A/N: Ok, re-released because my FF version really did… well suck. There on no page breaks between time character POV or time. Plus its all beta'd now.
Friday: May 24th: 10:25
If I could go back, two minutes say with a Time Turner, I could have watched my best friend kill three people here in this small, dingy room, a room which has two small beds and one lamp, shabby curtains and a small shower room, and Ron - my best friend Ron, who has now killed three Death Eaters.
I'm looking down at his knife, buried to the hilt in one of the men's thick neck, blood covering him, the blade, Ron. The lifeless look of shock engraved into the man's face
I look down at the last body to be slain, its leg twitching. The nerve Ron caught with his knife must be doing that, and the wooden boards beneath the body become stained with blood.
A thud from the Death Eater's leg brings my mind back to the scene, and I realize we are still in danger - a lot of danger.
Hermione rushes forward and falls on her knees by Ron's side, and I still haven't moved. We desperately need to get moving, but Hermione's just crying into his neck saying "Thank you" over and over while I'm standing here just thinking we should be, by all rights, captured or murdered by these Death Eaters right now.
It seems bewildering that Ron's just killed three people, and we're both thanking him, albeit I am doing so silently. Without him, we could be dead … or in the process of being tortured still. I collect our wands from the fallen Death Eaters. The girl has mine, and the man with the twitchy leg has Hermione's. I find the other, Ron's first victim, by the shower room, slumped on the wall, blood still seeping from a long cut across his neck.
How they found us I don't know, but I know that we should be moving quickly. More should be coming; these were trying to get a head start, a praise from their lord. It's with a sickly feeling that I find I am happy these Death Eaters turned up first; we wouldn't have been able to escape if there were any more.
"We need to get out of here - home maybe," I finally manage to say aloud.
I throw Hermione her wand as she gets off the floor. She does three identical wand movements, and our luggage is packed. She looks back at Ron again, tears forming in her eyes.
I rush to him, trying to help him get up; I grab his arm, still slippery from the blood, and haul him up.
"Find some clothes for him, anything"
I look at Ron again. He's shaking, breathing heavily, muscles twitching, a tinge of green set in his features, and he's still undressed, only his boxers covering his modesty while Hermione's rummaging through his bag trying to find him something easy to wear. I slump on the bed, silently thanking the world he chose to have the first warm shower over getting a bed for the night. His surprise attack saved us. I feel a slight twinge in the side of my face and feel the swollen bump that is forming on the right side of my cheek.
Hermione throws him some jogging bottoms and a sweat-shirt with a faded Cannons logo printed on the shoulder. Ron seems to be kicking in now, pulling on his clothes and looking anxious to get out of this place. The wet blood is soaking through the orange shirt
"Are you okay to Apparate, Ron?" Hermione asks, sadness filling her face again.
He is still breathing heavily and remorsefully shakes his head slightly. Hermione grabs his hand and spins. I blink, and they're both gone.
Glancing around the room a final time, I see three lifeless bodies, all with puncture wounds in seemingly fatal parts of their bodies. I notice Ron's blade is still in that man's neck. I bend down and pull it out. Blood starts seeping through the wound slowly, and I feel the need to vomit. I stand up, willing myself not to regurgitate my pitiful meal. I'm wasting time. I take my backpack and look one last time, burning the memory into my mind. This is what my best friend is willing to do for me, for us; not only do they risk their lives, but they risk everything.
There are three more victims in this second war.
Friday: May 24th : 10:30
Rona and I arrive back in Grimmauld Place's kitchen. The scenery has changed, and yet the three bodies are still etched into my mind, what they look like, what they said to me, what they did to Harry… and what Ron did to save us. I look up at him into his blue eyes, which are looking straight into mine, the first tears forming in his eyes. I can't help myself as my self control crumbles, and my vision blurs. I touch his hand and retract it as soon as I feel the cold stickiness of the liquid that has dried there. That's when he loses his composure. He's stumbling to the sink, chairs being flung out of his way by those powerful legs, some by raw magic. He grips the metal basin and retches. I quickly move to his side turning the water on. He's not vomiting anything up; he's just dry-heaving into the sink.
