To all my readers, this is a re-edited version of my original one-shot. I had a very sudden and extensive vision where I saw the characters of this story grow and it inspired me to write the sequel. This is the first of many weekly updates to come!
As always, please tell me what you thought of the story and what you liked or disliked about my writing. I always love comments! A special 'Hi' goes out to everyone who came here after reading my other story (The Truth Behind the Story). I'm especially curious to see what you all think of this story!
Without further adieu, to the STORY!
"Daddy, tell me a story"
"But its bed time, and Daddy's tired...he wants to sleep." Harry said expressively, as he fell down on her bed and pretended to sleep. His daughter's squeals of annoyance and excessive jumping brought him laughing as he sat back up.
She put her hands on her hips and gave him the look that only his daughter could give. "No Daddy, you can't be that tired…" She shook a stern her finger at him. "Now if you tell me ONE story…." She slyly smiled at him before finishing. "I'll go STRAIGHT to bed!" She looked at him pleadingly. When Harry raised eyebrow, and opened his mouth to argue her point, Devoney's bottom lip quivered. Looking him straight in the eyes, she put on her best pout. "Da-dd-y…I luv you!"
Now who can resist their daughter's undying pledge of love? Harry couldn't help but burst out in laughter.
"Alright, alright...You get onestory," He put on his best 'strict' face, hoping to maybe calm her down a tad. "And then it's straight to bed!"
"YAAY!" She exclaimed excitedly as she started jumping on her bed again. Mid-way through one jump, she slid neatly into her bed and pulled the covers up close, patiently awaited her treat.
"Do you have any requests tonight Princess?" Harry asked, using her pet name; something he knew pleased her.
"Yes," She declared, sitting up straight like a royalty about to give a command. "I wish to hear about Mummy." Devoney looked up at him shyly. There were little specks of hopefulness in her eyes that tonight, maybe…just maybe, she might learn something about this tabooed subject.
Harry felt his eyes lose focus and slightly well with tears immediately after she mentioned the last words of her command.
He supposed she wanted to hear a happy tale on how he had met her mother. How he had been struck with the feeling of love at first sight. That they had fallen into a perfect love, and like always he would save the day by banishing the bad wizard. Unfortunately, not all love lasts and the hero doesn't always win.
Every time Devoney asked about her mother, Harry would brush the topic away, never fully answering her. Sometimes she reminded him so much of Hermione it hurt. With the exception of her physical appearance, which were uncannily similar to his own. She had gorgeous black hair that was naturally full of body all the time, which made it hell to brush in the mornings. And a pair of brilliant emerald eyes that seemed to see everything. While she didn't have to wear glasses yet, her constant stumbling into things lead Harry to suspect that she inherited his poor eye sight. She had just turned four last month, and she tended to be incredibly independent and headstrong. This is where their similarities ended.
She had her mother's brain and that was all there was to say. She had already mastered her Dick and Jane books, and was steadily moving to more advanced books. She still insisted on Harry telling her a story at night though, a task he was more than happy to fulfill. She also had a very open mind to languages. She could already speak partial French, and understand verbal Japanese. There was no doubt in his mind that she would be a brilliant little witch who would become beautiful and strong. Harry stared at her tiny frame, nestled underneath several quilts, which almost succeeded in making her disappear in the covers. She wiggled slightly in anticipation and hope of the promised story.
Harry sighed; suddenly it was as if all the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. He standing up, he put a hand on Devoney's head and ruffled her hair a bit. "Wait here for a second Princess." He left the room and Devoney alone with the wonderment of what was going to happen. Soon Harry returned carrying a shoe box. He sat back down on the edge of Devoney's bed.
"If I'm going to tell you this story, then I'd better tell it right." Harry answered affirmatively as he lifted the lid off the box. The inside was scattered with newspaper clippings, photographs, case reports, letters; all pieces of his memories. Memories of all the happy times, as well as the ones of hardship and sorrow.
He carefully lifted the first picture out of the box and fondly smiled at it. There, still in their school robes, was a special picture made up of two combined photos. One part was made from their first year, and the other from their fourth. Hermione had done a nice job on the combining. It wasn't an odd occurrence to see Harry and Ron walk over and start to bully their younger selves, while both Hermiones would shake their heads disapprovingly at the act.
"Devoney, did I ever tell you where I went to school?" She politely shook her head at his question. "Hogwarts...Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." He answered softly. "It's the same place you'll be attending when you turn 11." He smiled when he saw her eyes light up in excitement.
