As always, that which you recognize from the books belongs to JK Rowling.
The members of the Wizengamot gradually filed into the Memory Chamber located on Level Nine of the Ministry of Magic. Their seats overlooked the floor of the mammoth room like the balconies of a theater. High stone walls carved with thousands of intricate runes surrounded a stone floor that sloped gently into the center. The chamber was, in essence, a giant penseive.
Hermione and Albus sat at a small table near the entrance, studying a silvery memory in a small glass vial. She had been carefully refining it since extracting it from her temple with her wand. Albus was generally aware of its contents, and he was surprised by how much she had struggled to recall it. The experience was painful to watch, and her words of warning once again echoed through his thoughts. He carefully checked to see that his wand was still inside his pocket.
The doors opened and Greyback entered, surrounded by a trio of Hit Wizards. Again, Albus noticed that his aunt avoided looking in the man’s direction. Greyback paused, locking eyes with Albus.
“You’re Harry Potter’s boy, aren’t you?”
Albus nodded uneasily. “Do you know my father?”
Greyback chuckled, looking almost wistful. “We know each other alright. If he saw you standing this close to me, he’d probably have a stroke.” Greyback turned to follow the Hit Wizards toward the defendant’s table. Without looking back, he growled, “Let him know I said hi.”
Whether she was satisfied with the memory or simply out of time, Hermione set the vial on the table in front of them. “Listen to me, Albus,” she whispered, wrapping her fingers gently around his elbow. “I can’t completely predict what’s going to happen when he sees this. Keep an eye on him and stay close to me. And if anything goes wrong, get out of here as fast as you can and don’t stop running until you get to your dad’s office. Understand?”
Albus nodded dumbly, unnerved by his aunt’s deathly serious expression but confused as to what could possibly go wrong. Greyback might be a werewolf, but the full moon was three weeks away. He was wandless, surrounded by three Hit Wizards and they were deep in the bowels of the Ministry. Only a fool would try to escape under those circumstances.
Word of Hermione’s bold challenge to Greyback’s petition had apparently gotten around. Albus noted that there were at least three times as many members of the Wizengamot seated in the gallery above them as there had been in the courtroom on Level Ten. Their probing stares left him feeling more than a little uncertain about what she was doing. His aunt had been a champion of equal rights for werewolves since before he was born. Now they were all debating the fate of a werewolf who had been locked away in Azkaban on the day the war ended, and she was fighting tooth and nail to keep him there. Albus found it hard to wrap his head around, even though something about Fenrir Greyback chilled him to the bone.
“This court is once again in session.” The amplified voice of the wizard in plum-colored robes boomed throughout the cavernous, stone room. He rapped the gavel firmly from his spot the lectern at the front of the gallery. “Mrs. Weasley has challenged the petitioner’s assertion that he no longer poses a danger to society, and claims to have memory evidence supporting her contention. The Wizengamot will now see this evidence.”
Hermione stood and walked to the center of the room. She emptied to contents of the vial into the center of the floor, then waved her wand. The air in the room began to swirl, distorting to shapes and colors of its walls. Albus felt slightly queasy as his brain reacted to the blur of motion surrounding him. Suddenly the images coalesced into an equally cavernous room, dimly lit by a few scattered torches burning along the walls. It took Albus several seconds to recognize the Great Hall of Hogwarts, and based on the muffled gasps arising from the gallery above, he wasn’t the only one who had never imagined it in such a state.
The house tables were either swept aside or blasted to bits. Huge chunks of stone were missing from the walls and most of the windows were shattered. The great house banners hung in shreds, and several large holes allowed the actual stars to shine alongside their enchanted counterparts on the ceiling overhead. The dust and smoke that hung in the air muffled the already sparse light of the remaining torches. But the physical devastation was quickly lost as Albus’s reeling brain began to process the horrifying sight that awaited as he walked slowly, numbly toward his aunt’s side.
Bodies. Everywhere he looked, the prone forms of the dead and injured filled the spaces between the piles of rubble. Some of the dead had been covered with sheets or discarded cloaks. Others, mostly the Death Eaters, merely lay where they had fallen. The terror of their final moments was etched on the faces that looked up at Albus from the dusty, blood-stained flagstones. It made his blood run cold. When Greyback spoke, he nearly jumped out of his skin.
“It isn’t going to work, Granger,” the werewolf declared softly. “I’ve made my peace with the past.” Albus turned to study the man, and it was apparent that he found the room unsettling in his own way. Something seemed to be stirring inside him, just below the placid surface of his composure. What it was, Albus couldn’t say, but he drew closer to Hermione, torn between the need to protect her and the urge to hide behind her legs as he did when he was a small child.