"Ron, calm down"
He doesn't listen. He's breathing heavier, determined it seems to throw something up, anything. I start to rub his back, and his body violently jerks.
"Don't touch me," he says in a sobbing gasp. I can't help it, and I'm crying in earnest now.
He runs his hands under the water, grabbing the wash brush, intent on scrubbing his hands red raw. The sticky blood is coming off, mixing with the water and Ron's tears as they fall down his face. I hear the crack of the Apparation and take no notice. He's moving the sleeve of his sweatshirt up, and there is still blood; he flings the brush into the sink and runs his hands through his hair and takes a deep breath. He lowers his hands, and his face crumples again.
"Blood in my hair… so much blood."
I grab his hand and march him up the stairs; I glance back at Harry who is now bracing himself by the sink. Sadness etched into his face and the slump of his shoulders that signal his exhaustion. I pull him up the stairs, through the bathroom and light three of the lamps.
"Not too bright"
I put out the last lamp and leave the two by the door burning, creating an eerie shadow of the both of us. I point my wand to the bathtub taps and start filling it. I turn around, and he's looking at me again, his eyes asking me a non-verbal question. I collapse into his chest, snaking my arms around him. His arms close around me, and his body is shaking with silent sobs.
"I'm a murderer," he gasps
"I killed them, Hermione."
"No, no, no," I say, shaking my head into his chest
"I killed them; I'm as bad as them."
"No," I literally shout. "Did You Hear? Did you hear what they were going to do? What they did to Harry? Did you see?"
"Yes," he lets out silently, nodding his head into my hair
"Would you rather that happened."
"They're the wrong ones, the evil ones; you stopped it; don't blame yourself. Do you hear me?" I look up, and his eyes are closed, and he looks like he is in pain. "You hear me, Ron; you saved us," I say, my face crumpling with emotion again, shaking him to enforce my point. He grabs me again, and I fall willingly into his embrace.
"I love you; I will be forever thankful for what you did for me and Harry tonight." I whisper, kissing into his chest
A small smile cracks through his distraught face when I say the first three words, and his troubles seem momentarily forgotten. We haven't been in this relationship for long, just a little over eight months, but we both know what I have just said is true. He doesn't need to say it back, I can tell by the way he has grasped me tighter, how he has buried his head into my hair and by the way he kisses the crown of my head. I kiss him again, softly on the lips, and turn to leave as he starts to get undressed.
Friday: May 24th : 10:43
As I ease myself into the bath water, I can feel the tension leave my body. The wound up muscles ease, and the thumping headache I've had slowly disappears. Tonight's been too much, and I really feel the need for a glass of whiskey and a soft bed. But that's just not going to be probable tonight. Harry will want to speak; Hermione will want to speak more.
Hermione, there's a conversation topic onto itself. When we first started this … well romantic relationship, she was fairly cautious, careful about our … interactions. Krum had been the only bloke she'd relaxed enough around to let invade a small amount of "personal space", as she called it and that was more or less her trying to forget what I did after that bloody ball. But what she just said, well that's huge, somewhat overshadowed by tonight's events, but soothing none the less.
With what we're doing with Harry, our work rarely lends us personal moments to get to know each other the way we would like to. We had barely got past passionate kissing in our last … meeting; let alone getting to the stage of saying those words. Bollocks, I think. Should I have said it back? That probably would've been the smart thing to do. But then, I'm not exceptionally smart; well, not compared to her. Who forgets their bloody wand when you're doing what we have to do? I lean further back, rubbing my face, and I notice the blood trickling down my hands, the blood from my hair.
So much blood, I think, sinking further into the bath with my head going under the hot, soapy water.
"Right, two beds, probably ten minutes of hot water. Who wants what?" Harry says entering the room.
"That bed's mine," Hermione calls, a smirk on her lips at the thought of a mattress and extra covers. "Luke-warm water I think I can handle."