"I experienced many things while I was there. Magic, horror, boring classes..." Harry paused for a moment while Devoney giggled at his comment. Harry couldn't help but smile in marvel at a toddler's mind; even one as brilliant as Devoney. "And it's where I met my two best friends." He passed the photograph into her eager fingers.
"The fellow with the red hair is Ron Weasley. He was the first person I met who could also do magic who was my age. You might run into him and his slew of red-haired children someday." Harry took the photograph back and smiled at it once more before placing it down in the lid.
"And the belle lady?" Devoney asked curiously.
Harry smiled at her fitting description. "That was Hermione Granger. It was a while before we became friends, though. You see she was very smart, just like you, but everyone thought she was a know-it-all, and weren't very friendly towards her. This included my friend Ron, who succeeded in making her cry on more than one occasion. Then one day we saved her from a troll, and well, we were inseparable from then on."
Harry looked down at Devoney and smiled. "Together we solved many puzzles and completed tasks that should never have been attempted by anyone our age, but we were reckless, we never stopped to thing of the consequences or potential danger. There were thousands of reasons that we shouldn't have been able to be friends...we were just too different. Hermione was smart and rule-bound, Ron was a slacker and a rule-breaker, and I lived for Quidditch and for being the hero." Harry couldn't help but let out a small laugh as he reminisced. "Both of which Hermione would scold me countlessly for."
Harry shook his head and smiled as he continued on. "And yet, through all these differences, we fit together like an ill-fated puzzle. One that had to be broken apart every once and awhile and then be fitted back together to something better and stronger." Harry's eyebrows knitted slightly together as a small frown came on to his lips. "Yet all good things are not meant to last," He added softly. "and puzzles eventually lose their pieces."
Shaking his head, Harry did his best to try and remain upbeat for the sake of his daughter. "You see, even through all of these happy times, there was a constant sense of fear. You see, there was a bad wizard wh-"
"Was he very bad?" Devoney cut in. Harry nodded.
"Yes, very, very bad. He killed for the fun of it. You see, he didn't like wizard or witches who had come from homes of non-magical people, or muggles. And that fear was enhanced the day Dumbledore, the only man whom the bad wizard feared, was murdered. With him, much hope died as well." Devoney started to fidget. Harry looked down at her concerned. "Do you have a question, Princess?"
Devoney nodded her head exuberantly. Harry braced himself. He assumed it would to do with 'Why did he like to kill people?' or 'What was the bad wizard's name?' Harry wasn't sure how he could answer a question like that.
"Yes, yes I do." She looked up at him with a serious face. "What is Qu-di-che?"
It was all Harry could do to not laugh at her 'serious' question amongst this discussion. "Quidditch is the most wonderful sport in the world." Harry answered happily. "You fly around on a broomstick, and depending on your position, you have a job to do. There are three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper, and one Seeker. I was the Seeker, so it was my job to catch this small walnut-sized ball that flew very fast. Once it was caught, the game was over."
Harry reached over and moved a strand of hair out of Devoney's face. "I have a feeling that someday, you'll be immaculate at it!"
"Do you really truly think so?" Devoney asked in awe, hope and ambition filled her eyes to the brim.
Harry beamed at her excitement. Yet another thing that reminded him of himself in her. "Yes, I really and truly do." He looked down on her fondly. "Now, should we get back to the story, or is it may be time for bed?"
Devoney's eyes turned wide and she gasped. "No, no, please continue the story."
Harry nodded as he leaned back against her headrest. Devoney scooted closer and rested her head against his side. Wrapping his arm around her, Harry continued. "Alright...let's see...After a while we all grew up. Everyone thought that Ron-"
"The red-haired fellow?" Devoney interrupted.
"Yes, the red-haired fellow, and Hermione-"
Harry chuckled. "Yes, the belle-lady. Now, everyone always suspected that they would be together, get married, and live a safe, happy life. In fact it was almost expected of them. Just as it was expected of myself and Ginny, Ron's younger sister," Harry added, "to get together as well. So it was no surprise to anyone when Hermione and Ron started dating."
"Did you date the red-haired Diablo?" Devoney interjected, a rather disgusted look graced her face.
Harry was slightly taken aback by this change in her behaviour. Normally she was very polite. "Why do you call her a Diablo?"