“Here they come,” his aunt said softly to nobody in particular. Albus could hear a cacophony of shouts, cracks and pops from outside the shattered doors. Suddenly a surge of witches and wizards erupted into the hall. First came the defenders, backing up as they cast shield charms to repel the hail of curses that followed them. On their heels came the Death Eaters, fighting a battle on two fronts as the centaurs and villagers from Hogsmeade pursued them from behind. He instinctively drew his wand and moved to shield her from the advancing melee.
“Don’t worry about them, they can’t hurt you,” she whispered into his ear. He turned to see that her wand was drawn as well, but her focus was squarely and exclusively on Greyback. “The real danger is over there.”
The werewolf’s dark eyes were flitting around nervously as the combat drew nearer. His clawed fingers clenched and unclenched reflexively, and it seemed to Albus that he had shrunk slightly as his posture gradually gave way to more of a crouch. The Hit Wizards surrounding him seemed oblivious to the changes as they watched the battle play out around them. Albus stepped aside as a young man he recognized as his Uncle Bill passed by, dueling fiercely against a tall, grim-looking wizard with a pointed beard. New cries of pain and suffering started to punctuate the loud cracks of spells caroming off of the battered stone walls.
The entire building shook as a giant stumbled into the outside of the castle walls. Dust and smoke once again filled the air. Friend and foe alike began to fall, struck down by the relentless barrage of curses that seemed to come from every direction. A chorus of small cries erupted from the back of the hall as even the kitchen elves joined in the fight, striking at the ankles of the Death Eaters with their cutlery. Albus tore his eyes away from the battle and found his aunt still staring intently at Greyback, who was now surveying the room greedily. His eyes were filled with bloodlust and his shoulders heaved as his breathing quickened. It struck Albus as nearly impossible that this was the quiet, resolute man he recalled from the Wizengamot courtroom.
“Not long now,” Hermione whispered urgently. “Stay close to me!”
Near the entrance of the hall, Albus spotted a tall, pallid figure that could only be Lord Voldemort. He was dueling Minister Shacklebolt, Professor McGonagall and a short, balding old wizard in green pajamas simultaneously. The tales that his family shared about the notorious dark wizard did little justice to his terrifying presence. He effortlessly engaged three formidable opponents while directing the attack of his forces. No spell seemed able to touch him, and everyone in the hall gave him a wide berth.
Albus forced his gaze away from the Dark Lord and stole a look around. The members of the Wizengamot were transfixed, their eyes darting to and fro as the curses flew. The Hit Wizards also stared intently at the drama playing out across the room. Only his aunt and Greyback weren’t paying attention. Greyback’s dark eyes were intently focused on a young woman who was leaning against a pile of crumbled stone for support. Blood seeped through a makeshift bandage covering her neck and shoulder and her right arm hung uselessly by her side. She appeared to barely have the strength to sit up, but like everyone else in the cavernous room, she was focused on the legendary confrontation.
A deafening shriek erupted from the far end of the hall, followed by what sounded like a cannon blast. Albus spun around just in time to see Shacklebolt and McGonagall flailing in the air as they were blown backward by the Dark Lord’s explosive rage. Near the wall, Nanna Weasley stood triumphant, having just struck down a terrifying woman with wild, black hair. Voldemort leveled his wand at her and unleashed a curse that struck a shield spell seemingly cast from nowhere. As the entire hall gasped in collective wonder, he heard his aunt cry out in alarm.
Albus turned away from his father’s moment of triumph just in time to see Greyback slam his forearm into the side of one Hit Wizard’s head while his powerful legs caught a second squarely in the midsection. A look of primal aggression filled the werewolf’s dark eyes as his movements became fluid and instinctive, almost too fast for the eye to follow. The two men fell limply to the flagstones and Greyback fixed the third Hit Wizard with a bloodthirsty leer. Albus barely had time to draw his wand before the man landed on his back, bleeding from a gaping wound in the side of his neck. Greyback spun to face them and Albus could see the bright red stains on his hands and chin whiskers.
Hermione flung a curse at the werewolf but Greyback was faster, leaping out of the way just before the jet of red light cracked against the stone wall. He landed in a crouch and Albus saw his face for a fraction of a second before he launched himself toward Hermione. The veneer of humanity was gone, and what he found underneath was raw, animalistic rage. The commotion was enough to draw the attention of several members of the Wizengamot who were pointing and shouting in alarm. Greyback ignored them and began to advance on Albus and Hermione. He used all four of his powerful limbs to leap from side to side, following an uneven, zig-zagging path. It made him a nearly impossible target.