"Whatever, mate, but to be honest, I'd like a scalding shower ... remove some of the grime from that cave." In my mind, I include the fact that Harry looks dead on his feet and is as pale as a ghost.
"Fine," Harry says, crawling onto the bed. " 'Spose you could always share with Hermione," he says tiredly with a genuine smile on his face.
Hermione is prettily blushing and casually shrugs her shoulders; Ron fishes out a towel from his bag, placing his wand inside, and goes into the shower room, trying hard not to show his glee from the actual possibility of sharing a bed with his girlfriend. As he shuts the door and gets un-dressed, he can hear Harry's laughter stop suddenly as he shouts to Hermione. Two Apparation cracks follow the shout.
"Impedimenta," a gruff voice shouts.
"Move, and I kill him," a female high-pitched voice shouts.
"Where's the third? Hoit, go check the bathroom."
Ron pushes himself flat behind the door. The Blond haired Death Eater crashes through the door, hitting and breaking the porcelain sink. The DeathEater notices the open window and rushes to it, not noticing the door is not shutting again and the fact that Ron's jacket is showing some sleeve underneath the lopsided slant of the door.
"Bastard," he mutters and slams the window shut, cracking the glass.
"The window's open; he's legged it." Apparent fear is in his voice.
"Shite, we should have waited for more of us to arrive."
"At least we have the important two," the female says.
"She's a pretty little thing," the man with the gruff voice growls after a moment of silence. Ron's blood is pounding into his head, all apparent fear for himself gone. He slowly reaches into his jean pocket and takes out the lock knife his father had bought him before they left.
"She's a mudblood," the blond haired man says. "She's not fit for a painless death."
"The Dark Lord wants them alive," the female replies, with obvious distaste for the idea.
"Why can't we kill him now. It would be so easy, one curse, straight into that heart…. Crucio. "
Harry's screams are rebounding against the bathroom walls. Ron quietly as possible tries to push the door forward, cursing his stupidity for forgetting his wand. He needs enough room to get past without alerting the three Death Eaters. He catches sight of the man with dark hair leering at Hermione after his torture of Harry, and all bad feelings about what he must do leave through that cracked window. The blond man leans against the doorframe, half of his body leaning against the wall, the other half blocking half of the doorway.
"Anything to say, dear Harry," the female says tauntingly.
Harry is whispering, and the female leans forward, trying to hear what he is saying. She blanches back in disgust as Harry's spit lands on her face; the man leering at Hermione grabs Harry by the scruff and pounds his face into the wall, punching the side that isn't connected to the wall.
"You wait, Potter, I'm gonna enjoy breaking you, hurting you. And can you guess what I'm going to do then? I'm going to take the filth and rape her and hurt her and make her wish for death, and if you're not dead, then you're going to listen and watch all of this. I'm gonna make you watch."
Harry looks murderous, and Hermione looks scared and somewhat defiant, but tears are visible. The three Death Eaters are focused on Harry as the large man punches him in the gut; they are all laughing.
This was the moment he was waiting for, all eyes on something else.
Ron moves forward, using his left hand, he pierces the blond Death Eater's neck and drags the blade across, the blood sprays Ron's arm. The Death Eater's gasping and gurgling sounds alert the other two, but it's too late. The female Death Eater gives Ron a shocked look when he lunges forward, grabbing her wand arm, and plunges his knife into her belly.
"Avada Kedavra," the man cries, but the female body blocks the curse's path. Harry barges into the Death Eater's right side, and the second curse hits and shatters the mirror next to the shower room door. Ron grabs his left arm and sinks the now blood red point into his lungs, then the side of his throat. The man coughs blood over Ron.
With this last vision indented into my head, I wake violently, the bath water getting sent over the edge of the tub. I lay back and rub my face; all I want to do is sleep, regardless of that nightmare. I look to the clock above the door. One hour I have been in here; the other two must be getting worried.
"Ron, are you there," Hermione says outside the door, worry lacing her voice.