"Because I don't like her!" Devoney answered firmly as she crossed her arms and pouted. Harry's raised eyebrows urged her to continue. "I like the Belle-lady." She explained. "I want her as me Mum, not some red-haired devil lady."
Harry could see that Devoney was positively livid at the prospect. Harry couldn't resist giving her a hug. "Don't worry Princess, the Diablo wasn't your mum."
"She wasn't?" Devoney repeated, mildly confused. Harry shook his head in answer. "But I thought that you had to marry her."
Harry managed a weak smile. "We were expected to...Especially after Ron and Hermione started dating." Harry smirked at Devoney's scowl. "And we tried. But there was nothing between us. A dear friend of mine once said that I was in love with the idea of Ginny, not Ginny herself. I loved her being normal, while I had dearly wished to be normal."
Devoney, in complete and utter concentration was trying to piece together the facts. "If Diablo wasn't me mum, and belle-lady married the red-haired fellow and had more red-haired children…" She looked up distraughtly at Harry. "Then who's my mum?" She clearly wanted an answer to her dilemma.
Harry smiled at her deduction. "Let daddy continue his story, okay Princess?" Devoney nodded her head, as if she was afraid to say anything else in case her daddy would put her to bed.
Harry leaned against the bedpost again. "Okay, now where was I? …Oh, right, Ron and Hermione." He looked down at Devoney. "Because times were getting tough, and everyone was worried about the future, marriages and elopements were happening by the boatful. No one wanted to die alone. So I wasn't necessarily surprised by Ron's proposal to Hermione. Yet, I was immensely saddened by the prospect, though at the time I wasn't completely sure why."
Harry chuckled a bit to himself. Devoney looked up at him, urging her father to explain his humour. "Hermione used to always criticize me on how naive I was. She said that someday it would lead to my death." He didn't add that she had been right.
"At the time I thought that I was upset because I was worried that our friendship would be different now." Harry pulled out another picture from the box. This one was a wedding photo. There stood Ron, beaming brighter than that of the sun; completely oblivious to the surrounding moods. Harry was standing beside him playing the reserved best-man. There was not a smile to be seen on his face the entire day. Right in the middle, Hermione sat between the two. While she had every right to have a smile similar to Ron's, only the smallest of polite smiles graced her lips that day.
Harry's eyes clouded over in remembrance of his and Hermione's conversation from the night before that picture had been taken.
"Just come in already…" A muffled voice answered in annoyance from behind the solid oak door. Slowly opening it, Harry poked his ruffled head through.
"Hermione, are you okay?" He asked as he entered the room she was staying in that night. "You left the rehearsal early." Harry froze when he saw the tear-stained face staring back at him. "Hermione?" He asked again softly.
Realizing her state, Hermione made a quick movement to dry her eyes. "I'm fine..." She mumbled. "I'm just being stupid is all."
This did little to dispel Harry's worry. He was across the room and by her side in a flash. As Hermione looked into his concerned eyes, she completely broke down. Flinging herself into Harry's waiting arms she started to cry unabatedly.
"Harry…." Her sobs were quite loud now; her feelings came out like a torrent. "Harry...I'm not sure I want to do this anymore. I don't think it's time. I don't think I'm ready...It doesn't feel right." Hermione continued to ramble on.
Harry smoothed her fixed curls, laying the odd sympathetic kiss into them. The only thing he could do as a friend was lend a supportive ear, and a shoulder for crying on in this case.
Rather suddenly, Hermione stopped rambling and pulled away from Harry arms. She fixed her eyes straight into his own with one of her piercing stares. "Harry, I'm not sure that it's Ron I love."
Out of all the things he had expected to hear, this had not one of them. Everything he had been prepared to say to comfort her disappeared. All he could do was look down disbelievingly at Hermione's strangely determined face. Harry mustered up a forced cheerful face, then sat Hermione down on her bed then sat beside her and wrapped his arms around her.
"Hermione, you DO love Ron...you always have." He reassured her.
"But what if I've nev-" She started to argue, to which Harry quickly cut off, afraid to hear what it was she wanted to say.
"No. Now you listen to me, you love Ron. You're going to get married tomorrow, and live a very wonderful life." And a safe life, Harry thought to himself. "You'll have beautiful, smart children who take completely after you, but will have Ron's hair. Because, after all, what's a Weasley without red hair?" Harry forced a chuckle to aid in his weak attempt to cheer Hermione up.
