoed from the kitchen into the bedroom. The refrigerator door slammed shut and the soft whisper of slippered footsteps across the wooden hallway grew louder as she approached the open doorway. She peeked around the doorframe, her thick and rather bushy curls falling over her shoulders.
Did you hear me, Harry?" She asked, somewhat tentatively.
Harry looked up from the rumpled parchment he'd been scribbling on. The messy lines he'd written glistened wetly in the shine of the overhead candles. Seeing his wife of a year and a half hovering uncertainly outside the door of their bedroom made him smile. He dropped his quill and stood up. The chair grated against the wood as it was pushed back.
"I didn't interrupt anything important, did I?" She asked. Her tone was nearly apologetic.
Harry grinned boyishly down at her, having a height advantage of several inches. She returned the gesture with her own soft smile. Her smile had been one of the first things that had drawn Harry to her in the first place. It was pure and earthy and simple. No hidden meanings – just a kind and caring smile that filled you up inside and made you want to smile in return.
"You," He said, brushing the curls from her cheek. "Are a welcomed distraction."
Hermione blushed. She had to stand on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek, but she didn't seem to mind. A loud gurgle bounded off the hallway walls. Hermione stepped into the room, bouncing a happily drooling baby on her hip.
"Oy! 'Ello!" Harry exclaimed, his face lighting up at the sight of his son.
The lines of stress that seemed to perpetually crease his forehead melted away and the bright, happy spark was back in his emerald eyes. He looked as youthful and carefree as when Hermione had first seen him, that fateful day on the Hogwarts Express all those years ago.
But these joyous moments with his family were much too normal for the "great Harry Potter" and just as few and far between. Nothing better than being wanted dead to age a person prematurely.
"Who do we have here?" He chuckled, pulling his son into his arms.
Hermione relinquished him easily and wrapped her now empty arms about her waist. Harry wiggled his fingers into his son's plump tummy. The baby giggled loudly. It squirmed in Harry's arms, plastic diaper crinkling. More drool dribbled down his chin.
"Right, Sirius," Hermione tuttered, pulling an off-white rag from the pocket of her jeans. She used it to wipe her son's face clean. "It won't do if you get spittle all over Daddy."
Harry chuckled, "Let 'im be Hermione."
He lifted Sirius high in the air and brought him back down, resulting in incoherent babblings and high-pitched giggles. Hermione gave a wide smile as Harry spun their child around in a circle making ridiculous airplane noises. Sirius hiccupped loudly as his airplane ride reached its conclusion then resumed his giggling with fervor. As giggles died to wet chortles, Harry hitched his son higher in his arms and turned his gaze to Hermione. Small, chubby fingers wrapped around a raven lock of hair and held fast.
"He's a free spirit," Harry chuckled. "Just like Sirius."
They both gazed fondly at the small child, before Harry broke the silence. "Does he always drool this much?"
Laughter fell from Hermione's coral colored lips and she lifted a hand to her mouth to stifle it. It was an empty gesture.
"Yes, he does," She answered after allowing herself a moment of amusement. "Just like his father."
Harry did not miss the quick wink or the jesting tone in her voice. He pouted and Hermione was suddenly taken aback by the acute resemblance between father and son. It wasn't as if their uncanny similarities were fresh news to her. Rather, it felt to Hermione as if she'd never really noticed it before.
Sirius hair, while hopeful wisps of coffee brown at birth, was already darkening to match Harry's ebony crop, and was just as unruly. The soft wavy curls, practically the only sign of Hermione's genetics, had a mind of their own. Most days, Hermione just opted to leave them well enough alone. Harry had never seemed to have a problem with it when they were kids. In fact, she'd always found his rugged boyishness attractive. Sirius was staring at her with wide emerald eyes, Harry's genetics prevailing again, as his father wiped the spit from his chin with the tail of his tie.
"Harry!" She exclaimed. She smacked his hand sharply and gave him a reproachful look. He just chuckled as she fussed with his tie.
She sighed, "Look what you've gone and done. This tie is ruined." She said matter-of-factly.
Harry rolled his eyes, "It's hardly ruined."
Hermione snorted and gave him her patented 'shows-how-much-you-know' look. For some odd reason Harry felt as if he really should have read Hogwarts: A History.
"Drool and silk are two very non-mixy things."
Her fingers were quickly working at the knot he'd slid down to half-mast. Harry continued to be nonplussed, "So I'll just have to get a new one, now won't I?"
She frowned up at him, pulling the silk tie from his neck. "That's not the point."