"Yeah, I'm about to get out now. I'll see you down in the kitchen."
"Do you … do you need help getting out? Are you hurt?" The worry still persistent in her voice.
"Nah, not a scratch. I'm fine. I'll be out in two. Alright?"
"Are you sure?"
"Course I am, love. Just give me minute. Okay?"
She doesn't answer, but I can hear the sounds of her feet clumping down the stairs. It's with a heavy heart that I rise out of the alluring warm water and start to dry myself off.
There are specks of blood on my hands, yet they're persistent. They don't come off; no amount of soap or scrubbing cleans the specks off. Soon, I think, they will just mix in with the red raw skin. I hear Hermione put the kettle on. Tea. Tea right now seems like a far away novelty.
"We've got to tell someone, Harry!" Hermione says.
"Yeah, Remus, Tonks, someone who can notify the Ministry but keep us safe."
"Kingsley and Tonks,"she suggests. "Both Order, both Aurors."
I nod and sigh. That's the best course of action, and they could always use one of our memories to back up our account of our actions.
Ron's blood stained knife is still in the centre of the table where I left it. I don't want to touch it; I don't feel I have the right to touch it. Hermione's looking at it, too, somewhat wearily.
"Should we clean it?" Hermione says with a nervous tint to her voice.
I don't say anything. Just one swift wand movement, and the bubbles are surrounding it. Hermione starts writing a letter, and I find myself picking at the wood, trying to occupy my mind. What went on tonight feels surreal, like it hasn't happened, yet when I close my eyes I still hear their taunts,
I look to Hermione. If anything was to happen to her, to Ron, that would be it; they're everything to me - too good, too important. Who else in this world would risk life and limb for their best friend? Who would willingly stand by a marked man from the age of 11, swearing oaths of allegiance that's now led one of them to kill? Both of them to leave there educations and safety behind, to leave their families and what would be considered care-free lives for a simple best friend? These two people are honestly one in a million, and I have both of them. And they now have each other, sparingly, but they both now know how they feel, and they both now accept it.
"I'll make this up to you two, you know," I say, tears leaking down my face.
I look up, Hermione's tears stream from her eyes as well, and she gets up and pulls me into a hug. I'm not one, recently, for open affection, but tonight's opened my eyes and some gates.
"You have nothing to make up for; we chose this, given the choice we would choose this again."
I nod, still not trusting my voice, I feel her start rocking, and I'm starting to feel slightly soothed.
"I think we're going to need something stronger than tea to get through this conversation," I say after two or three minutes. She makes a face of resentment, but nods all the same; she gets up and reaches into Sirius's cabinet and pulls out a bottle of Fire-whiskey and three glasses. I'm pretty shocked that Hermione is willingly going to have a drink with us, not a normal occurrence; the last time was when we found and destroyed our first Horcrux. She pours healthy measures into the three glasses and returns the bottle to the cabinet.
"Do you want those bruises healed?"
I shake me head. I don't want this pain to go away yet. I need to remember, and I want to remember. Hermione, to her credit, doesn't nag or badger, but silently hands me my glass and sits near the entrance of the kitchen, waiting for Ron.
After another fifteen minutes, she gets anxious and goes upstairs, but comes down looking more worried. I glance at my watch and am slightly shocked that we've spent over an hour in our house. The sounds of the creaky stairs bring my attention home.
Ron's eyes brighten a little when he sees that Hermione's saved him a seat next to her and that she's poured him a large glass of whiskey. Suddenly, I feel like I'm in my thirties. Quests, evading torture and murder, living in a house as big as this, this isn't something a trio of eighteen year olds should be doing.
Hermione clears her voice, wanting to talk; I'm shocked again to notice that time has sped forward five minutes, and that Ron hasn't touched a drop of his whiskey, he's just running his thumb across Hermione's fingers. Small acts like this make me feel extremely happy and yet sad that I once had this, and it seems I have to persevere to get it back.
"Those bruises will heal eventually, you know, but it would be a lot quicker if you let Hermione heal them, mate."