But she refused to be moved from her stony state. "It'll be alright Hermione, I promise!" Harry continued. At this Hermione wiggled out of Harry's arms and moved so that she was sitting in front of him. Now she could see his face clearly.
"Harry," She started slowly, her eyes locked on his. "is there anything you want to say to me? Is there something you've wanted to say to me for a long time? Because if there is, now is the time to say it." Her gaze seemed to bore through Harry's own eyes.
Harry swallowed down a hard lump in his throat. Thoughts about confessing feelings that he still was trying to interpret seemed promising, but he knew if he did that lifelong friendship ties would then be severed. With all that was at sake, and with Harry never sure of what the future would hold for him, he just couldn't do that Hermione. At the very least since his future was undetermined, he couldn't ruin the futures of the ones closest to him.
Harry forced himself to meet Hermione's eyes. Then, with as much power as he could, Harry tried to make both himself and Hermione to believe what he was going to say next. "No…. is there anything you want to say to me?"
His solid face was more than Hermione could handle. A string of silent tears started to flow down her face. Standing up, she straightened her dress and looked past Harry, ignoring the tears rolling down her face.
"I think it's time for you to leave now Harry. I would like to be alone for a while." Harry stood up and nodded. He didn't know what she was thinking, but he understood what it was like to be confused. Hermione followed him to the door, her hand rested on the handle, ready to lock it once he left.
Harry stopped and turned back to Hermione before leaving. "Remember Mione, if you want to talk or if there is something you need help with, I will always be here for you." Harry had meant for it as a way for her to know that he was only a walk away; instead the simple statement seemed to make her even more upset.
"You are such a bloody fool Harry." She snapped before reaching up and pulling his head down hard to hers and kissed him strongly. "A complete idiot!" She added before pushing him out of the doorway and shutting the door none too gently behind her. Harry heard the lock click from behind the door.
Harry reached up and touched his lips, both her taste and her tears still remained there.
Harry blinked his eyes a few times. All of a sudden he was back in reality staring into a pair of positively livid eyes that belonged to his fuming daughter. He could tell he was in for a major scolding.
"The next time you want to disappear into your world of memories … take me with you!" Devoney crawled into Harry's lap, and wrapped her tiny arms around him. "I can't see what goes on there." She added quietly.
Harry smiled and embraced his daughter. "I'm sorry sweetie, I was just remembering something that took place a long time ago."
"So, what happened next?"
Harry smiled sadly. Devoney was never one to sit idly while there was a story to be told. It was getting to the part that Harry would have the hardest time telling. Harry looked up at the ceiling and away from his daughter's curious eyes. "We all soon learned that there was a difference between what is expected of us, and what we really want."
Harry lifted Devoney up out of his lap and placed her back under her covers. "At this time Ginny and I were still dating. We would continue to date for about six months after Ron's and Hermione's wedding. It was around that time when Ron and Hermione first started to really fight. Even when we had been in school they had fought a lot, but if they gave each other a few days distance things would go back to being normal. Now that they were married however, they had no place to take refuge. So the anger never diminished, only increased. Most of the time it was over simple. stupid things. Such as why Ron wouldn't help Hermione with the cleaning, or why Hermione always had to bring a book to bed. But then there was this one argument...It was this one that started the dissolve on their marriage." He looked down at Devoney's and took her elfish face in his hands, marveled as always at the detail in a child's face. To think that he could have made something as perfect as her completely blew his mind.
"Ron had grown up in a large family, and couldn't wait to get started on his own half a dozen children, but Hermione refused. She didn't want to have kids, at least not then, and she remained adamant on this point. It was at this time that I knew Ginny and I would not work out. Weaslys look out for their own and Ginny would always support Ron, no matter how stupid the argument, or if he was clearly wrong. I tried to play the judge and fight for the side that I thought was right. Unfortunately for my relationship, I normally found Hermione's side as the right one. This also started the dissolve of our friendship."
Harry leaned against the wall and looked at the ceiling. "Looking back on it now, I realize how stupid it was. I would give anything to apologize for it and be friends with Ron again...to take back those five years. We were only 18 at the time. We were still children playing adults. So Ginny and I split on angry terms, and I lost the only family I had ever known."
For some reason Harry's eyes started to well up. He didn't understand. He had been through this part of the story hundreds of times in his head preparing for this day and it never involved him crying. Devoney crawled out from under her covers again and threw her tiny arms around Harry.
