I woman I know offered me to translate this chapter. But she had a lot to do, was/is ill and so on… now I decided to translate it myself. SORRY for my poor English. I ´ll upload a betad version as soon as possible. But I think you had to wait long enough… so here's chapter 23.

Brezel: Hi, thanx for the review. Well, I read something in book 7. Better said, "Hermione" read that "healing" a soul would cause unbearable pain. So… this was the idea behind.

Liv: No you know what Harry und Voldy have been talking about. Surprised?

Luth: Thanx for the Review und SORRY for updating so slowly

Sabriel: Hi, well… I have to admit. Not all chapters are betaed. But I HOPE more chapters will be betaed soon.

Chapter 23: Hospital-soap

The morning came, was dark and dull, yet it didn't rain. It was already 10.p.m, as they woke up. Somehow Hermione should have been upset, only one hour to go, till they would come for him. But on the other hand, what else was left to do? Everything was said, everything was done.

So she got dressed, sat herself on the bed and watched him mutely as he washed himself and got dressed, too.

Hermione didn't want to wash herself. Not yet. Not, as long she noticed his smell on her. Smelled his skin on her hands, as she held them to her nose. She wanted to keep this smell, him, as long as possible. At least, until the evening.

They gave him proper clothes, as the trial started. A black robe, probably the one he wore as he was admitted to the hospital. Now he got it back. She still had two bottles of pumpkin-juice in her bag. They drank it, then the clock at the wall showed eleven p.m. and the door opened.

Still the same Aurors like yesterday. Fine, so they didn't have to explain to them why Hermione was with him.

„We have to go. " Eight Aurors. All of them held the wand at the ready, but they didn't look as if they liked to fight and, actually, Voldemort didn't look that way, either. He simpley stood there, mute, with a bottle of pumpkin juice in his hand and nodded to them.

Hermione stood up, took the bottle away from him and placed it on the trolley. Their eyes met, now it was time to say good-bye to each other.

They got hesitatingly closer, till she heard him breathing. But of course, he breathed rather loud, at all. Holding her head up straight, she could see his Adam's apple slipping up and down, nervously. Saw bluish veins, one couldn't see them a step back, shimmering through his marble-like white skin. She was so close to him, she sensed the warmth of his body.

A smell of hospital-soap urged into her noise… she would remember this. Because he'd washed himself a few minutes ago, he still smelled of hospital-soap. She bent herself a bit forward, pressed her nose into the curve of his neck and suck this smell deep into her, to safe this memory. She was barley aware of his the two hands which stroke her upper-arms. She also didn't hear the tensed swallowing inside his throat, which her forehead leaned on.

So much is forgettable. Words, doings, incidents… so much fades away, when time goes by. But not the things she was aware of right now, not the impressions she saved inside her, at this very moment. The warmth of his body, the cool, smooth stuff of his robe and the smell of hospital-soap, only half-way overlaid by his own, pleasing smell.

These things would never leave her. Even in fifty years she would think of him, if smelled hospital-soap. Would be thrown within seconds back to this moment.

She felt the touch of his hand, as he stroke his long fingers along her cheek. His hand was still warm, although the room was cold. Still warm, smelling of soap, soon this would be gone.

Hermione swallowed, tried to stay in the here and now. Her own hand touched his and pressed it. His hands sweated, trembled. He was upset and scared.

First it was just a warm breeze, getting closer to her forehead, then she felt his breath as he bent over her his kissed her temple with dry lips, tenderly.

Hermione felt like screaming, tears came into her eyes, yet she couldn't cry. She didn´t want to, because she didn´t want to make him feel worry about her. He was already scared, so much, she felt it. „I'm going now, thank you", was all, he said to her.

Hermione nodded and tried to swallow the thicker getting lump in her throat down, but didn't achieve to do it. Still she held his hand. Slowly she raised her head and tried to keep and safe every detail she saw sucked every inch of his body in into her, because she would never see him again.

Her fingers caressed his cheek for a good-bye. She worked on a smile, which was answered, although they both weren't cheerful.