Harry grabbed both her wrists in one hand, effectively stopping her menstruations. Hermione flushed. Her fingers convulsed reflexively on the crumpled ball of silk in her hand. He pulled her body close and slowly released her wrists. Now pinned between their chests, Hermione's hands found no other course than to grab fistfuls of his white dress shirt. She tilted her chin upwards, her long mahogany lashes dropping over her honey toned eyes. Harry's hand was firm and comforting on the small of her back. He ducked his head down, lips just grazing hers. Hermione's eyes fluttered open to meet the love-filled gaze of her husband. She gave a short heady laugh, her warm breath caressing his cheeks, and licked her lips before pulling away.
"I need to put Sirius down for his nap," She whispered sounding nearly breathless.
A warm smile touched his lips and he looked at the tiny child now dozing in the crook of his arm. One chubby arm was still stretched out, fingers tangled in his hair.
With gentle arms Hermione lifted the small Sirius from his perch, effortlessly extricating his tiny hand from her husband's hair. Harry observed the pair with unbridled pride and unmatched love. He watched the woman he loved carefully brush the bangs from their son's closed eyes. The melody of a song he couldn't quite place echoed in his ears as she hummed in time to the soothing rocking of the child in her arms.
She looked up at him suddenly, starling him. A warm glow rose in her cheeks and candlelight danced in her eyes. "Are you sure I didn't disrupt anything?"
She glanced over at his desk. Amidst the clutter of odds 'n ends, staggered piles of books, and a stack of rolled parchments the paper Harry had been working on sat unobtrusively in the center. It was void of any writing; secret business and all that.
Harry didn't look. "Absolutely sure. I know that I've been kept busy with all this stuff for the Order, but I want you to know..." He trailed the backs of his fingers along her cheek. Hermione tilted her head towards the caress, "...I always have time for you. And Sirius."
"Thinks I'm dead," He finished for her. "We're safe. Together."
Hermione lingered a moment longer before retiring into the adjoining room; once a storage area, now Sirius' nursery.
With the quiet sound of Hermione's singing drifting from the half-open doorway, Harry set about tidying their bedroom. With a wave of his wand the mess littering the desk began putting itself away in various drawers and cabinets. Another wave and the heavy draperies slid shut against the blaring afternoon sun. The chandelier that hung from the ceiling's center was lit with no more than a flick of the wrist. It was followed by the candelabras that flanked each side of the grand canopy bed.
He turned at the sound of footsteps and watched Hermione backing slowly out of the nursery. She closed the door softly being her, easing the handle in place to make as little noise as possible. When she turned around to see the room's altered state she froze.
"Harry?" She voiced, perplexed.
He crossed the room to her side. Strong arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her towards the bed. The light filtering down from the crystal chandelier highlighted her cheeks catching the pink flush.
"What are you up to?" She demanded beaming up at him.
He smirked and scooped her up into his arms. She squealed in surprise. Kicking her legs in delight she grabbed fistfuls of his shirt to make sure she didn't fall.
"Well, Sirius is taking a nap..." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Hermione laughed. "...it seemed like good advice."
He laid her down upon the bed, chocolate curls fanning about her head. The loose-knit sweater she was wearing slid down off her shoulders, baring the graceful curve of her neck, elegant collar bone, and sun-kissed skin. The navy cloth stood out brightly in a sea of white sheets.
She lifted her arms to pull him down beside her and the jumper slid up baring the toned flesh of her stomach. Harry wiggled his fingers across the exposed skin, and Hermione squirmed as he tickled her. Her delighted laughter faded to a soft smile as he replaced his fingers with his mouth and pulled the covers over them both.
The phone was ringing.
"Harry! Get the telephone – it's probably Ron."
Harry obliged, digging through the clutter upon his desk to find the buried telephone. "'Ello?" he said quickly, hoping to catch the caller before they hung up.
There was no reply.
Harry pushed his glasses higher up on the bridge of his nose, "Hello?" He repeated. The dead tone resounded in his ear. He lowered the phone and stared at it cautiously.
"Who was it, dear?" Came Hermione's voice from some distant part of the house. Harry shrugged.
"I dunno. They hung up." He said simply.
"That's it. Tomorrow you're moving that phone to where you can actually reach it in time."
Harry chuckled and set the phone back down. No sooner had he done so than it began to ring again. It vibrated slightly and started sliding sideways across the stack of parchment. He picked it up before Hermione could ask.
"Hello?" He asked slowly.
Harry held the phone away from his ear. A grin was tugging at his lips, "Ron. There's no need to shout, remember?"
Harry could almost see his best friend's face turning as red as his hair.
"Sorry mate," Ron apologized in a normal voice.
Harry leaned back in his chair. The phone was cradled between his jaw and shoulder. "Hey, Ron?"
"Was that you calling just a moment ago?"
