Where Does The Good Go?
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling is queen of all things Harry Potter. The title is based on 'Where Does the Good Go?' from Tegan and Sara – of which whom I am not associated to in anyway.
Summary: Pre-HBP. With Harry still trying to erase Sirius' death from his mind, 6th year exceeds his expectations. A dead Crookshanks, almost skinny-dipping, love, and a soul collector on campus, "exceeds" doesn't even begin to cover it. A Harry&Hermione Romance.
Important A/N: This fic was written before the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so names/facts/situations may be incorrect.
I am regularly an avid Draco/Hermione shipper, but I've realized I've yet to show my lovely Harry/Hermione side (on this alias). The plot bunnies also just kept jumping at me, so I had to put my foot down and show them who's boss. To Basketcase readers: fear not. Chapters coming soon.
Chapter One: Death Day
On Thursday morning Harry Potter awoke with a spot on his chin. On Thursday morning Ronald Weasley was discovered on the couch of the Gryffindor common room with a letter crumpled up in his hands. On Thursday morning Hermione Granger found out that Crookshanks, her cat, had been thrown over the staircase and therefore brutally killed.
Harry had yawned and stretched inside his bed, his warm covers sliding off his body as he raised his arms heavenwards and lolled back his head. He then reached over to his side dresser and patted down the wooden surface for the familiar wires of his glasses. Finding it, he positioned it on his face and looked 'round the dormitory. Some were still asleep as he recognized lumps underneath the crimson-and-gold Gryffindor sheets. But he could see that a majority had already gotten up – their beds were empty and unmade.
He got to his feet, his mind set on getting to the loo so that he could clean himself up. He was still groggy from last night's Exploding Snap contest. He had heard Seamus had won, but his head felt a bit light and remembered drinking the butterbeer that Fred and George had sent over and from the haziness of his vision and the unsteadiness of his feet, he was sure they had added something in there that was responsible for the half-naked riot after they had declared Seamus Finnigan the King of Exploding Snap.
He'd joined in the night's festivities but did not stay for the riot. He'd heard Dean and Neville grumble about it after they said that it had mostly been the blokes who had stripped down to their knickers – "Not such a pleasing sight," they had reassured Harry. Harry had gone to bed unusually early that night, despite the objections of Ron and Seamus. But he'd been feeling quite drowsy and aloft after his first glass of butterbeer and had enough mind to know that it wouldn't be smart of him to stick around. He'd had a suspicion something like a half-naked riot was going to happen.
His heart wasn't in the celebration. It had been fun, yes. But there had been something odd, something missing. His thoughts had wandered to darker, menacing things, and that had washed away any possibility the giddiness and jubilation his peers tried to rub off on him would. The noise made his ears ache. He couldn't think because everywhere people were sloshing their butterbeers all over his clothes and telling him – shouting was more like it – to join the fun. He'd retired untimely that night, sticky and with ringing ears, but only slept when everyone else had dragged their bodies back into their dorm.
It was after his morning shower that he noticed the spot on his chin. He had just towel-dried his hair and put on his glasses (Hermione'd charmed it so that the lenses wouldn't fog over). He wiped over the mirror, looking at his scar, and that's when he had first seen it.
He didn't get much time to finish up in the bathroom, however, as a loud banging had then filled his ears. Somebody was trying to knock down the door, by the sound of it. He jumped.
"Who is it?" Harry called out.
"It's Neville! Harry, you'd better come down to the common room, right now! It's Ron – and he doesn't look so well!"
Sensing the urgency in his housemate's voice, Harry quickly slipped on his shirt and dashed out, his hair still damp and water trickling down his back.
He hurried down the stairs and saw a crowd gathering around one of the couches. He rapidly joined them, trying to see what it was they were fussing over.
"It's Ron," revealed Neville, as Harry saw an unconscious and muddled-looking Ron on the couch. He was a mess: butterbeer stains all over his shirtfront, his hair sticking up like he had just been electrocuted to death, and there were bits of paper adorning his ginger nest-of-a-hair. Some people – like Seamus – had resorted to poking him with a quill. "We've tried waking him up… but nothing's worked."
"We don't think he's dead," squeaked Colin Creevey. "He still has a pulse."
Harry rushed ahead and grasped Ron by the shoulders. He shook him.
"Ron? Ron? Can you hear me? Wake up!"
Ron's face distorted. He was scowling, but Harry thought he looked as if he was about to cry.
"Ron, if you can hear me… say 'toad.' " It had been the first word Harry could think of, but it seemed to have worked, as a deep, hoarse grunt cracked from Ron's throat.
"Oooaaad." His voice was husky and gravelly, as if someone had forced him to swallow rocks or sand.
"So he can hear," said Seamus. "If you can do something else, mate, like jump up and down on one leg without a limb or eyeball falling out, then we'll get a full sign that you're still alive. Zombies moan and groan, you know – that doesn't mean they're still entirely alive."
"Ron," Harry grunted, grabbing his arm and slinging it around his shoulders. "Get up. Come on, we'll get you to the bathroom. Seamus, lend a hand, would you?"
