I own nothing you recognize. I simply play in JKR's universe for fun.


Rita Skeeter could not remember an interview she had anticipated more than this one. To have Severus Snape, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley in front of a camera was a major accomplishment. To have them be required to answer her questions was nothing short of a coup. That she had an exclusive made her positively orgasmic.

She would owe Arthur Weasley big time for this.

Snape had actually comported himself well, volunteering a lot of information. Granger wasn't bad either.

Ronald Weasley was the one she really wanted to nail. The wretch had insulted her and refused interviews for years.


Snape had gone into exile after his release by the Ministry. Granger had done the same after she recovered from Weasley's brutal assault. Under the circumstances, their silence was understandable. There lives had been in danger.

Ronald Weasley had clammed up. To her best recollection, Weasley was always the one of the Trio who could be provoked into saying something. His need to defend his friends and family was something she had used.

That all changed after Potter died. Weasley testified before the Wizengamot and nowhere else. No interviews, no magazine articles, no books. Nothing was revealed to the public.


The little shit believed he had the right to withhold the most important story of the century from the public. That he had the right to withhold it from her.

This time, the whole truth was going to come out. Her audience had already heard Snape and Granger tell the truth about Potter's final minutes. Weasley added a bit, but he really was in the background on what happened to Potter.

The real story tonight was the reason Weasley turned on his girlfriend and tried to kill her after she mercy-killed Potter.

'I'll nail him to a wall,' she thought.


"According to your friends and my own observations, she was your girlfriend. You two had been the best of friends since your first year at Hogwarts. What was going on in your head that you could turn on someone you professed to love?" asked Skeeter.

"Rage," answered Weasley. "The three of us had been dealing with all of this Voldemort stuff for so long. We were on the edge all the time at the end. When I saw Harry fall and knew Hermione had done it, I lost it."

"We were all supposed to die or all supposed to live."


"If Harry was going to die, I expected Voldemort or Snape to do it," said Weasley, his hands clenched into fists, hidden under the table. "Maybe Bellatrix, or Malfoy might have got to him." He shook his head. "Hermione was the last person on the planet I expected to kill him.

"It – It was like everything in the world got turned inside out in an instant. I wondered if she was helping someone. One of the Death Eaters who wanted Voldemort taken down so he could take his place. Maybe she was Imperioed and being controlled by one of them."


"I thought maybe she was even a traitor," said Weasley, looking expressionlessly down at the table. "Hermione is so smart," he said, lifting his eyes to hers. "If she thought we were going to lose, maybe she'd changed sides to save herself."

Severus jerked next to her and Hermione thought he might go for his wand. She put her hand on his arm to restrain him. She realized Skeeter was watching them closely, reminding her that they were on live wizarding television.

"How could you believe that, Ron?" she asked in a voice that was calmer than she thought possible.


Ron gave her a pained look.

"You and I weren't going to make it as a couple," he replied. "I'd fancied myself in love with you since our fourth year at Hogwarts. We got together in the summer after our sixth year. We were a team with Harry, hunting horcruxes and dealing with Death Eaters and Voldemort. Harry and Ginny. You and me. We were going to work it out.

"Autumn came and things got incredibly bad with the attacks. My brother Charlie was killed. Neville Longbottom died protecting students in Hogsmeade.

"You were absorbed in the Dark magic research."


"You were researching the horcruxes and ways we could destroy them. You studied Dark Arts so we could defend against them. You understood all kinds of things I couldn't even begin to comprehend.

"By winter, we weren't even speaking the same language most of the time. I could see that we'd be together for as long as it took to see the business through to the end. By the time it was over, you were going to be way out of my league. I was never in your league to begin with.

"I knew I was going to lose you."


"I think that's one of the reasons I was so angry, why I lashed out without even thinking. I expected you to dump me. All we really had in common was Harry and our quest. When I saw Harry drop dead, I thought we didn't even have that. Whatever made you do it had already taken you away from me.

Ron looked away. He couldn't look at Hermione.

"I'd just lost Harry. I figured I'd lost you. I expected the remaining Death Eaters to kill me. I decided to kill you before they got me. I loved and hated you."


Skeeter intervened before Hermione or Severus could say a word.

"Are you saying that you tried to kill Granger, because you determined that she would break up with you once you no longer had your mission in common?" asked Skeeter.

"There were a lot of things going through my head at the time," answered Ron, ashamed. "It was a jumble of emotions and things I'd been worrying about. I thought Hermione betrayed us, whether by choice or Imperio. I expected to die and wanted her to die first. It made perfect sense to me, but I know it was nuts."


"You could have used Viscus Strigo and killed your girlfriend in a painless instant. Instead, you used such a powerful Sectumsempra, you sliced open your girlfriend's guts," probed Skeeter. "Inflicting agony sounds like a man bent on revenge for a whole lot of things gone wrong."

"I've already apologized to Hermione for that," said Ron, eyes flashing.

"Do you imagine her twenty-five years of exile would have been necessary if you had looked at your own behavior and motivations a little more closely?" challenged Skeeter.

"I screwed up," said Ron, defensively. "I didn't understand until I looked in the Pensieve."


"What Pensieve?" questioned Skeeter.

"One year ago, I sent Arthur Weasley a Pensieve with my memory of the final encounter with Voldemort," explained Severus. "I told him to use it where it would do the most good."

"I take it that Minister Weasley offered you the chance to view the memory?" she asked Ron.

"He did," answered Ron, "I resisted looking for a while."

"How long?" pressed Skeeter.

"Several months," he replied, dissembling. "I didn't think there was anything new to learn and just a lot of old bad memories to revive."

"So how much time did that cost her?"


Skeeter smiled inwardly. All her audience saw was an intrigued expression.

'I've got him,' she thought.

"Being your girlfriend is an expensive proposition," said Skeeter, scathingly. "It cost Hermione Granger pain and injury, recovery time, and the necessity of starting her life over in hiding in another country. She's lived more than twenty-five years in hiding because you couldn't face your bad memories."

In an instant, Snape realized what Skeeter was implying to her audience.

Ronald Weasley was a coward.

Oh, yes. He'd faced Death Eaters, Voldemort, and danger along the way. He didn't have the courage to face himself.


In that moment, Severus no longer felt the desire to repay Weasley in kind for the way he treated Hermione and the damage he'd done to their lives. Ronald Weasley was going to pay for the rest of his life for lacking the courage to face his inner demons.

The worst quality in so many Gryffindors. They were capable of being the worst kind of bullies, but cowards about facing their own flaws. Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, James Potter, and Ronald Weasley were all that way.

Somehow, that was not the case with Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall or Lily Evans.


Gryffindor women were a whole different case in point.

Severus sat back and watched the faces in the audience as Rita Skeeter pinned Weasley down on one character failing after another.

Weasley was squirming like a bug under a magnifying glass on a day in the hot sun.

'The audience understands it,' thought Severus. 'They understand that Hermione and Potter were the heroes that day."

Hermione, sitting beside Severus found herself thinking something very similar.

'They finally understand what it cost me to set Harry free of that horcrux," she thought.

'I think I may be totally screwed,' thought Ron.


"You were magnificent, Rita," said the director of the television show. "You had Snape and Granger telling their side of the story for the first time in decades. Best of all, you cracked through Ronald Weasley's façade. He'll never be able to hide behind that tragic hero act he's been putting on."

Rita preened a bit as she smoothed her skirt. Now that her live television show had been seen by the thousands in her wizarding audience, she was going to be as much of a celebrity as her guests.

Never underestimate the power of the media to create trouble.