Hello all! I just moved to university and I'm loving it here! This is the first thing I've written since I got here and it's kind of different from my usual writing style, but I hope you all like it! Review please? It'll make my day.
This story will most likely be a two-shot.
I don't own Harry Potter.
"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." – Albert Camus
She knew they'd all find out eventually. It wasn't something that was easy to hide. Between the disgusting scar on her wrist, the slender one on her neck, and the nightmares that were sure to plague her at night and leave her screaming, they would all know that something had happened.
That something had gone wrong.
Bill and Fluer knew, of course. She hadn't told them, really, but how could they not? She had not been conscious when they had arrived at Shell Cottage that night, but she could imagine it clearly: Ron on their front steps, cradling her broken and bleeding body in his arms, desperately shouting for help. Harry, crying on the beach with a slaughtered, innocent house elf in his arms. Four other outlaws, emaciated and scared, with haunted eyes, her own screams surely ringing in their ears.
Yes, Bill and Fleur knew. But she'd have to tell them the details. And the rest of the Weasleys would be told. They would be told the entire story, she was sure. And this was just a small part of it.
She decided to wait awhile. She couldn't quite bring herself to talk about it yet. It made her feel weak and vulnerable, and she hated herself for it. Ron and Harry assured her that she had no reason to feel weak. They said she should wait until she was ready.
And so she wore long sleeves, and no one asked about the scar on her neck. And when the three of them told the story of the previous year to the Weasley's, they had stuttered their way through the events at Malfoy Manor. They ungracefully skipped over the torture that had taken place that night.
But, a few nights after Fred's funeral, after several numb days had passed since the battle, she woke up screaming.
Her throat was raw and her body was heaving with sobs. The memories of pain she once felt reverberated through her. Bellatrix was over her, brandishing a gleaming dagger, a horrifying leer spread over her face. A dull, phantom pain remained as she opened her eyes to see Ginny sitting on her bed, reaching out to her, tears rolling down her cheeks. Arthur and Molly were in the doorway, Billy and Fleur and Charlie and Percy nearby.
Then, suddenly, Ron had burst into the room, Harry just behind him. They were pale. Ron had scooped Hermione's tiny, shaking form into his arms, murmuring into her ear. Harry ran his hands through his hair and roughly brushed unwanted tears from his own cheeks, before flying down the stairs and out into the fresh night air. The door slammed and echoed. Ginny had followed. She asked him what was wrong.
He hadn't answered.
Molly and Arthur watched their youngest son cradle this fragile young woman. They knew something had happened to her. Bill and Fleur looking on gravely, their eyes full of both understanding and confusion. Charlie looked stony. Percy looked skittish.
George had heard the commotion, but stayed in his room. Tears slid from his cheeks. This war had taken so much. So much more than just his beloved twin brother.
No one asked.
But then, a few nights later, the entire Burrow woke to Ron screaming.
And it was awful and terrifying to all of them.
Their hearts nearly broke as they heard Hermione's small feet running up the stairs. Heard her open and close the attic door crying, "I'm here, Ron. I'm here. I'm here." And then Harry crying, too.
The inhabitants of the Burrow knew something had happened. Last summer, only Harry had night terrors. Hermione didn't stare off into space for lengthy periods of time. Ron certainly never desperately called Hermione's name in his sleep. They all wondered.
None of them asked.
The next morning, Hermione told Harry and Ron that she was ready for them to know. She was tired of hiding from it. But she couldn't do it alone.
She told Molly and Fleur and Ginny. She sat them down in the sitting room, and said she needed to tell them something.
Molly and Ginny looked encouraging. Fleur looked at her with solemn, knowing eyes.
Hermione cleared her throat, feeling a lump rising. "B-Bellatrix... she... she..." Hermione stopped, swallowing hard, at a loss for words.
Suddenly, she grabbed her sleeve and ripped it up, exposing it.
"She... hurt me." Hermione finished, not knowing what to say or how to explain it.
Molly's eyes filled with tears. Ginny began to cry. Fleur was pale. She had seen the scar before, but that didn't make it any less shocking.
All four women cried as Hermione recounted the event in vivid, horrifying detail. She choked on her sobs as she spoke, telling them how the pain was unexplainable. She told them how the excruciating sensation ripped down her arms and legs, reverberated in places that she didn't even know could experience pain: the spaces between her fingers, the arches of her feet, her shoulder blades. Her eyes and teeth. Her very bones and blood.