Seamus got a hold of Ron's other arm and saddled it around his neck as the two boys supported him. The crowd moved out of their way with scattered mumbles as Harry and Seamus tried to get Ron out of the common room, up the stairs, and into the bathroom to clean him up.
Seamus was the one who insisted on putting Ron's head in cold water. He said it'd worked for his always-hideously-hung-over cousin Martyn and so he had told Harry to try it. Though Harry was skeptical, Seamus grinned deviously as he filled the sink with ice-cold water.
"Oy, mate, you're going to get a laugh out of this," he chuckled as they both watched the water level rise. Finally, when there was enough, they turned the faucet off. Droplets dripped from the valve.
"All right, on my count – wait, grab his hair, Harry, yeah, just like that. On my count, we put his head underwater. And then when he starts to move, you know, wriggle his shoulders about and tries to strangle us with his hands – then we lift his head back up as fast as we can without snapping his neck. Got it?"
Harry nodded, still uncertain of Seamus' method, but nothing else had worked. Not even the smell of chocolate frogs.
"Okay. Wait for it… make sure you're gripping his hair… One… two… three – go!" They plunged Ron's head underneath the water.
Even Harry shivered when he felt the icy water reach his knuckles. He looked at Seamus worriedly, doubtful. They could drown him.
Fortunately, within half a second, Ron's body jumped, startled by the sudden freezing water. His body aggressively twisting, Harry and Seamus elevated his head as quickly as they could.
Ron was sputtering, coughing, his red hair dark and sticking to his face from the water. He was spitting water all over Seamus and Harry. His mouth was open, taking in deep, rapid breaths and his chest was heaving.
"What-what are y-you tr-rying to do?" he stammered, his eyes wide. "That w-water is fr-reezing! S-Seamus, I'm-m g-going to kill you!"
"You're welcome," tartly quipped Seamus.
"You wouldn't talk, Ron," said Harry, concerned. "You wouldn't even open your eyes."
"And you'd t-think p-people would res-spect that!" he exclaimed, snatching the towel out of Harry's hands and wiping down his face. "Honestly," Ron continued. His voice was muffled by the towel. "C-can't a bloke snub some social contact for a l-little while?"
"What is it, Ron?" asked Harry, concerned. "What happened last night? What was that letter you were holding?"
"And you don't look your best, either, party boy," mumbled Seamus.
Ron's head snapped up, his spine rigid. He took off the towel, looking at Harry with wide eyes. He looked angry and shocked.
"The letter!" said Ron. "Who took the letter? Who took my letter, Harry?"
"I did," answered Harry, confused. He took it out of his pocket. "I put it in my pocket."
Ron grabbed it from his hand, suddenly giving Harry a paper cut. "Did you read it?"
"No," Harry replied, feeling the small cut on his index finger starting to sting, glancing at Seamus, who was shaking his head. "Of course not."
"Good." Ron shoved the crumpled parchment down the pocket of his trousers. He gave him a menacing, warning look. "Don't."
"You don't want to talk about why you didn't head up to the dormitory last night?"
"No." His answer was firm and there was a foreboding darkness deepening inside his blue eyes that told Harry how gravely he felt about this mystery ordeal with the letter. "And I don't want anyone to try and pry into my business. Spread the word."
With a scowl on his face, Ron then turned and left the loo.
Feeling helpless to his friend's sudden motion of giving him the cold shoulder, Harry looked down to his finger. A small strip of blood was slashed across the very tip. The blood was starting to pool up.
Seamus sighed from his corner.
"You shouldn't have asked, Harry."
"Why?" questioned Harry, wiping the blood on his trousers. "Do you know what happened last night?"
"Yeah." Seamus fidgeted uneasily, as if uncertain to tell him. "Ron… he's nursing a broken heart."
Harry gaped at him. He knew something had happened, but he didn't expect for it to be that. Never that. "What?"
"Lavender handed him that letter before she headed up to her room, right before the riot. He read it, and… well, you had to be there. He was devastated. I'd never seen him that way before. It was… disheartening."
"Lavender broke up with him?"
"Yeah. I've heard the letter was especially brutal. You know, the whole 'I hope we can still be friends' rubbish. He downed glasses of butterbeer after that. He even started singing 'cos he was so pissing drunk."
Harry frowned. He felt a tugging on his heart. He'd never thought he'd see the day when Lavender would be the one to break things off. He'd thought they'd been so happy together. There hadn't been a moment when Harry looked at the pair of them when they hadn't been smiling. Or snogging.
"Did she say why?"
Seamus shrugged. "He won't let anyone read the letter, he won't talk about it. Lavender refuses to step out of the girls' dormitory. It's all a very blurry mystery."
Harry found Hermione talking to Madam Pomfrey on their way to the Great Hall for breakfast. He noticed the nurse was holding something familiarly orange and furry and looking a bit mangled in her arms.
He approached them with Ron by his side. He remembered that she hadn't been in the common room this morning when they had found Ron. He caught Hermione talking as they stopped behind her, and she sounded upset.