I can't believe it. I look at him shocked and start laughing, something I thought wouldn't happen tonight. Ron has managed the impossible, even Hermione is somewhat laughing, although gazing at Ron as if he's in some sort of danger.
A shiny glint catches my eye, and I'm staring again at the knife - we all are. Time seems to have come to a standstill. He reaches out and pulls the knife towards him and looks at it, as if it's changed, as if it now has a personality. Ron sighs and places it back on the table, though right in front of him.
"Thank you," I blurt out.
Both heads turn my way, and I feel a blush rise. Ron simply nods.
"You've saved mine ... would've been selfish if I couldn't do the same for you," Ron says with a smile, but it's sad smile.
We fall into a silence again, and I feel tiredness attack me.
"So, what's going to happen now?" Hermione asks, apprehension in her voice.
"Well ...," I start, but get cut off with the arrival of two owls, Pig and Hedwig.
Hermione gets up and anxiously reads both letters. She exhales soundly.
"Tonks and Kingsley both are aware of the situation and would like us to know that two of the Death Eaters in question are wanted by the Ministry, though Tonks herself would like to review the sequence of events with us tomorrow. Other than that, they're happy to announce that the Ministry and the Order have taken my word that tonight's … events ... were necessary."
Ron's skin has taken on a green tinge again, and he gulps down the whiskey at a frightening speed. Hermione sits down next to Ron again, but with a noticeable difference. She's smiling.
"So, Harry, I take it, when we can, we're going to go and visit Little Hangleton again."
"Yeah," I say, scratching my head. "I have a feeling we might find something in the Riddle mansion, and it can't hurt to look at where the Ring was placed."
Ron's reading through the letters, and when he gets to the bottom of the smaller one a smile shows. I must have shown a curious emotion because he throws it at me.
"Read the bottom. I'm pretty sure he could get fired for that." Ron says with a smirk.
I scan the page, and when I see the line, I smirk as well.
"– and lastly, Hermione, please thank Ron for killing the scum that helped torture and kill Emmeline Vance. Not only has he made my life a little easier, but he's also spared me from killing the blond haired bastard myself. If Ron feels shaken up about tonight's events, tell him from me that I'm grateful, and many people will be. These people were very good at kidnap and torture. The Ministry has been trying to track these particular three for war crimes for a while now. No one will miss them.
Kinglsey Shacklebolt "
"Well," Hermione says, "I'm going to have a bath and go to bed"
I motion that I'm going to do the same, and the three of us get up from the table and head for the stairs. I look at the clock one last time. 12:15
"Thank you," I say again to him as we reach the top of the stairs. Again both heads turn to look at me, and Ron and I move forward and give each other a brief one armed hug.
"I would do it again if I had to, just like I know you would do the same for me as well," he says as we're linked.
We break apart, and I nod and make my way to Sirius's room where a hot bath calls to me.
"Oh yeah, Harry," Ron calls.
He waves his wand across my face, and the swelling in my cheek seems to have gone down.
I grin at him and walk away.
"So, Ms. Granger, what would you say to me if I asked if you would want a bathing partner tonight?" I ask with renewed enthusiasm. Knowing that there will be no legal troubles with the Ministry has released a lot of burden from my shoulders. Knowing that I've also helped the Order and the Ministry has also helped alleviate some more tension, but deep down in my gut there's still some uneasiness there. Guilt - that I had to take those lives.
She cocks her head to the left, and she tries but fails to conceal a smile.
"Would a hug not be enough?" She reaches up and links her arms around my neck.
"Well, it could be, but I feel like spending tonight alone would be a waste of what could be considered private time." She has a wide grin now and leans in to kiss me, but stops about a millimetre away from my mouth.
"I'm all dirty, and now you're all clean. Sharing water with me could make you dirty, too."
I lean into her lips and push her against the wall.
"I'll risk it."
"I think I'd like a bathing partner," she says as she opens the door to the bathroom, guiding me in with her hand and closing it with her foot.