Then Molly had gathered Hermione into her arms, whispering "Shhhhh, you're safe now, Love. You're safe. She's gone, she's gone." while tears tumbled down her cheeks and Hermione sobbed.
The three women stayed with Hermione until she felt all cried out, and all she wanted was sleep.
They tucked the fragile young woman into bed, worry in their eyes and hearts.
George cornered Harry in Ron's attic bedroom the following afternoon. It was a beautiful day, so the others were in the backyard having dinner. Harry went upstairs to change shirts after a pitcher of pumpkin juice had splashed onto him. George saw the opportunity and followed.
George never was the type to beat around the bush, so as soon as Harry turned to face him, George closed the door behind him and spoke:
"What happened to her, Harry?"
Harry immediately paled. His breathing shallowed. He swallowed hard.
But he answered.
"It was Bellatrix, George." He began in a hoarse whisper. "At Malfoy Manor. She just ripped Hermione away from us... Ron tried to make Bellatrix take him, but she didn't. And then they threw Ron and I into the cellar and all we could hear was this awful, terrible screaming. It was the Cruciatus Curse... So. Many. Times."
George was pale. Harry was shaking, his voice rising with ever passing second.
"And then Bellatrix had a knife. She had this bloody knifethat she used to carve Hermione's arm! And I'll give you three guesses what word she branded onto Hermione's arm! I'll give you three bloody guesses!"
Harry was shouting now. George felt sick.
"I know, Harry. I saw her arm. Her sleeve came up. It's... horrible." George said softly.
"And then we got out of the cellar, and we ended up in the drawing room." Harry barreled on, yelling. "And I'll NEVER forget how I felt staring at Bellatrix as she pressed a knife to Hermione's neck. She almost died, George! And she'll never completely recover from that curse! The scar will always be there AND IT'S MY FUALT!"
Harry punched the wall, leaving a boxy hole in the drywall. His knuckled bled. Tears trickled down his cheeks.
George didn't know what to say.
"It's not, Harry. And besides... without you... we'd all be dead, mate."
"She shouldn't have to go through that. She is so sad these days. She's just not cheerful or Hermione-ish anymore. I miss her. Ron misses her."
"I do too. But, hey, I bet between you and Ron, she'll be better in no time. You guys overcame so much together. You can overcome this too."
Harry roughly wiped his tears.
Ron told Arthur, Bill, Charlie, and Percy.
They stood in the shed. Ron wasn't even sure how they had ended up there, and he didn't really care. He just wanted to get it over with.
"Hermione... She was tortured." Ron said gruffly. Cleared his throat.
"Bellatrix... She had a knife." Cleared his throat. Willed the lump is his throat to leave.
"The Cruci..." His voice caught in his throat, and he couldn't bring himself to go on.
Ron took a deep, shaky breath. His eyes stung.
"Son..." Arthur began, dropping a hand on Ron's shoulder. "How many times?"
"At least eight. That's what Luna said." Ron breathed, there was a pair of tears trickling down his cheeks. He glanced at his brothers. Charlie and Percy both looked shocked, angry even. Bill looked sympathetic.
"I just... I couldn't save her." Ron finally choked out.
"But you did, Ron. She's here with us." Percy said, trying to encourage.
"Oh, God. No." Ron scoffed as more tears fell. "You didn't see her when we got to shell cottage. Bill did." Ron sunk into a chair, head in his hands. "I mean, yeah we saved her. But I didn't really save her. She'll always have those memories, the aftereffects of that bloody curse! She can't forget the pain, and I sure as hell won't ever forget how it felt to almost lose her! And that girl that wakes up screaming and shaking, that's not Hermione! That's not how she should be living! Hermione is strong and brave and wonderful and that-that-that bitchtook those things from her! She's afraid and scared and she hates it. And I hate Bellatrix for doing this to her!" Ron finally finished, openly crying now.
Arthur put his hand on his son's shoulder again, taking a deep breath. "She'll be back, Ron. The Hermione we all know will be back in time. She's in there. And if anyone can find her and pull her out again, we all know it'll be you."
Ron loved his dad more than ever in that moment. He felt hope and courage and love.
He looked around to his brothers. He knew that all of them could help bring her back. Hermione needed to feel hope and courage and love. And if there was a family anywhere who could show her those things, it was his family.
"You're right, dad. We'll find her again."