„Don't be afraid", she whispered comforting, because she knew how afraid he really was and she couldn't help in any other way, "don't be afraid. Everything is going to be well. If you allow it, you'll do better than last time. It won't take long, it won't hurt and then you'll be", she swallowed and leaned her forehead against his chest, "somewhere else and you'll be feeling fine. Where you'll think of me, won't you?" Hermione bit herself on her lips to stop an upraising moan inside her. "Till we see us again. Yes?"

His breath puffed against her face because he'd laughed, so she could smell the pumpkin-juice he drank. He didn't laugh at her, was all calm and nodded. "All right, but you'll have to think of me too. Till we meet again. Remember not only of the bad things, will you?"

Two arms were wrapped around her, like a wonderful soft, warm coat, pulled her closer and hold her tight for a moment. Two lips whispered silent word of good-bye into her ear, as his breath stroke over her ear.

Hermione pressed her head as close as possible to him, huddled against his chest, her arms closed around him and her fingers clawed into his robe in order to keep what they were holding now.

But oh so fast, yet slowly at the same, he was pulled away from her by the Aurors, so she had to let go. She wouldn't have done it voluntary, but this was the way things had do go.

The Aurors didn't seem to be happy about their task. Just did their job… coming for someone who they had to kill wasn't fun to them. Wasn't used to them, either.

She could read it in their faces and it offered a small comfort to her to know, what they would treat him fair, when the time was come. They would allow him to go, they wouldn't push him through the archway.

He was already a few steps away from her, but Hermione still stood as motionless as before, right on her spot and watched him go. And then, he nodded, turned around, the Aurors handcuffed his wrists behind his back to guide him out… and Tom Riddle was gone.

Hermione didn't dare moving for maybe about five minutes. She also did not want to move because if she'd gone to the door, she might have heard the noise of his shoes, walking over the stone-floor. Maybe she'd even seen his robe, flying behind him. If that had happened, nothing could have held her back, then she'd run after him in order to hug him and nothing in the whole world could have ever make her letting go.

But this wasn't the case and so no question about letting go or not, anymore. Sometime she managed to move again. She remembered the hospital-wand in her hands. Remembered, that she still had to pull off the bedspread and to clean up the room, before she was allowed to go. Beds, she would never have to make again. It felt so strange to touch the sheets. She buried her face in the sheets and took a smell at them. Only an imagination, or could she really still feel the warmth of his body, as her cheeks sensed the stuff?

She drew a bag from the trolley and started letting float leftovers, newspaper articles, tissues, as well as all the other little things which were left from Tom, into it.

The mood-flower ended up in the bag as well. Nice invention, pretty to watch, but right now she hated this flower. Bloody true, as true like her also hating the aroma bowls, he loathed so much. Everything in and about this room, everything should end up on the thrash because she never wanted to see it, at all.

And she hated him, as well. Damn right. From the bottom of my heart. How could he do this to her? Getting so close to her and then, turning around in order t o leave her, just like that? If he'd been with her, Hermione would have surely beaten him up… and took him with her… home. There she'd go on hating him for the rest of her live, because then he would have stayed with her.

No, Hermione didn't want to cry. She wanted to be mad. Mad at everyone. The bag became a punching bag. Fraught with overwhelming anger she stamped everything in there into pieces. Jerked the bag on the bed and battered it over and over again. This was so unfair. Everyone were so ungrateful… all people. They were so damn stupid, unfair but first of all, ungrateful.

Couldn't anyone say "thank you" to her?

That they'd lain into her young hands in early may was barley more than what Harry´d seen in his Kings Cross vision. A physical and mental wreck. Hermione didn't only risk her job, her further carrier, her friendships, but also money, free time and her own mental health in the end, in order to make something what could called a human being again.

And was that the thanks she got?

Filled with anger, she threw the pumpkin-juice bottles against the wall, just to fix them thereafter so she could bang them again at the wall.

Those people had taken him away from her. Just like this. ABDUCTION! Damn right. The pumpkin-juice bottles were followed by the both empty butter beer bottles, which still stood beside the bed on the floor. Where he and Harry had been sitting, last night.