"Probably!" The red-head exclaimed in exasperation. "You know I can never figure out these bloody contraptions!"
Harry had to laugh. For all his good points, and there were many, Ron was completely hopeless when it came to anything Muggle. He and Hermione had given their friend a cell phone for his birthday last month, and he had yet to truly master the finer mechanics.
"Practice makes prefect," Harry muttered, to which Ron chuckled. "So why did you call?"
"Oh! Right. Well I just got off from my shift at the Ministry and was wondering if I could swing by for a visit."
"Is that Ron?" Hermione called.
Harry covered the mouthpiece and replied in the affirmative, "He wants to stop by."
"We'd love for you to come," Hermione's voice was slightly crackly in Harry's ear. She'd picked up the kitchen phone.
"Hello, Ron." Hermione replied warmly.
"I'm bloody starving. Any chance of getting a spot of dinner? I know you 'n Harry eat late."
"Sure," Harry said. "Hermione just started dinner.
"Maybe I should just pick something up on the way," he teased.
Hermione huffed into the phone, "Really, Ron. My cooking isn't that bad."
Ron was guffawing loudly. Harry shook his head with a smile listening to the two friends quarrel much like when they were children.
"There'll be no dessert for you, Ronald Weasley, if you keep that up." He heard his wife say.
"Now that...I won't allow," was Ron's immediate reply. "You always did make the best desserts, 'Mione."
Hermione snorted, but Harry knew she was beaming at the compliment, "Well you should have thought of that before you insulted my culinary skills."
"How can I make it up to you?"
"Pick up some milk on your way and I'll consider giving you a brownie."
Ron chuckled and agreed.
"One gallon of whole milk, one quart of skim, two cans of condensed milk, and half a pint of 'half and half'. Oh, and make sure you grab one from the back because the ones in the front are spoiled." She said in a rush.
Both men laughed. Harry's died away as an all too common aroma reached his senses.
"Hermione...what's that smell?"
He heard her curse and the kitchen phone click off. Ron was laughing harder than before. Harry tipped back his chair to look down the hallway. Thick, gray smoke was spilling from the kitchen. He got up from his chair and went to close the nursery doors.
"What happened?" Ron chuckled.
"She burned the chicken," Harry replied.
"Do you want me to pick something up from the market?"
Harry sighed and rubbed his forehead, "Thanks, Ron."
"Harry!" Hermione called despairingly form the kitchen, "I don't understand. I didn't do anything wrong this time!"
Harry leaned against the doorframe, still holding the phone to his ear. "Did you follow the cookbook exactly?"
"Of course," she shot back haughtily. "I'll even show you."
Harry rolled his eyes, though she couldn't see the gesture, "How is showing me the way it was 'spose to turn out going to help?"
"Domestics was never Hermione's strong suit," Ron commented and Harry had to agree. A brilliant witch without a doubt, but Hermione was a near disaster in the kitchen and a complete one in every other aspect of household duties.
"I swear I put it right here..." Hermione murmured. She looked around the kitchen in confusion.
"It couldn't have just gotten up and walked off, 'Mione." Harry called from down the hall.
"Could too!" She shot back. Childish. "It is a wizarding cookbook."
"Wouldn't you have noticed it was alive by now?"
Hermione scowled at him, though, in all fairness, he probably couldn't see it. "I'm sorry I didn't think to check for legs when I bought it." Her drawn out words dripped sarcasm.
"Listen to the two of you," Ron snickered. "Bickering like a pair of old biddies."
"We're both twenty, Ron. We can't even legally drink," Harry snorted. "Hardly old."
Hermione sighed, "Maybe I brought it into the bedroom?"
Harry glanced around the brightly lit room. Twilight twinkled through the window. "I don't see it," he told her.
She was already walking towards him, "You couldn't find your head if it wasn't attached to your shoulders."
A deafening boom rocked the small house the kitchen exploded. Hermione screamed. Ron was shouting something, but the phone lay forgotten on the floor. Harry stumbled into the hallway. Thick, black smoke filled the small area obscuring nearly everything from sight. Bright, orange flames were licking the hallway doorframe. The kitchen was on fire.
"Hermione? HERMIONE?!" His voice was growing frantic. He couldn't see her. Debris from the explosion was still raining down. Bits of plaster and dry wall crumbled from the ceiling.
There was a groan almost right beside him, and Harry dropped to his hands and knees. His hands flew across the floor like tiny spiders. Searching. Another foot down the hall his fingers brushed the bushy hair of Hermione; the blast had thrown her against the wall. Relief flooded through him in a sharp release as she reacted to his touch, groaning and trying to sit up. She was alright.
"Thank god!" He whispered, pulling her into his arms.
