Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Chapter Eight: Spawn

He was doing the dishes when the doorbell rang. It startled him so badly that the plate he was holding fell from his fingers and shattered onto the floor. Sharp white flecks of porcelain littered the tiles, making it impossible for him to move his bare feet. As Frank rushed out of the room, assuring him that all was well, he tried to calm himself with quick gasping breaths. Over the past week, they'd discovered he didn't react well to surprises. So once he had gained control of his breathing, he knelt and began the tedious chore of collecting the small shards of china.

Finishing his task, he stood and found himself faced with the sight of Frank and a familiar looking stranger. The young man accompanying his host looked like the boy in Frank's dusty photo albums. The teen, with the broken dish, felt a strong urge to hide when he noticed the young man's size. Frank's guest had his same build—broad shoulders with powerful looking arms and chest—but with added height and without the withering of old age. He looked to be in his early twenties and towered over the scrawny boy, glaring down at him with distaste. Tightly cropped sandy hair, capped the gentlemen's crown and he sported a slightly darker goatee. His eyes were small, shrewd, and grey; they harbored no warmth, at least not for him. A short bulbous nose occupied the strangers face, accompanied by a disproportionately small pinched mouth.

"This is my grandson, Talhaern Vice," Frank said cheerily. He didn't seem to notice the way his new visitor was scowling at his guest. "He's come to visit me for a few days; isn't that exciting? I'm sure you both will become the best of friends. I was just telling him about you…"

As Frank rambled on in his usual speedy pace, a standoff ensued. The grandson looked as if he smelled something utterly disgusting as he glowered menacingly at his grandfather's other guest. Resisting the urge to cower, his opponent wondered why he found the revulsion in Talhaern's face so familiar. He could only imagine that in his former life before he'd met Frank, he'd had many enemies. It would make sense too, considering the condition he awoke in over a week ago. Someone must have absolutely despised him to cause so much damage; at least that's what he had assumed from Frank's furious expression at some of the scars they'd found scattered over his body…and he hadn't even shown the man the full extent of his injuries. Not that he'd had much of a chance anyway; his injuries had all healed surprisingly quickly and after a few days all but the most severe injuries had disappeared. Most satisfying to him was that he could now plop down without the fear of a stabbing pain in his arse.

It was this last thought that caused—for some unknown reason—the end of the young men's staring contest. He was forced to avert his eyes, instincts beyond his control forcing him to flinch from the harsh gaze.

Interrupting the old man carelessly, Talhaern directed his irritated question to the room. "Who is this? I thought father told you not to bring strangers into your apartment anymore. Don't you remember the last time, when that scum stole all of Nan Aileen's jewelry?" He spat the word 'scum' with such distaste, that Talhaern's meaning was quite clear: he was filth.

At this Frank's tanned face turned a pasty shade of gray; it was the first time he'd ever seen the man look anything other than cheery and the contrast was rather alarming. The usually rosy-cheeked old timer now looked to be on Death's door, his eyes dull and empty. He knew—from his host's vast array of photographs—that Aileen had been Frank's wife before she'd died a number of years ago, but he'd never seen his host look so distraught from the mere mentioning of her name. Usually, the elderly old man would ramble on and on about his past Love, telling all sorts of stories about shared picnics, travels, and grandchildren. However, these recollections had always been expressed with fond smiles and gaiety. Suddenly, he was filled with a deep loathing for Talhaern's callous reminder of what the widower had lost. This man had no right to upset his host so spectacularly.

But before he could either console his host or reprimand the intimidating grandson, Frank had recovered. Spluttering indignantly and developing a furious blush, he retorted angrily. "Of course, I remember! Don't patronize me, young man! This Laddie, here, wouldn't hurt a fly and besides, he needed my help. You should have seen him, Talhaern, so many bruises and scrapes, that at first I didn't know what he was."

"Be that as it may, he looks fine now and you don't know whether or not he'll run off with anymore of Nan's trinkets," Talhaern said, sounding patient, but the look in his face told otherwise. Then, turning to the wide eyed observer, he asked, "What's your name anyway, boy?"

There was a brief moment before he answered, when the boy still holding the shattered dishware was struck with a rush of memories. An angry man—the one from his dreams—was yelling at him, while a boy the size of whale laughed uproariously. The familiar beefy man was turning purple as he hollered at the cowering youth and finally, seeming to lose his patience, grabbed the teen and began dragging him roughly towards a small doghouse. As he was thrown forcefully to the ground, he could hear the man yelling his final words: "You're worthless, boy!"

Snapping back to the present, he stared wide eyed up at Talhaern. The man was glaring down at him expectantly and he remembered that the intimidating man was awaiting his response.

"S-sir, I don't r-remember my name. I don't remember anything."


Headquarters was swarming with bodies. It seemed as if every remaining member of the Light side had made this place their temporary home. No one felt safe alone anymore. Not since the Battle of Hogwarts. They all probably thought that if the Death Eaters could penetrate the school then nowhere was safe.