Squeezing him tightly, Harry almost missed what she was saying with her face pressed into his chest. "Don't worry Daddy…" She comforted him. "You'll always have me!"
Harry hugged her back tightly and let the tears fall down his face. Leave it to a four year old to make up for years of neglect. Harry kissed her forehead, and hugged her once more before tucking her back into her bed again. He wiped away the last of the tears, and tried to laugh off his slip.
"You're going to have to stop coming out of your covers, you're making Daddy tired, putting you in some many times." Devoney grinned her toothy smile at him, and it gave Harry the strength to carry on with the story.
"Alright, where were we? Oh! Right…" Harry looked down at his daughter's face. He could tell she was starting to get tired. Harry closed his eyes for a second. He recalled the next five years in vivid detail. His and Ron's falling out, the secret lunches he shared with Hermione...The constant fear from the war increasing, and then the day Hermione started to wear long sleeves and dark sunglasses. He wished that those sleeves had only been covering bruises. Unfortunately what we wish for isn't always granted.
Harry looked back down at Devoney. With her eyes restfully shut, and her breathing calm and steady, Harry leaned against the wall and watched her sleep. His thoughts slipped back to his memories from around the time Hermione started to come to his house covered in bruises…..
A quiet pop was all that was heard to inform Harry that he now had company. Getting up, Harry walked over to the door. He had to admit, he was curious. It was late and he hadn't been expecting anyone. When he saw who stood there in his doorway however, his feeling of wonderment vanished and was quickly replaced by feelings of hate and disgust.
Standing there was Hermione in a pitiful state. She was clutching a broken wrist, and had a black eye. Her nose was bleeding slightly. Without hesitation Harry brought her in and locked the door behind him.
Harry sighed, looking back, he realized that that had been the stupidest thing he ever did. After he healed her wounds, she would stay with him a few days and then return home. Never telling Harry who had done it, though Harry did have his suspects...He'd have to have been stupid not to.
It may have been the first visit, but it definitely wasn't the last. Soon after that it became a monthly event, then later a weekly one. It wasn't until she came to him one day with a stab wound and a cut on her throat that Harry finally snapped. He left Hermione in his kitchen and disappeared to find and confront Ron.
Hermione had tried to stop him, but his anger had been too great to listen. Once he had actually found Ron, Harry was surprised that he didn't kill him. It wasn't until much later he would realize that that had been the point the entire time.
Harry had burst through Ron's door and stormed through the house looking for him. Ron stood in the living room in front of the fire with a bottle of fire-whiskey clenched in his hand. He turned to face Harry, already long gone in the drink.
Ron's eyes swirled with anger at the sight of Harry. "What the fuck are you doing here, you son of a -" Harry's fist stopped his drunken speech right there.
When Harry got back to his home, Hermione was sitting in front of the fireplace. Wounds healed, face tear stained. He sat down beside her. She continued to avoid his eyes for a long time before she finally whispered, "Did you?"
Harry shook his head. No matter how angry he was at Ron, those 8 years of friendship didn't just disappear with the wind. Harry looked over at her and decided to do something he hadn't before dared to.
Reaching a hand up, Harry placed it gently on her cheek and tilted her head up. Her eyes met his expectantly. He had wanted to kiss her right then, he wanted to more than anything in the world, but first he needed to know. "Mione, I think it's time you told me what's going on."
She jerked her head away from his hand and fixated her stare on a spot on the carpet for a while longer. If it was to gather her thoughts or to control her fears, Harry wasn't sure. At a later time she confessed that it had been her conscience she had been fighting.
Suddenly, without word to say what she was feeling or thinking, Hermione jumped to her feet and ran out of the house. All Harry could do was sit there and watch her leave.
The entire next day all Harry could do was worry about Hermione. Did she go back to Ron? Would he hurt her more? Would he ever see her again? By nightfall Harry was working his way to a nervous breakdown. Thankfully he didn't have to wait much longer, a single knock came at his door breaking the silence of the house.
Half-hoping, yet not daring to wish who would be standing there, Harry slowly opened the door. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Hermione standing there. He let out a sigh of relief. Only the smallest whisper of doubt flickered through his head as they stood there in silence. Hermione's eyes no longer held the same panic-laced fear as they did yesterday. A new fear had taken its place.
Harry watched as she took a deep breath before she started speaking softly. "Harry, do you remember when you said if I ever needed your help with anything, all I had to do was ask?"
