Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Disclaimer 2: Oh, and the line "Some things will never die" was stolen from the song "Some Things Are Meant To Be" from the musical Little Women. And some portions of this fic were inspired by other fanfictions. For example, Molly's flashback was inspired by the story "Moving Ginny" by WeasleyMom. (And there are several fics/works of art involving the Trio Chocolate Frog Cards, though that isn't an idea limited exclusively to one author/artist.)
Ever since she returned from the horcrux hunt with Ron and Harry, Hermione has been afraid of knives.
I didn't know that until, a few weeks after the fact, I asked her if she would help me in the kitchen for a little while. She smiled and rose from the couch and followed me into the other room, where I had half a dozen knives chopping vegetables with magic.
She saw them, blanched, and collapsed into one of the chairs at the kitchen table, shaking slightly.
"Hermione, dear, are you all right?" I asked worriedly.
"Yes," she replied shakily, shutting her eyes tightly. I saw her gripping the sides of the chair, her knuckles turning white.
"Don't try to lie to me, dear." Giving her a consoling smile even though her eyes were closed, I pulled up a chair next to her and sat down. "Do you want to talk?"
"The knives," she managed. "P-please stop the knives."
"The knives?" I asked, ceasing their motion with a wave of my wand. "Is that what's bothering you?"
"I don't like knives."
I stared at her. She had never been bothered by my charmed cutlery before; the summer before she had even managed the whole kitchen by herself while I was off cleaning the house. So I could only assume one thing. "Did something happen while you were off with Ron and Harry?"
Slowly she opened her eyes. "Yes." The terse responses were unlike her.
"Is there something you want to talk about?" I repeated, setting my wand down on the table and folding my hands in my lap.
Taking a deep breath, she nodded. "Remember about two months ago, when Bill took you all to Muriel's?"
Remember? How could I forget?
"Mum! Dad!" Bill's voice was more urgent than I had ever heard it before. "You have to go. Get everyone together and go to Muriel's. Hurry. They know Ron's not sick."
Arthur leaped to his feet and ran up the stairs. Knowing that he was going to alert the rest of my family, I stayed to talk to my oldest son. "But how—"
"They're at Shell Cottage," he replied, Nonverbally casting spells to protect us as we prepared for the journey. "Harry and Ron and Hermione."
"They're fine." He shook his head and amended his statement. "At least, Ron and Harry are. Hermione..."
"Something happened!" I cried, putting my hands on my hips. "William Arthur Weasley, you tell me right now—"
"They won't tell me exactly what happened, Mum," he replied quietly. "But it looks to me like she's been tortured."
"With the Cruciatus Curse?" He nodded hesitantly. "Bill, is she going to be all right?"
There was a hopeless ring to his voice as he replied, "I don't know, Mum."
"I'm going back with you; I know a few spells that might help; I'll at least be able to help Fleur—"
"No, Mum. You have to go. You all have to stick together. Fleur and I will manage."
"Ron—how is he taking it?"
Bill shook his head again. "Pretty hard, I'm afraid."
At that moment, the rest of the family came into the room. I pressed a finger to my lips, warning Bill to keep silent, lest he worry the others. Quickly, quietly, carefully, we departed for Aunt Muriel's house.
"I remember," I replied, snapping out of my reverie. I had hardly felt a greater sense of relief than when I came into the Room of Requirement and saw Hermione standing, thin but strong and sane, between Ron and Harry, ready to fight for the freedom of the wizarding world.
"Do you know anything about what happened that night? To me and Ron and Harry?"
I froze, then nodded slowly. "Bill told me a few things."
"Then you know about...about Bellatrix Lestrange?" Her voice broke.
"Bellatrix Lestrange?" Fighting to keep from going off on a tirade about that horrible woman, I shook my head. "I hadn't heard anything about her..."
"Some snatchers found us," Hermione went on softly. "Greyback, and a few others." She folded her arms on the table and buried her head in them. "They recognized me and Harry. Brought us to...to Malfoy Manor...and Bellatrix...the Cruciatus Curse..." She broke down, sobbing heartbrokenly.