Hermione supposed they were right, too. She could understand the uncontrollable need to not be alone. In fact she and the twins had been inseparable ever since Hogwarts had burned to the ground. It had been only a week ago that they'd all stood huddled on the grounds of the ancient castle as it burned to ashes. She could feel the insufferable heat of the Fiendfire on her skin when she thought about that night. The screams of her friends mixed with those of her enemies as they were all burned alive. Ron's lifeless face and dull eyes stared up at her in her dreams. Albus Dumbledore's figure falling—as if in slow motion—from the Astronomy Tower as she watched helplessly. The thump as his dead body striking the ground. Her dreams were filled with the shrieks of the dead and whenever she was alone she would imagine blood dripping off the walls, seeping through the floor, and oozing from the ceilings.

That was why she was currently curled up on one of the many musty arm chairs scattered about the second floor drawing room. She'd been occupying the same chair for the past week. Moving simply hadn't seemed like a priority ever since they had all returned from the battle. Nothing was important now. Not since Ron died. Not since Dumbledore had fallen from the tower. Not since that bastard Snape had gotten away. And especially not since Hagrid had returned from Harry's relatives house empty handed. It felt to Hermione as if nothing would ever be right again.

In all the hustle and bustle after the battle, with all the wounded, dead, and missing Order members, that everyone had forgotten about their Savior. At least until she had finally exploded at them yesterday. Professor McGonagall had been trying to persuade her to move from her position on the lounger, when she'd finally lost her temper.

"SHUT UP, YOU BITCH! BLOODY HELL! CAN'T YOU SEE I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE? Gods Professor, why don't you go do something useful? Like…like…LIKE PERHAPS CHECKING ON HARRY?! NO ONE'S EVEN BOTHERED TO SEE IF HE'S OK! I HAVENT HEARD FROM HIM ALL SUMMER. FOR ALL YOU KNOW THE DEATH EATERS COULD HAVE KIDNAPPED HIM IN ALL THE CONFUSION AFTER THE BATTLE!" Hermione yelled at the shocked woman. She'd never before lost her temper at a teacher, but the bushy haired girl had finally reached her limit. Grief was a natural reaction to death, and she was sick and tired of her time of mourning being interrupted. In a sickly sweet voice she'd added, "Wouldn't it be ironic… the Order, the very organization sworn to protect him… losing the Boy Who Lived."

She hadn't seen McGonagall's reaction but she suspected that the old Scottish woman's lips had thinned and her wrinkly fists had tightened. But when she'd glanced over, all she'd seen was a slamming door as her former professor had stormed out of the room. Smirking, Hermione had simply returned her gaze to the charmed window fixing her eyes on the fake sunset. If she had known that her grief induced rant had been so close to the truth, the brunette would not have been so pleased with herself.

As it happened, an hour later she'd heard raised voices coming from the basement kitchen and within minutes a pounding of footsteps up the stairs before what seemed to be the entire Order poured into her temporary sanctuary she'd fashioned out of the little dusty parlor room. It was then that she'd learned that Harry hadn't been at his home in Surrey. When his family had been questioned they'd claimed he'd run away just over a week ago. The news had chilled Hermione to the bone. She'd been right. Those blasted Death Eaters had kidnapped her best friend. Harry was probably dead right now; just like Ron. She was alone.

It had been exactly eighteen hours, nine minutes and forty three seconds since she'd heard the news. Her eyes were still fixed on the spot where Hagrid had stood when he'd told her that her other friend was gone. Somehow her mind still couldn't rap around the fact that she'd never see Harry again. They'd tried to comfort her with delusions. They'd said he might still be alive. But she knew deep down that her old friend was gone. She knew Harry hadn't run away. He would have come to Headquarters or possibly the Burrow. He wouldn't have put her through this torture if he'd been alive. He wouldn't have run away, which meant that the Death Eaters had come for him. And Hermione knew what that meant. It meant they'd taken him to Voldemort.

She felt her eyes start to prick. But she refused to cry. Consoling herself with thoughts of Harry being reunited with his parents, the remaining third of the Golden Trio tried to imagine life without ever talking to her green eyed friend again. First Ron, now Harry. When would the carnage end?

But at that moment Hermione was violently yanked out of her sea of pity by the door to the parlor being blasted open. Jerking up, she watched dazedly as Fred and George marched into the room. Neither of them looked to be in spirits. In fact they were both glaring at her with twin expressions of distaste. As they approached her chair, she watched their lanky limbs and matching tufts of ginger hair move angrily towards her. She couldn't imagine why they were there.

"For fucks sake, Hermione! Stop—"

"—this ridiculous pity party! Get it—"

"—together! You're not the only one who's lost someone."

The Twins glared down at her with disgust…and most shockingly disappointment.

She was so surprised at their expressions of censure that she almost didn't notice when she burst into tears.

"B-but I-I loved th-them!" H-how c-can I j-just—" she gestured wildly with her arms, her words stuttered and nearly incoherent through the sobbing.

"That doesn't mean you get to sit up here and wallow in self-pity. Everyone else loved them too."

"Yeah, Hermione. We loved them too. He was our brother…"

"And Harry was our friend."

And with that the twins slumped down next her on the sofa, one on either side. For the next two hours they kept her company while they mourned for the ones they had lost.

A/N: Talhaern means iron fist and vice is defined as immoral conduct or a flaw in someone's behavior/character. Sometimes I'm a genius.


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