She coughed loudly, wheezing in the smoke filled air, "H-Harry?"
"Yeah, I'm here. Everything's going to be okay, but we need to get into the bedroom. Can you walk?"
She nodded into his chest and he pulled them both to their feet. Together they stumbled into the bedroom.
"It wasn't me this time, Harry. I swear." She mumbled into his shirt.
He rubbed her back soothingly, "I know. I know."
There was another loud bang deep in the house. They were both instantly alert. Hermione looked up at him with wide brown eyes. "There's someone in the house?"
He didn't look down at her. His eyes were narrowed peering into the darkened hallway. A shadowed figure appeared in front of the flaming kitchen doorway. Hermione's face hardened and her wand appeared in her hand. Harry blanched suddenly.
"Hermione...lock the door," he said slowly.
Her eyes didn't leave the approaching intruder, but the disbelief was evident in her voice, "What?!"
He swallowed hard, "...my wand was in the kitchen."
Hermione let out a low breath. Inching forward along the side of the door, she eased it shut with the toe of her slipper. She locked it tight and cast a warding charm over it. They didn't talk about the implications of Harry's statement.
"Make sure Sirius is alright." He whispered.
Hermione disappeared into the adjoining room. She returned quickly. Harry had closed the curtains and shoved their bureau up against the door. It was a futile effort. A wooden dresser would not hinder someone with a wand.
"He's fine," She reported. "Awake and unharmed. I gave him a bottle to keep him quiet."
"Harry. What's going on? What's happening?"
"It's him," Harry said grimly.
He nodded. Ron was sure to go straight to the Order, but what if help was too far away? They couldn't floo; there was no fireplace in the bedroom. Hedwig was off delivering letters and if they tried to send Crookshanks out the window with a letter he'd surely be killed.
...maybe Voldemort wouldn't think to cut the phone lines.
"How did he find us?" Hermione whispered.
She didn't seem to be talking to him, but he looked over at her nonetheless. She was sitting on the edge of the bed one arm wrapped about her waist, the other pointing her wand steadily at the barricaded door. Crumbled plaster stuck in the thick bushy hair that framed her heart-shaped face now smeared with soot. Her clothes were equally disheveled from the explosion with her jeans even sporting a nasty burn hold near the hem.
He thought back on all that had happened that day, and sick realization formed in the pit of his stomach. He stared down at the phone still clutched in his hand and closed his eyes.
"He called us," He chuckled as he said it, but it was hollow sounding.
"Voldemort...called us?" Hermione echoed slowly. Harry nodded. His weak laughter died away. Hermione could barely muster a smile at the irony of it, "If we survive this we're buying caller id."
Harry's face became serious, "We will survive this." He told her firmly.
Hermione nodded, though the ball of fear in her stomach was trying to persuade her otherwise, "You're right."
Their bedroom door exploded. As the first hooded figure began scrambling over the broken pieces of their bureau, Hermione lifted her wand without hesitation.
"Stupefy!" The red jet of light hit him square in the chest. He fell forward onto the pile of debris and did not move again.
There were more Death Eaters in the hallway. They all surged forward, trampling over their fallen comrade and pushing his unconscious body aside. Hermione shouted the spell again and another black-cloaked body hit the floor. But the spell only attacked one person at a time, and the Dearth Eaters were pouring in too fast for Hermione to handle. Harry had to do something – anything – to help.
He ran over to the bed and wrenched the candelabra off the wall. He grabbed one of the candles and pulled. It was stuck. He twisted and yanked and finally pulled the wax stick from its holder. Hot, burning wax dribbled down the back of his hand, but the adrenaline pumping through him drowned out the minor pain. He shifted the candle so that he was holding the very bottom between his thumb and index finger.
"Just like a knife..." he told himself, drawing on his auror training, and released the candle. It spun end over end in a brilliant streak of fire into the crowd of Death Eaters. A man screamed as his robes caught fire. Harry wrenched another candle from its socket.
A new candle was thrown. It hit a Death Eater in the temple and they crumpled to the ground.
"Stupefy!" The unconscious man went tumbling backwards, knocking his comrades over. A well-aimed candle landed in their tangled midst setting several robes on fire. One body wrenched itself violently from the knot of screaming followers and ran shrieking down the hallway and out of sight. The pain-filled screams echoing back into the bedroom were most definitely female. One of them managed to get a spell off, but it went just wide of Hermione, blasting a past off the bed frame.
"Stupefy!" There didn't seem to be an end to the number of Death Eaters pouring into their home.
Harry threw the empty candelabra at the nearest Death Eater and grabbed another one. The heavy brass candle holder hit the intruder in the head and he hit the floor heavily. He had just pulled a candle out and was aiming it at the largest bunch of Death Eaters when a freezing gust suddenly filled the room.