“Run!” His aunt shouted the order while sweeping her wand arm toward him. Albus suddenly felt himself being thrown backward, away from the charging werewolf. As he landed on his backside and scrambled to his feet, the memory swirled and faded away, exposing the large double doors leading to the hallway on Level Nine. For a brief moment, he wondered what had happened to the various people he had seen dueling in his aunt’s memory, especially the young woman with the severely wounded shoulder. The way out was directly in front of him and his aunt’s instructions were still ringing in his ears, but leaving her to face the danger alone was out of the question. He turned and tried to aim his wand, but Greyback was simply too quick. The one curse he managed to get off caromed harmlessly off of the stone floor.
As Hermione backed away, Greyback switched directions again, trying to circumvent the tip of her wand. This time she anticipated his maneuver and struck him with a knockback jinx. He tumbled backward through the air, but managed to twist his body around and land on his feet next to the defendant’s docket. Grabbing a chair in each hand, he hurled them toward her. Hermione managed to turn the first aside with another spell, but the second struck her in the back, knocking her to the ground. Greyback let out a victorious growl and launched himself toward her prone form.
“Protego Maxima!” Al cast the most powerful shield he could manage between his aunt and Greyback. The werewolf landed on all fours in front of the shield and made what seemed like an impossibly sharp turn. Albus cast a pair of stunning spells at Greyback, who dodged them easily. He was able to fall backward just enough to soften the blow to his chest from Greyback’s fist. It kept his ribs from breaking, but the air was knocked out of his lungs and his wand slipped from his limp grasp as his back slammed into the stone floor.
Greyback was on top of him instantly, baring a mouthful of sharpened teeth. Albus could smell his foul breath as he struggled feebly to cover his throat. The next instant, the werewolf’s body seemed to be bathed in an angry red glow and he tumbled forward over Albus’s head. Another jet of red light seared the air and Albus heard Greyback groan sharply. He managed to raise his head just enough to see his aunt advancing toward him with her wand pointed over top of his body and her eyes blazing with barely contained fury. A third blast erupted from her wand and he heard Greyback’s body slam against the stone floor like a sack of potatoes.
Albus slowly, painfully rolled over onto his hands and knees as Hermione stalked around him. Greyback was also trying to pull himself off of the floor. He managed to lift his chin just enough to meet her stare. The low growl in his throat was all the provocation she needed. “STUPEFY!” The spell was delivered with furious intensity and the werewolf’s muscular body bounced several times across the floor before finally coming to rest.
With a flick of her wrist she rolled Greyback onto his back. Thick magical ropes erupted from the end of her wand, surrounding him. A sharp, muffled gasp of pain escaped his lips as his limbs were bound tightly to his body. Hermione came to a stop next to where he lay, pointing her wand at his face, daring him to move again.
“This isn’t over,” Greyback mumbled between shallow, gasping breaths.
She stared down at him with furious contempt, her voice barely more than a hiss. “Rot in hell, you monster.”
The doors to the Memory Chamber burst open and three Aurors ran into the room with their wands out. Hermione merely nodded at Greyback’s body before spinning on her heel. “Get this out of my sight,” she ordered without even looking back.
As Albus dragged himself to his feet, he watched in awe as his aunt stormed over to stand in front of the wizard in plum-colored robes. The man’s face was white as a sheet and he seemed to be gripping the lectern for support. “If there’s no further doubt among the honorable members as to the fitness of Mr. Greyback to re-enter society, the Benevolent Order of Wizarding War Veterans rests its case.” She paused for just a moment, surveying the ashen faces staring back at her from the gallery before turning and walking out of the Memory Chamber with her head held high.
Greyback’s fearsome likeness graced the front page of the evening edition of the Daily Prophet as he was dragged from the Ministry of Magic on his way back to Azkaban. Hermione breezed through the accompanying article, paying little attention to the customarily shoddy write-up of the day’s events. She was sitting in a coffee shop in Lancaster, sipping a cup of herbal tea and watching the old, wrought-iron gates of a graveyard across the street. What she was looking for she couldn’t quite say.
By and by, a stocky male form in a long coat appeared on the other side of the gates. The man took a careful look around and began to stroll up the stone path. Hermione left a few muggle notes on her table and hurried across the street, clutching and old textbook under her arm. She let herself in and walked along the path the mysterious man had taken.