I put a gentle arm around her. "There, there, dear. It's all right. That's all over now."
She took a couple of deep breaths, gasping for air as though she couldn't get enough. "H-have you ever b-been subjected to that p-particular curse?" she stammered, fighting to control herself.
"Once." I shuddered at the memory of Mulciber pointing his wand at me, tormenting me with the terrible pain caused by that awful spell. "Only once, thank goodness."
Hermione finally managed to stop crying and look up at me, her eyes red. "So only one time, then?" she croaked.
"Yes." A sudden realization crossed my mind. "Hermione," I began warily, "how many times did she curse you? Two? Three?"
She shut her eyes and bit her lip, steeling herself to reply.
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to..."
"Nine." She said it so quietly that I almost didn't hear her.
"Nine?" I breathed. "Oh, Hermione..."
Suddenly she was sobbing again. I gave her the most motherly, comforting hug I could, letting her cry for as long as she needed.
"And," she muttered between her sobs, "she t-threatened me w-with a k-knife."
"It's all right," I replied, still hugging her. "It's okay, Hermione."
"S-sometimes I still d-dream about it," she admitted.
"And sometimes talking about things like that puts a stop to the dreams."
She sniffed. "So I've heard."
"Here." I conjured a handkercheif and handed it to her.
"Sorry about that," she said quietly, wiping her eyes.
"Don't even bother apologizing, Hermione." I gave her a smile and patted her on the shoulder.
Years later, I got up the courage to talk to her about the incident at Malfoy Manor once more.
"You know about the Longbottoms," I began cautiously. "Neville's parents?"
She nodded slowly. "They're still in St. Mungo's," she replied. "Bellatrix...drove them insane."
"Do you know how many curses it took for each of them to wind up there?"
"I have to admit...after what happened to me, I've always wondered...what they must have gone through..." Her hand shook slightly as she charmed the knife to chop the lettuce for the salad.
I smiled faintly. Ever since our conversation, she had made an effort not to be nervous around the simple kitchen charm that allowed knives to chop food seemingly by themselves.
"Each of them," I continued, easing into the subject, "withstood six. The seventh, for each, was their undoing."
She froze, her eyes wide. "S-seven?" she stammered.
"Then..." Her voice trailed off, and her wand arm fell to her side. "How did I...how on earth..." She rubbed her head. "How did I get out of there?" she whispered.
"That, I think, is the mystery," I replied, giving her another motherly hug.
Two years later I found her sitting at the kitchen table, staring down at something—or, more accurately, three somethings—in her hand.
"What are those?" I asked, pulling up a chair.
She looked up, startled. "Oh. Just some Chocolate Frog cards."
"And since when do you collect Chocolate Frog cards?" Smiling, I held out my hand. "I haven't had a Chocolate Frog in years. Who are they putting on the cards these days?"
Wordlessly she held the cards out to me. I took them and froze as I saw the pictures on them.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione stared back at me. Harry was the most serious-looking out of the three; his eyes were slightly downcast and he had no hint of a smile on his face. Ron, on the other hand, wore his characteristic grin, and had a glint in his eyes that seemed to say, Hey, Bill, Charlie, Percy, George! None of you ever got on one of these before! And Hermione, like Harry, had her eyes averted, but she was smiling shyly, as though the attention embarrassed her.
The wording on her card caught my attention.
"Hermione Granger Weasley, 1979—. Best known for being one of the seven individuals to destroy You-Know-Who's Horcruxes. Also the only known individual to have withstood more than seven administrations of the Cruciatus Curse."
"Some things will never die," she murmured.
I looked up at her sympathetically.
"I'm working on a cure, you know," she continued, staring into space. "In my spare time. I think I've almost done it."
"If anyone can do it, it's you," I replied, giving her my warmest smile. "Come on," I said, standing up and handing the cards back to her. "Let's get dinner ready."
She returned my smile and, raising her wand, charmed the knives to start chopping the vegetables. I noticed that her hand didn't so much as tremble.
Some things will never die, it is true. But some of those things will heal.