A huge blast of wind slammed into them both, and he and Hermione were bowled over.
Hermione gave a shout, crossing her arms over her face to shield it. The force of the blast picked her up off her feet and threw her backwards across her bed. Her head collided with the headboard as her back broke straight through a canopy post. She hit the far wall and bounced forward face-down onto the wood floor. Harry didn't have to see his wife crash through the bed frame for the same invisible force had thrown him back as well. He smashed into the chair as he tried to grab a hold of the desk. It broke into a dozen pieces and did nothing to slow him. He hit the bookshelf that lined the far wall Hermione had hit only milliseconds before. Books fell down upon his prone body and he lifted his arms against the wind to protect his face. The bookshelf teetered a moment, but the heavy wood did not fall. The wind died as abruptly as it had formed. Harry struggled to lift the weight of books from his back. A loud crackling noise shot through the odd silence. Harry felt his heart stop.
"Hermione..." he whispered.
The canopy, unable to bear its load with only its remaining two legs, lurched and snapped off completely from the bed. It slid off to the side and balanced for a moment against the wall before it collapsed.
Someone was screaming, and it took Harry a moment to realize it was him, "HERMIONE!"
Had she been under the canopy when it collapsed? Was she hurt? Was she dead? Tears burned the corners of his eyes, and he couldn't bring himself to think about it.
"You son of a bitch!" Adrenaline made him strong and he pulled himself from beneath half a library of books to run at the tall figure standing at the head of his attackers.
"Grab him," Voldemort hissed.
His followers swarmed forward, encircling Harry. He fought them as best he could, but he was wandless and their sheer numbers beat him down. Two Death Eaters grabbed his arms and held him firmly as the others stood just out of reach of his wildly flailing legs. One pulled their wand on him and muttered a spell Harry couldn't remember. It felt like a water balloon had exploded on his chest. He lost his breath for a moment and an icy, liquid-like feeling was trickling down his stomach.
"Get the girl. Bring her to me," Voldemort ordered. Three robed figures moved from behind the dark wizard and circled around to the far side of the destroyed bed.
"No," Harry meant to say, but it came out as a garbled sort of groan. It was hard to talk. "NO!' He shouted forcefully; more clearly this time.
Voldemort turned to him, his face in shadow beneath the cowl of his robes. He seemed to be surveying Harry with interest.
"What...what are you going to do to her?" His words were slurred. The spell seemed to have been some sort of tranquilizer.
Voldemort laughed, and the sound of it made Harry wince. It was harsh and grating like nails on a chalkboard. An icy tremor raced down Harry's spine as the monstrous form of laughter faded away.
"I'm going to kill her."
Harry screamed – a wild, animalistic sound. He tried to pull free of his captors, but his body was like lead. His head lolled on his shoulders and his body shuddered as the paralyzing effects of the spell began to take effect.
Harry's head turned towards the speaker. Voldemort's face, however, remained facing Harry, though, the direction of his eyes was indiscernible in the shadow. The three Death Eaters were knee deep in the remains of Harry's bed. Broken spears of wood jutted out in all directions covered by the gauzy cloth canopy top and buried in the white sheets that had slipped from the mattress. A small splattering of blood marred one of the blankets, the bright crimson standing out harshly against the backdrop of white silk.
"The girl. She's not here." The man was cowering, hunched over slightly as if expecting a blow.
Harry sighed in relief. She was alive. He felt Voldemort's eyes on him – another icy tremor across his spine – and he turned a defiant gaze to the evil man that had haunted him all his life. Then Voldemort turned to the three Death Eaters and his face was caught in the light of the remaining candelabras. It was hardly a face at all. It was triangle-shaped with angular features and a wide forehead that narrowed down into a flat, reptilian nose. His skin was gray and peeling in small patches all across his face giving it the appearance of scales. The haunting red eyes were the same; slanted and glowing. Broken, jagged teeth like fangs slipped over thin lips as they twisted into a warped form of a smile.
The "snake-man's" inhuman eyes met his and Harry felt as if he'd been plunged in a freezing lake. His eyes rolled back into his head and he felt his stomach drop. The screams of his parents filled his head. They echoed over and over again, bouncing between his ears, repeating again and again. Then it was gone, one gnarled, reptilian hand pulling the cowl back in place.
Harry gasped, gulping in great breaths of air and sagging forward. His head was pounding and odd lights were dancing in front of his eyes. "She's apparated already," he choked. "Probably a thousand miles away by now."
Voldemort gave a raspy laugh, "No..." Harry's eyes darted from Voldemort to the debris piled between the bed and the wall. "I know your type. Your parents were the same. Now they're dead..."