Just over a small hill, she came to the spot where she knew to wait. Fresh lilacs lay on the ground in front of a dignified marble headstone next to an elm tree. As the cool breeze blew through her hair, Hermione tightened her traveling cloak and waited. She knew that he would be cautious, even though she had taken all the necessary measures to make sure they were alone. Nobody knew where she was, not even Ron.
“So it’s done, then?”
Hermione didn’t turn around. She knew he was there without looking.
“Yes, it’s done. He can’t even be considered for parole for another five years. We’ll be ready next time.”
He took a step forward, draping his arm over her shoulders. “Ya did good, Hermione. No doubt she was smilin’ down on ya.”
Hermione wrapped her arm around his waist, enjoying the quiet familiarity of an old and dear friend. But the moment passed, and only the question remained.
“Seamus, how long are you-”
“Shhh,” he cut her off, squeezing her shoulders a little tighter. “Let’s just enjoy the moment a while longer, lass. She wouldn’t want us to bicker.”
“I’m not bickering,” she replied quietly, keeping the bossiness out of her voice as best she could. “Why do you keep living like this? Scraping by, working in seedy muggle pubs. She wouldn’t have wanted this for you.”
“No more than I wanted her to die,” he answered grimly. Hermione listened as took a deep, tormented breath, calming himself. “Neither of us ended up with what the other wanted.”
“Please, just talk to Harry. He’ll sort things out for you and you can come back to where you belong.”
Seamus snorted in response. “Yeah, talk to Harry. Fat lot o’ good he’s done to help.”
“That isn’t fair, Seamus,” she replied quietly. “You tried to break into Azkaban and murder someone. He and Ron were still Junior Aurors then. They had to call in a lot of favors to keep the investigation quiet so the Ministry didn’t launch an all-out manhunt for you.”
“They shoulda used those favors to get inside where they coulda finished the bastard off,” he grumbled, letting his arm slide off of her shoulder.
Hermione sighed, then turned to face her former housemate. “Seamus, we fought the war to win back our freedom and make the world safe again, not so that we could go around settling scores and doling out vigilante justice.”
“And how is the world any safer with a monster like that still breathin’?” he retorted. “My war wasn’t quite as high-minded as yours, Hermione. I fought to keep people I loved from dyin’.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “An’ I failed somethin’ miserable.”
She watched him for a moment as he stared at the flowers adorning the grave in front of them. Then she reached out and took his hand. “She knew the risks, just like everybody else. She was strong and brave and she died fighting for something that she believed in.”
“She was gentle as a lamb,” Seamus mused softly, “but when the Carrows pushed her, they woke a lion. Twasn’t fair. She never shoulda been forced to change like that.”
They stood for several minutes, letting the silence speak for them.
“Why did you send me this, Seamus? Why did you raise the alarm?”
He didn’t quite meet her stare when he answered. “The woulda let him go otherwise.”
“And you would have hunted him down and killed him,” she replied, squeezing his hand a little tighter. “Instead, you made sure he went back to prison. Why?”
Seamus stubbed the toe of his boot against the grass for a moment. “You’re not the only one who thinks about what she woulda wanted.” He lifted his eyes, meeting her gaze. “I’m tryin’, Hermione. Honest. Someday, I’ll be ready to take Harry up on his offer. But it’s hard. And I’m not there yet.”
Hermione could feel the pain and uncertainty in his voice, but also a glimmer of hope. “Whenever you’re ready, we’ll do whatever it takes to make things right with the Ministry.”
His face broke into a sad smile. Hermione handed him the old textbook and allowed him to pull her into a warm embrace. “Thank you, lass,” he whispered into her ear.
“Take good care of yourself, Seamus. We all miss you.”
“I miss you too, lass. I’ll get better, I promise.”
They said their goodbyes quietly and each made their own way out of the graveyard. At the foot of the marble tombstone, the lilac petals fluttered gently in the cool night breeze.
Lavender Brown 2 January 1980 2 May 1998
A couple of notes on this chapter. The title is, of course, borrowed from Little Red Riding Hood. The fact that Lavender didn't survive the war is quasi-canon. JKR said in an interview that she died from her injuries after being attacked by Greyback. The relationship between Lavender and Seamus is something that I've seen in a few really amazing fan fics, so it stuck in my head.
Thank you so much for reading! If you would be so kind as to leave a review, I would be grateful!