Hermione hated Shackelbolt, Hopkirk but first of all the Aurors, who came into the room this morning.

But most of all, Hermione hated herself… because she'd let him go as the Aurors took him with them. Because she'd promised to take care of him, but failed at the end because she'd been too weak. Because she´d allowed the abductors to tear him out of her arms.

She'd let him die. Had failed.

If she'd only get mad enough, no matter at whom, then she would accomplish not crying. She would never grant this triumph to that vermin. Helen, this lunatic who hated him so much and Claris, the harpy…the both of them, who now probably stood upstairs, already champagne glasses in their hands.

Hermione's eyes wandered to the clock above the bed. She had to be done, her friends were surley waiting for her. A quarter past eleven.

Hermione was appalled as she saw the door open. Why wasn't it closed? She'd almost run through the door to close it, but then it occurred to her. Oh right, what had to be parted from the rest the world was already taken away.

She could go. All was done, yet she walked over to his bed. Sat down at first, but then her whole body sunk down at the mattress. Still she had no tears, not even as she stroke the yellow-grey chequered hospital-mattress for a last time where he would never lie again, because he would never be anywhere again, at all.

Hermione got up, took the list from the trolley and did her check. Everything she had to bring back was collected. Her stomach cramped, she felt sick and nearly had to vomit, as she had to take the trolley back to the place, she got it at her first day. Hermione turned around as she went out and shouted: "See you, I…" her voice died. What did she do? Nonsense, nobody was here to whom she had to say good-bye.

Before she could think about this any further, she hurried out. Stifling inside here. Terrible fuggy, she had struggle for breath, needed fresh air in order to be able to breathe again. For a short moment, everything went black, she staggered but managed to support herself on the trolley, to rescue herself from fainting.

THERE! She'd seen something from the corner of her eyes. Her head jerked around. There was… no. Just imagined. Of course, she'd just imagined to see a body standing beside the window. Nobody stood there, no one, at all. Hermione was alone upstairs, all alone.

Why such a silence in the corridors? Why was she alone? Why weren't the Aurors here? Oh right, she remembered, because they´d already come for him.

Like being in a trance, she walked through this corridor, he went through just a short time ago. She knew they'd lead him through the cellar to the next chimney, to bring him to the ministry. To the death-chamber… Yet, she hoped to catch a sight on him as she walked upstairs. No, he was away. Only forty minutes to go till his execution.

Without a word of good-bye or an explanation, Hermione brought the hospital-wand to Claris, thanks Merlin, empty bureau. Where it would dissolve into dust, in the end of the week. Useless, not needed anymore.

She wouldn't look around. Actually she had to put her cloak away, but she didn't want to do it. She put it off and let it drop down to the floor. Her last report, she had to deliver (the very thought "the last" was worse enough), she would owl it in a few days. But now she only wanted to leave and she NEVER EVER wanted to set a single step into this building again.

She saw Claris and Helen standing together, as she left. Deep in a conversation, looking unsettled. They became quiet, as they saw Hermione und nodded good-bye. Hermione didn't answer the nod, wasn't able to do this. Maybe they would meet again someday. If this would happen, they could talk… but not today.

Ron, Harry and Ginny were standing outside, oh how merciless predictable this was, already waiting for her.

Without a word, the four of them, set off through the town. Ron laid his arm protectively around her shoulders. He didn't understand her, but he felt sympathy for the way she felt right now. Maybe he had a vague premonition of what had been going on, but he was tactful enough to keep quiet. For the moment, this was enough. Actually, more as she'd hoped to get. Harry and Ginny didn't say anything, as well. Here friends were with her and this was more important, than well meant words or empty comfort tries. Harry appeared withdrawn. Didn't say much, since he'd talked with Tom. Was still deep in thoughts… They should talk about so many things, but, first she had to understand it for herself. But seeing Harry like this, pensively, not triumphant, made it more bearable for her.

Tonight, Hermione blew her nose, because tonight all would be over, tonight she would ask Harry what they'd been talking about last night.