Harry lunged at him – his face was contorted with rage. But the tranquilizer spell was doing its job – his limbs were nothing more than limp pieces of flesh.
"No..." Voldemort continued. "She's here. She would not leave the child."
Hermione didn't dare breathe. She watched the robe obscured feet move around to the other side of the bed. Her heart was pounding in her ears. As Voldemort spoke her fear only grew larger, settling in a large ball at the pit of her stomach. Fear was good. Fear produced adrenaline and adrenaline made her stronger. Dust was filtering beneath her nose and it took a great deal of willpower not to sneeze.
"I want this girl found. Tear...this...room...apart!"
She could see Harry from where she was hidden. He had fallen to his knees within the circle of black robes and dark shoes. There was nothing she could do for him. The fact that Voldemort hadn't killed him yet was puzzling, but hardly reassuring. She knew in her heart that Harry's life, as well as her own, meant absolutely nothing compared to the life that lay just in the next room – completely unaware. No matter how much she loved Harry, and no matter the pain she felt at abandoning him, she was going to sacrifice him to save their child. They'd lived their lives. Voldemort would not touch her son.
The man screamed as she drove the wooden stake through the toe of his shoes. Dark red liquid bubbled up around what had once been a crossbeam of her canopy. She'd hit flesh. He fell back on the floor, scrambling to pull the object out, but Hermione was already sliding from beneath the bed, kicking her legs furiously and pulling herself forward with one hand as the other held her wand out.
"Get her..." Voldemort hissed.
A hand grabbed her ankle and yanked her backwards. The back of her head slammed against the frame of the bed, and she was left seeing white. Her free hand gripped the frame as she kicked at the man with both legs.
"Stupefy!" The man that had been approaching her crumpled to the floor in a burst of red light.
She wrenched her back and put everything she had into wriggling free of the Death Eater's grip. The springs scraped along her back and she knew she was bleeding. The hand released her and, instantly, she was out from beneath her bed. She leapt to her feet as four Death Eaters converged on her.
She ignored them, running straight for the nursery. "Wingardium Leviosa!"
She waved her wand behind her and side-stepped the same tranquilizing spell that had incapacitated her husband. She heard the Death Eaters' cries of surprise as the heap of wood and silk heaved itself into the air and flew over the bed. She crashed into the closed door, fumbling to get it open. She flung the door open and disappeared inside, slamming it shut behind her just seconds before a blasted scorch mark scarred the wall where she'd been just standing.
Hermione ran to the crib where Sirius was laying quietly. The mouthpiece of a Sesame Street bedecked bottle was held in his chubby fingers. She scooped him up and pressed him close to her chest. Relief was overtaking fear. Her son was safe.
Everything's going to be okay, love," she whispered, kissing the top of his head. "Mommy's here now." There was a crash as the levitating mass fell atop the stunned Death Eaters.
She shifted him to her left arm, still holding him close. With her right hand now free she lifted her wand and turned to face the door, putting her back to a corner. Someone kicked the door open.
Black bodies swarmed into the nursery. They looked utterly out of place standing beside the cartoon covered walls. One of them walked right into the quidditch mobile hanging above the doorway. Miniature bludgers and quaffle were interspersed with wooden brooms that quivered slightly whenever a ball drifted near. There was even a tiny golden snitch that sparkled and flapped its wings. Hermione had made the ornament herself when she'd found out they were expecting a boy. The Death Eater snarled in annoyance and ripped it down.
They were staring to advance. She glared back defiantly. She assumed by their hesitance to attack they were supposed to capture her alive. Big mistake. She turned her face away and lifted her wand.
"Avada Kedavra," She recited evenly.
A body hit the floor and she turned back to face them. A Death Eater near the middle had been the recipient of her killing curse. They had taken a step back and were staring at her with mute shock. The good guys weren't supposed to kill people; it was against the rules. Nobody moved. Sirius was silent in her arms.
"Well done, Mrs. Potter." Voldemort's gravely voice entered the room. He was standing in the doorway. Beside him, a completely immobile Harry was propped against the wall.
"I did not think you had it in you..."
"You threatened my family," she replied in a low voice. She was dangerous.
Voldemort gave a short bark of laughter. "Such a pitiful attempt at bravery," he hissed. "I'm going to kill both you and that child of yours, and when your "dearest husband" is broken...I will kill him as well.
The fear was back. This was all part of Voldemort's revenge. Hermione had to fight the urge to step back as a gnarled hand drew from within its robes a long, thin piece of wood. Hermione swallowed and lifted her own wand.