The tone of her words clearly hinted to them that she was immensely distressed. "… I'm sure it's all a very big mistake, Madam Pomfrey. I wasn't aware—"
"Miss Granger," said Madam Pomfrey, her lips disappearing into a stern line. There were bags underneath her usually unyielding eyes. "I'm afraid there's nothing we can do. We don't know much about pets, nor do we know how to bring them back to life."
Harry and Ron exchanged puzzled looks.
"But please," pleaded a desperate Hermione. "Please, if you could just look up a few spells that could even – look, I think I have some in here," she said, looking flustered as she fumbled with the clasp on her book bag.
"Miss Granger," the Medi-Witch said sternly. "It is time for breakfast. Crookshanks is dead, and I apologize for such a tragedy. Just get something to eat and you'll feel better. We can have a burying ceremony later on in the week if you'd like. Invite anyone you'd like." Then she started to walk away, her stout heels clicking a bit more sharply against the marble floors than Harry had ever heard.
"But—" protested Hermione, looking desperately at the nurse's back.
"Hermione," said Ron, surprise very evident in his voice. "What?"
She sighed heavily in defeat. Harry could see she looked very sad and even a bit confused.
She turned to look at them, and that was when he saw the dark bags underneath her dull eyes. He wondered if she and their school nurse had been up all night.
"Crookshanks," she said sadly. "He's… he's dead."
"Dead?" echoed Ron, dumbfounded. Even Harry was having a hard time believing it.
"Yes. Apparently, he fell off of one of the moving staircases." She pursed her lips, a sudden star of defiance shining in her eyes. "But the claw marks on the rails speak for themselves. I think somebody picked him up and threw him down."
"To his death?" Ron was having a very hard time believing this.
"Who found him?" asked Harry, also shocked at the news.
They started to walk towards the Great Hall. Hermione looked very depressed. He didn't think he'd ever seen her so dispirited before.
"Ernie Macmillan. He was downstairs when he spotted Crookshank's body on the floor. But it was too late to save him… you know, broken spine, internal bleeding, and whatnot." She looked nauseous as she reflected on the details.
"But don't cats have nine lives?" asked Ron. "Has Crookshanks been killed before?"
"This is already terrible without your cruel jokes, Ronald Weasley," snapped an edgy and tense Hermione. "Crookshanks is dead."
"Who said I was joking? They honestly don't have nine lives?"
"Of course not!" she snipped. Glaring daggers at Ron, she then stormed ahead to the Great Hall, leaving them behind.
Harry sighed, shaking his head. "Crookshanks? Dead? I almost don't want to believe it."
"Me neither." Ron looked noticeably green and queasy.
"What is it?" asked Harry.
"Come on, out with it," prompted Harry. He thought Ron was going to tell him about what had happened between him and Lavender. He felt guilty, especially since everyone else knew more about it than he did and Ron was his best friend.
"All right, Harry, but you've got to swear you're not going to tell Hermione." There was a hopeful look on his face.
Puzzled, Harry nodded and said he wouldn't. What would it have to do with Hermione? Unless… Lavender had broken up with him because of Hermione. Did Ron have feeling for Hermione again? Remembering what had happened last time, Harry felt knots form inside his stomach and his mouth go dry. He hoped that wasn't the case.
Summer had been a hard one; especially when there was an overly hormonal Ron who had seemed to be extra keen on finally telling Hermione how he felt. Harry remembered the anxious and fraught look on his face. He thought his poor friend was going to explode.
And he did tell her, and they confessed their long subdued feelings – right in front of him. Thinking about it almost made him feel woozy because of that dizzying, chaotic day. They had been arguing again, with Hermione throwing her books at him and yelling at him about his impertinence, the sound of books crashing everywhere while Harry was jumping every which way from getting hit by one of them. And then it happened. In all of its audacity. And then after a few moments of questions of reassurance and certainty, they blushed a siren-bright crimson.
But it faded soon after, because it was then that Ron discovered the very attractive Penny Kinny next door. And Hermione – Hermione discovered the Undisturbed by Muggles: The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare in a vintage bookshop. It certainly lightened the load of heartbreak for the three of them.
It actually amazed him. Their feelings had faded into nothing but the mutual "friendship" feelings again within hours after their confession and it was if nothing had happened at all.
Ron's voice lowered. "I think I drank too much of Fred and George's butterbeer last night, and, well, I remember Crookshanks wouldn't leave me alone and the mangy cat even followed me out when I wanted to be by myself for a while… and… well, I think I was the one who threw him down there."
Harry's eyes bulged out of their sockets. This was just too hard to believe. "What? You're the one who killed Crookshanks?"
"I think I did. But, you know, if you think about it, I only did it because I was drunk out of my wits from the twin's spiked butterbeer. Had I been of clear conscience and mind, I never would have hurt Crookshanks a bit. Wouldn't have laid a finger. Sure, probably a swift kick in the arse for being so sodding annoying, but never… never that. So, if you think about it, they're the ones who killed Crookshanks. Not me."
But as Harry could only gape at him and Ron seemed to be mentally preparing himself for his doom, they knew even that excuse could never save him from the wrath of Hermione Granger.