Harry und Ginny invited them to the Grimmauldplace tonight, so they went into a muggle-store to buy several things for supper. Harry had enough money with him, so everyone was allowed to take what they liked. A bell rang at twelve o'clock, as they stood at the supermarket checkout. Some child had a singing watch, programmed to ring at high noon. Involuntary Hermione looked at the child, at his arm, at the watch…and between all the people around her, packed with noodles, cheese and sausage, Hermione started to cry.


10 p.m… Finally they decided to come to the burrow. After Hermione had calmed down, all she wanted was to leave her room in the Leaky Cauldron as soon as possible. Didn't want to stay a single second longer than necessary in London. The others agreed and so they apparated to the burrow, where the inconsolably threw herself into the arms of her parents. First they sat together in the Weasley`s living room, while the Weasleys did as if they would have to do something else, then she went upstairs and locked herself in the bathroom for the rest of the afternoon. Sometime in the early evening she came down with eyes cried red, back to her friends who didn't understand her, but at the same, didn't leave her.

The four friends sat again outside in the garden and watched the gnomes, just the way they did it last time, the day before Hermione's first day in the hospital.

„What have you been talking about last night? " Hermione couldn't help from asking what she needed to know. Harry squirmed a bit unsettled on the bank, cleared his throat and as he spoke, he didn't sound like an eighteen year old boy, rather than an eighty year old man.

„About many things, I've ask him about my past. About my parents, why he'd chosen me, of all people. If there had been any other persons who'd betrayed my parents and if he'd nether doubted about killing me. I also asked him about Dumbledore. I think he sort of adored him. Well, and he told me how my parents died…" He took a sip from his pumpkin-juice, to pause a bit. Ginny rested her head on her boyfriend's shoulder, to convey a little comfort.

„He answered me all my questions in detail, stuck to the facts and kept calm. Was okay, this way." He paused again for a moment, glancing at his shoes down on the ground, then raised his head again and faced Hermione. "We also spoke about the years after his return. We've seen a lot of same things, from different point of views. I think this was interesting for both of us, the other perspective…" Another break and they watched the gnomes playing hide-and-seek. Somehow they looked like ugly potato with worm-legs. Or brown balls, rolling around through the garden, but with the small difference that real balls wouldn't raid the Weasleys vegetable garden.

„He'd asked me about several things, too. He wanted to know, what I and Dumbledore have learned about his past. He asked about his relatives, particularly about his mother. He wanted to hear a lot about her… And, well, about the world in between, you know, as they fell during the battle. He liked to hear what I had seen."

Hermione sighed. Ron stroke over her back and in the following silence, they all thought back to the time when they were hunting him.

„And he asked me about Sirius."


Harry blushed a bit and lowered his eyes, as he spoke on with a soundless voice. "Did you forget? Sirius also fell trough the archway. He asked if I'd believe that Sirius was in pain as he died. I said "no". Sirius appeared all calm and peaceful. I think he liked that, he was calmer, after he heard that."

Hermione blew her nose again. No matter if anyone would understand her sorrow, no matter how irrational her grief was… her friends were surely the best friends in the whole world, because they were with her didn't reproach her.

"But he'd told me something else before I left", Harry added as pensively, as if he were a very old man of 150 years, resuming on the essence of his past life. "He asked as to be nice to Hermione" Harry sat, patted her knee and went on revealing "… and he said we should try to be special or let ourselves get possessed from useless things. Dumbledore and he were special people, but it made them just being unhappy. "

Hermione thought back to all the things he´d told her and how much he'd changed. Did she forget anything important to tell him? But probably words weren't so important, at all. The both of them knew, what they'd felt for each other and this was more important than any conversation they could have held.

Actually, she was sure, he wouldn't be this skinned, moaning something, Harry had seen in Kings Cross. He'd become something more. Not longer soulless he was allowed to move on.

Hermione rummaged around in her trouser pocket and fished the small slip out; she'd got with a ministry-owl two hours ago. A message from Ben. Maybe she would throw it away later in, but now she had to read it to make herself belief that it was true.

„Today, October, 8, 1998, Tom Marvolo Riddle was executed on high noon, London local time. According to the execution-way, he died immediately."

Again the tears run down her face.

She'd let him go.

She´d failed.