"I would never forget." He answered her just as softly. "Mione, what's going on? I don't understa-" Harry never got to finish his sentence. Hermione had grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and had pulled his head towards her's, crushing her lips against his. Harry didn't even bother braking the kiss. He could no longer restrain himself. Instead he drew her in closer and shut the door behind them.
As for the events that followed throughout that night, Harry had expected Hermione to still be there in the morning. When he woke however, she was gone. Harry didn't see or hear from her again. He had tried to find her. He sent off owls with notes that never returned. All he could do was worry and wonder. That is, until the deaths started to occur.
When Harry had first heard the rumours, he refused to believe them. When he had first saw it himself, he blamed it on tricks of the eyes. It couldn't be her. He wouldn't believe it...he couldn't. But, that's what love does do you.
Harry was suddenly filled with a merriment of questions. When she had been with him that night, she had been the Hermione he had always known, hadn't she? Had it all been an act? When he confessed his feelings, and they had acted upon them, had there been an ulterior motive on her part? Didn't she feel the same way?
For some reason all Harry felt was a void in his heart, one that he had truly believed would finally be filled by someone. For the little time that she had been his, he had given her all of his love. He couldn't even imagine loving another. Yet, despite the betrayal, it was not his heart he wanted back from her. If she wanted it, she could have it all. She was the only one he wanted to love, she always had been. No, it was her he wanted back. Harry wanted the Hermione that he had fallen love with back.
As Harry shook those events out of his mind, the ones that were too horrible for Devoney to witness at her young age, it oddly enough brought to memory Rita Skeeter's last article. The last one she wrote before she was murdered. It was a strange article for her. Not one full of rubbish and misquotes. If Harry hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he never would have believed it had come from her. Harry, careful not to disturb Devoney, rustled through the box, searching for the article. Finding it, Harry read the well-known words once more.
Everyone always wants to hear the stores with the happy endings. The ones where the hero succeeds, or at the very least defeats the evil of the land. No one wishes to hear the stories of the hero's utter defeat, the stories that are harsh and hard to listen to. Stories of evil that are hard to understand, hard to stomach.
No one is going to tuck their three year old sons and daughters into bed, and tell them about the stores of the savage oppressor who pillaged and ransacked the area. Harsher yet are the stories of betrayal. When brothers turn against each other, when sisters kill, when best friends depart, and lovers betray. When the unthinkable happens, can you carry on? When the hero dies, do you continue on their work, or does the other side look strangely comfortable and friendly? Do you have the strength?
When there was that time when one word, only one word could have changed everything, and you choose to ignore the facts, can you live with yourself, or the outcome?
This isn't a fairy-tale story-book happy ending. People die, that is inevitable. No one is safe, not even the hero. This is reality, and reality is never fair. Can you deal with that? Or will you choose once more to cower in fear, refuse to say the name, give into demands? Now that the hero has fallen, will another take their place? We can hope, no, we can pray that there is.
The whole short article had been a call for gathering of arms. A call to join forces and fight. Harry momentarily closed his eyes. It was a pity it never happened.
Harry looked down at Devoney and brushed the hair from her sleeping face. There would be another hero, one greater than he. All the world had to do was wait. Just have a little more patience and wait. Harry watched his daughter sleep peacefully. She was all circled up like a cat. Harry rose to leave, but a tiny wrist shot up and stopped him.
"You can't go yet Daddy." She protested. Even through her seriousness, Harry could hear the sleep in her voice. Harry sat back down and Devoney crawled into his lap and lay down. "I don't want you to go!" She whispered, a certain sadness played on her voice.
Harry embraced her tight. "Daddy has to go...he's stayed far too long." He picked her up and for the last time, laid her back down in her bed and tucked her in. He knelt down next to the bed besides her and took one of her tiny hands in his. "I'll stay till your asleep, okay Princess?"
Devoney shook her head and stood back up and climbed out of bed and into his lap again. "You didn't finish."
Harry relented and let her stay in his lap. "Finish what?"
Harry felt his throat tighten. Lifting Devoney up in his arms, Harry sat both of them down on the bed and held her close. He wasn't sure he could tell her the ending; at least not the ending that haunted his waking hours. There is a fine line between not wanting to lie, and not wanting to hurt.
"Your mother…" For some reason getting the words out seemed harder as Harry chocked back a small sob. "Your mother is a woman I miss and love very much. In her troubled times, her love for you was one of the few constants." He held her tightly. "She loved you very much."