Harry watched helplessly. Tears were running down his cheeks, but he didn't care. His wife and son were about to die and he couldn't even move his big toe. Why? Why had he left his wand in the kitchen? He'd felt so sure that he was safe; that they were safe. He'd gotten comfortable. And it was going to cost them their lives.
Hermione was defiant even now. Her hair was a mess and her forehead was smudged with soot. Blood was tricking down her cheek. Harry wasn't sure which head injury had caused it. Sirius was utterly silent, his face pressed into Hermione's sweater. His wide, baleful green eyes moved lazily around the room. His room. He'd seen it all before, there was nothing interesting here. Then his eyes lit on Harry. Daddy. He smiled, gurgling, and reach out one hand to him. He didn't know what was happening. He had no idea.
"Put the wand away, you pathetic little girl. You cannot kill me." Voldemort said.
Hermione did not lower her wand. Sirius had stopped squirming when he realized that Daddy was not going to pick him up, and was quiet once more, his chubby, wet cheek pressed into Mommy's shoulder. Harry choked. There would be no more tickles. No more hugs. No more airplane rides...
Hermione met his gaze. Her honey eyes were resigned – she looked as if she were preparing never to see him again. The tears burned his skin. She was ready to die. All he could manage was the barest shake of his head. She smiled at him. Soft. Earthly. Her grip on Sirius tightened as she turned back to face Voldemort; to face her fate. Harry wanted to scream. He wanted to fight, push, punch, die – anything to stop Voldemort from lifting his wand. Instead...he got to watch.
Voldemort walked closer to where Hermione stood, wand at his side. When he got close enough Hermione spit in his face. He laughed at her and didn't lift a hand to wipe the hot spittle from his face. He raised his wand.
"Watch your wife die, Harry. Watch me kill her knowing there is nothing you can do to save her."
Despite the resolution in her mind, she couldn't help but turn away as he pointed the wand at her heart. There was nowhere to run.
"PROTEGO!" She shouted, curling her body inwards. Both arms wrapped around Sirius' small body. Shielding him. Protecting him.
"That won't save you," The deadly words left his lips and sickly green energy exploded from the tip of his wand. Someone was screaming her name.
She screamed as the spell bore between her shoulder blades. She was dead instantly. Her body crumpled to the floor in a heap, honey eyes wide and unseeing.
Voldemort had turned on Sirius. Sirius was sitting quietly on the floor beside Hermione's limp body. He cooed a bit and reached out to pat the chocolate curls fanned out across the carpet. A shimmering blue bubble surrounded him. The shielding Charm had been for Sirius, not herself.
Sirius turned to look at Harry as the spell was cast. He gave a little giggle just before the green energy hit him. White light exploded outwards. It filled the room, growing stronger and brighter until Harry couldn't see anything at all. It was blinding. He squeezed his eyes shut against the pain and didn't open them again until he felt the warmth of the light fade.
He blinked rapidly against the still receding light and waited for his eyes to adjust. The room was empty save for Sirius, Hermione and himself. Voldemort was gone. There was a gurgle and he looked down to see Sirius crawling towards him. The spell was wearing off and he was able to lift his hand to his son.
"Come here..." he whispered. His voice was thick with emotion. He pulled Sirius into his lap. A door slammed downstairs.
Sirius sneezed and giggled, drool dribbling down his chin as he tried to climb up higher. His small arms waved around. One of them patted his cheek wetly. Footsteps were running down the hallway and they echoed through the thin walls of the nursery.
Ron was standing in the doorway. He was ghostly pale making his freckles stand out sharply in contrast. His hand was covering his mouth and he looked like he was going to be sick.
"Don't just stand there!" Barked a hoarse voice. Mad-Eye Moody pushed his way into the room. "An auror never..."
He trailed off at the sight of Hermione's body. "Oh, no..." he whispered.
Harry clutched to his son as if he would never let go. They hadn't noticed him yet. That was alright. He didn't want to be noticed. He didn't think he could bring himself to tell what had happened.
More members of the Order were pushing through into the room. None of them moved. Seeing Hermione dead was a great shock. They had all cared for Hermione. She had been kind and smart and funny and even those who hardly knew her had to fight back the overwhelming sadness that rose at the sight of her body. No one had thought her life would be claimed in the war.
"For God's sake," Moody growled lowly. "Somebody get a sheet."
Lupin moved forward when no one else would, and pulled a thin, blue blanket from Sirius' crib.
"She deserves better than to be gawked at..." Moody whispered.
Lupin knelt beside her, careful not to touch her, and draped the blanket over her body. Her eyes stared straight through him; blood congealing at her temple. He closed his eyes and took a slow breath. When he opened them again his eyes were sad and filled with tears.