Devoney looked up at him locked her matching eyes on his. "Did she love you too Daddy?"
Harry almost cried, instead he nodded. "I like to think she did while she was here."
Devoney paused a moment before taking in what he had said. "Will I ever meet her?"
Harry sighed. "I believe that your mother is one of the spirits who will always be protecting you."
Devoney looked away. Harry supposed she had always held out a bit of hope. "Why didn't you save her?" She asked softly. It utterly broke Harry's heart.
"I tried, please believe me sweetheart, I tried. But not even the hero can defeat all of the evil." Harry held her hand, and looked at her tiny face. "Someday, it'll be your job to vanquish the evil."
Devoney looked up at him with puzzled eyes. "Why?"
Harry smiled at the simplicity of the question. "Because you have my genes, my scars," He fingered the lightning bolt birthmark on the inside of her left wrist before frowning and adding, "and my curses."
"Will I be strong?" She asked. Already Harry could see the power in her innocent eyes.
"Stronger than anyone." He leaned in close as if to whisper a secret. "Even me!"
This brought a small giggle from Devoney. Harry let go of her little hands to search though his box of memories. "You mother did leave you something special!" Once he found the letter with its faded brown lettering, he placed it into her eager fingers. "But you have to promise me you won't open it until that special day."
Devoney looked from the letter to her father, unable to hide her disappointment. "What day is that?"
"You'll know when it happens." He answered as he smoothed her unruly hair. Sighing, Harry pulled back her covers and tucked her in. "Now you need to sleep. It's gotten late."
Devoney nodded and stared contently at the letter, before slowly pronouncing the two words on the back. "Her-my-o-ni Pot-er." She looked up wide-eyed at Harry. "The belle-lady?"
Harry smiled. "Yes Princess, the belle-lady."
Smiling contently, Devoney lay back on her pillow and slowly shut her eyes. As an after-though, bolted straight back up with fear filled eyes. She grabbed hold of the sleeve of Harry's shirt. "Promise you'll stay?"
Harry chocked back a sob as he looked down at the pair of identically green eyes that were desperately afraid that he would leave before she fell asleep. Geez, Harry thought to himself, I'm getting soft in my old age.
"I promise!" He answered gently taking his seat next to her pillow.
Then, with Devoney clutching his fingers, Harry watched her drift off to sleep as he drifted through his memories.
It wasn't until much later that Harry finally learned the whole truth...about everything. About how Ron had become an alcoholic after Hermione had disappeared...nearly 3 years after they were married and two years before Harry had confronted him. Ron had always assumed she had run off to him. He learned the real reason Hermione wore long sleeves all the time, about why she ran off that night, and why she had chosen him.
Harry waited until he was certain that Devoney was in a deep sleep. As he got up to leave, her tiny fist grabbed his sleeve once more.
"I love you Daddy!" She sleepily whispered to him before promptly falling back to sleep.
Harry took one last look at his daughter, memorizing every detail. "I love you too Princess." Harry whispered before he slowly vanished from view.
Harry had known that this would always be his job. He would have to be the one to kill Hermione once he found her, a deatheater who held no remorse. Once he had found her all he could do was hold on to her tightly, unwilling to let her go. Given the circumstances, he knew he would have to kill her. Her, this betraying witch, yet somehow it all felt wrong. He wasn't sure if he could do it. Unfortunately, she could.
As Hermione stabbed the needle into his neck, Harry knew that this was how he was going to die. Not in a huge battle between good and evil, but in the arms of the woman he had once trusted the most in the world. He no regrets, looking at Hermione, he could knew that she wasn't completely gone. Otherwise she wouldn't have given him a poison that had the possibility of being reverse, and she wouldn't be completely breaking down.
In a way, Harry though, at least I'll die near her. He hardly felt her tears or her gripping his hand. Everything was becoming muted now; however, clarity came when he saw Hermione poised to stick a new needle into her own neck. It took all of Harry's strength left to raise his hand to stop her.
"You can't!" He managed to croak out. "You have to give her a chance."
It might have been the weight of all of the sins she had committed to get to this point taking their toll, or it might have been when Harry's hand rested on her slightly enlarged stomach. Whatever the reason, the state Hermione's mind had been in completely shattered. She gripped his hand with a strength Harry was surprised she had, apologizing between sobs.