"You always were the cleverest witch of your age," he told her in a low voice. He lifted a hand to her forehead and was surprised to find it shaking.
"Goodbye, Hermione," he said quietly as he closed her dead eyes. He stood up slowly.
"Oh, dear. Is everyone all right?" The voice was loud and foreign in the grim silence.
"NO!" Harry said suddenly. Loudly. People looked over at him sharply, some jumping in surprise as they notice him for the first time. "Somebody stop her!"
They reacted too slowly. Harry was struggling to get to his feet, legs still tingling from sedation, when Mrs. Weasley slid into the room.
"Mum." Bill's hand on her arm was incessant, trying to pull her back into the bedroom. Ron stepped in front of her, blocking her sight.
"Come now, Ronald, step aside," She pushed him to the side and he couldn't stop her. "It can't be that bad..." she trailed off as she stepped into the room. A tiny broomstick snapped beneath her slippers.
Her wide, disbelieving eyes took in the curled shaped of a body beneath Sirius' blanket. The blood seeping from Hermione's back stained the blue blanket, black rivers spidering down to the small gold stars that lined the blankets hem.
"NO!" she wailed, collapsing. Her aging hands grabbed at her hair, fluttered over her open mouth, clutched at her heart. "No! NOT HERMIONE!"
Together, Bill and Fred managed to carry their shrieking mother out of the room. Her hysterical sobs could still be heard from the bedroom. Harry lowered his head and closed his eyes.
"She shouldn't' have had to see that," he whispered.
Hermione had been like a second daughter to Molly Weasley, and she had loved her as if she were one of her own. He was grateful that Moody had insisted on the sheet. He didn't know what the sight of Hermione's bloody body would have done to the aging woman. Destroyed her, most likely.
It had for him.
A hand clasped his shoulder. He forced his eyes open. It was Ron. His blue eyes were filled with tears and Harry wasn't surprised to feel the cool sickness of his own tears along his jaw. He didn't know if he'd ever stopped crying.
"I'm sorry, mate." Ron choked. He clenched and unclenched his jaw. "I wouldn't ask, but...the others they...they need to know..."
"Yeah." Harry pushed away from the wall and walked towards the silently waiting Order. Sirius hiccupped and shook tiny fistfuls of Harry's shirt. He passed Tonks, crying softly into Lupin's shoulder, and Mr. Weasley, who nodded at him as he walked by, before he came to stand in front of Moody.
"What happened, boy?"
Harry swallowed the lump in his throat, "Voldemort's gone. He invaded out home. He killed Hermione. He tried to kill Sirius, but the curse backfired...just like with me..." he was surprised by the steadiness of his own voice.
He shifted Sirius in his rasp, holding him tightly with both arms. Sirius gurgled and wrapped his arms around Harry's neck, laying his head on his father's shoulder.
"Now, if you'll excuse me..." His voice was thick again.
Moody's hand on his shoulder stopped him, "Wait a minute, Harry. We need more than that—"
Harry wrenched his shoulder free, "You'll get my official report tomorrow. Right now, I'm taking my son away from here."
Lupin's tone was softer, "Harry..."
"You'll get your bloody fucking play-by-play of Hermione's murder tomorrow, alright?!' He shouted, shoving his way out of the room. Ron followed after him.
"Harry?' he said quietly. "Are you going to be alright?"
"NO!" he shouted in anguish. "Dammit, Ron! I'm never going to be fucking 'alright'!" He lashed out at the wall, punching it hard. Ron stayed back as his friend vented his grief, too caught up in his own to stop him.
When Harry was finally finished, Ron spoke. "Where will you go?"
Harry shook his head, "I don't know. Away? The Leaky Cauldron I suppose. Anywhere but here."
Ron nodded. He sniffed loudly and rubbed roughly at his eyes. "I'll, uh...make sure no one hassles you tonight, mate."
Harry sniffed as well, running his hand through Sirius' hair. "Thanks, Ron," he said quietly.
He started for the door, but paused just outside it, "Ron?"
The red-head turned to face him. His cheeks were rubbed red, "Yeah?"
"Could you do me a favor? When everyone's done with the place," he swallowed slowly. "Burn it."
Ron was shocked, "Harry are you sure?"
"What about your things?"
Harry looked down at the quiet child in his arms. As if sensing someone was watching him, Sirius pulled away and looked up with wide eyes at his father. Harry's trembling lips formed a sad smile, "I have everything I need form this house right here."
Ron nodded, but Harry didn't look up to see it. He turned and started down the hallway, stopping only once in his rush to leave the house when he caught his reflection in the hall mirror.
The tiny bloody handprint of his son glistened wetly on his cheek. But it wasn't Sirius' blood.
It was his mother's.