"I'm sorry, Harry. I thought it would work. I'm so sorry." Harry gathered all of his strength and sat up. He put both of his hands on either side of Hermione's head and pulled her face to his for their last kiss.
Harry rested his forehead against hers. His strength was fading fast. "I love you Hermione." He whispered. "I always have. You don't know how much I regret not telling you that on the day you asked me." He let his hands fall as he shakily lay back down. There wasn't much time left. He looked at her. "I should have been telling it to you every day since I met you." He closed his eyes. It took too much strength to keep them open now. "It should be me who is apologizing, not you. I am so sorry. So very, very sorry..."
Harry opened his eyes for the last time and stared into the true Hermione's eyes; once more bright and clear, now filling with tears. He had never seen a more beautiful sight. He forced a smile for her sake. "Good bye."
Hermione's lips were on his in an instant. A mix of her taste and tears stayed on his lips. "No, no, no…" Hermione was starting to sense the now inevitable. "Please, not yet, no, please!" She continued to hold his hand, continued to cry, and never stopped begging.
The authorities found Hermione weeping over Harry's now still body an hour later. It took them another hour to drag Hermione away from it. A cold silence was struck throughout the land.
Six and nine-tenths of a years later :
Sitting around a small wooden table was a picture perfect little family. A mother, feeding a tiny baby. A tiny bouncy baby boy who had somehow achieved in getting his breakfast all through his non-existent hair. And a daughter, eating a piece of toast smothered with marmalade and reading a book much thicker than the normal school reader for a fifth grader.
Regular breakfast banter was also occurring. "What would you like to do for your birthday next week Devy?" Emily asked cheerfully as she tried once more to put a spoonful of mashed bananas into the squirming baby's mouth. Devoney paused her reading for a moment. They both knew that a party with school friends was out of the question.
The father of the family was just coming down the stairs into the kitchen, ready to eat his breakfast. He would of course need his newspaper first. "Morning Dev," He affectionately ruffled her messy black hair as he sat down. "Would you be a dear and fetch the mail please?"
Standing up quickly, Devoney did her best to hide the fact her morning mood had taken a turn for the worse from the impending birthday question. "Sure thing Dad."
Indeed, it was a perfect little family, with the lone exception that the daughter was not their own. They all loved each other very much, and Devoney had known right from the beginning that she had been adopted. Black hair and green eyes is a hard combination to achieve from blonde hair and brown-eyed parents. Even though the circumstances of her birth and her blood-family history remained completely blank to her, as far as Devoney was concerned Paul and Emily Callaghan were her parents, just as much as she herself was Devoney Callaghan. Unfortunately school children aren't always so forgiving on those whom are different. If there was thing she lacked however, it certainly wasn't love on the home front.
Making her way over to the door, Devoney bent down and picked up the waiting mail. As she walked back into the kitchen, she riffled through the letters. "Paper, bill, bill, flyer, bill, magazine, bill, hey…there's something her for me!" She called out excitedly as she drew closer to the kitchen.
She stopped just before the doorway into the kitchen, and slowly read the cover of the letter out loud. "Hogwarts…"
She paused, the name seemed strikingly familiar. Sudden still flashes from a dark night discussion flickered through her mind, none of them making any sense. As she looked up from the letter, out of the corner of her eye, just for a second, Devoney could have sworn she saw a bright shining face of someone she had convinced herself had only existed in her memories. Whoever he was, he looked so proud of her, Devoney tried to have a double take on the vision, but just as quickly has he had appeared, he disappeared completely from view.
For a reason unbeknownst to her, Devoney felt the spark of tears in her eyes. She didn't know why, but she felt as if she needed to make that shimmering figure proud of her. "I will." She whispered to a question not asked by no one in particular.
Wiping the damp spots on the corners of her eyes, Devoney felt herself start to smile brightly. She didn't know what the thick old-fashioned envelope held for her, but she knew of one thing for certain…from here on end, nothing would ever be the same again. Walking through the kitchen door to her family, she took the first steps towards her new life.
Because this is a weekly (mostly...I'm working on a 3 week on, 2 week off shift. So please forgive any accidental delays) updated story, if you want to read more please add me to Author/Story Alert in order to never miss an update about Devoney and her story.
To see the rest of Devoney's Adventure, please check out the story 'Memories of Younger'! (this is just a one-shot. There will be no more chapters added to this page)
As always, let me know what you thought (liked/disliked). Till next time!