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The Darkness and The Light Part 19
A/N: I just want to dedicate this chapter to all of my wonderful readers and my friends at the Weasley Writers forum. You’re the best! WARNING: Cliffhanger at the end of this chapter. I know I have done that pretty much throughout this story, so if you don’t want to be left hanging, you may want to wait until chapter 20. “WHAT?” Ron bellowed when his dad had come into his bedroom to break the news. “Dad, that isn’t fair! How can it be? Malfoy is the one that beat her and raped her! He should stand trial!” Mr. Weasley sat down on the end of Ron’s bed and hung his head before taking in a rugged and deep breath and exhaling. “I know, Ron, but your actions cannot go unpunished either.” Ron shook his head in disbelief. “You agree with this?” He nodded to the parchment that was now lying in the center of his bed. Mr. Weasley was silent and refused to meet his son’s eyes. “I do, yes.” Disgusted, Ron frowned at his father’s back. “Thanks a lot, Dad,” he smirked. Mr. Weasley let out a frustrated groan and rubbed at his temples. “I don’t know what you expect from me, Ron. Did you really think that you could walk away free from this?” Ron began talking without choosing his words first. “Yes…no…,” he let out a heavy sigh and then continued truthfully. “No, I didn’t. At the time, I wasn’t thinking at all. I was just so mad over what he had done to Hermione, Dad. He had to pay for what he did.” “You should have thought before you acted, Ron.” Ron now leaned forward and put a hand on his father’s shoulder, motioning for him to face him. He took in a deep breath of his own, let it out with a heavy sigh and continued on slowly. “Dad, Hermione was a virgin when all of this began. Her first time was not what it should have been. She’ll always look back on her first time and remember that she was raped.” He paused. “It shouldn’t be that way.” Mr. Weasley’s face registered an amount of shock and he nodded somberly. “No, it shouldn’t.” “What if it had happened to Ginny, Dad? What if she had lost her virginity like that and I was the only one to save her? Wouldn’t you expect me to react the same way? Wouldn’t you want me to defend her virtue?” Ron had expected his dad to nod at this, but he didn’t. He merely said, “But it wasn’t Ginny and Hermione is not my daughter.” He looked at his father in amazement, unable to register the meaning in his words. Ron shook his head hoping that he had not heard what he thought he had. “You don’t care about Hermione?” He ventured, hoping that he was wrong. He had to be because he just couldn’t believe his own words. “It isn’t that I don’t care about her, I do. It’s just that I think you went the wrong way in defending her. What if you are suspended of your powers and expelled from school? Have you given any thought to that?” “No,” Ron told his father honestly. “If that’s the case, I don’t care. I love Hermione, Dad. She’s worth everything to me.” Mr. Weasley got to his feet with an exasperated sigh. “I certainly hope so.” He went for the door and before opening it to leave, he turned and said, “Why don’t you owl Harry and Hermione to tell them what’s going on? I’d bet they’re worried sick about you,” he smiled and his glasses slid down his nose a bit, “it’s been a whole day.” “Oh, didn’t Mum tell you?” Ron asked glumly and his father shook his head. “I’m not allowed to communicate with them.” “WHAT? That’s just silly. I’ll talk to her, Ron. Write to them and tell them what’s going on.” “Ok. Thanks, Dad.” He waved a dismissive hand and opened the door. Before he could head out into the hallway, Ron spoke again. “Dad?” “Hmm?” “I’m sorry about earlier. I just lost my temper.” “Think nothing of it, Ron. It’s all part of being a Weasley.”
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Narcissa helped Draco into his own bed in his own bedroom. After keeping him for a fourth week after he woke up, the Healers at St. Mungos had finally seen fit to let him come home. It was so much more than a relief to have him back at the manor where he belonged. “Would you like to be left alone for a nap, Draco?” Narcissa asked as she fluffed up some pillows under his head and tucked his sheets a little tighter around him, “Mum, I was asleep for 3 weeks. It’s the last thing I want to do.” “The Healers said that you needed your rest. I’m just following their orders, Draco. Is there anything that I can get you? Maybe some pumpkin juice?” Draco shook his head slightly and smiled at his mother. “I’m fine, Mum. I promise.” “Ok, if you’re sure. Just lie there and relax. I’m going to go give the house elves the order for tonight’s feast. We’re going to celebrate your return home.” He nodded and when she turned to go, he sat up and gently grabbed her wrist. She stopped and turned to look at him with concern on her face. “Yes?” “Mum, when can I return to school? I’d like to see my friends in Slytherin.” She stared blankly at him, at a loss for words. Something in those eyes that stared back at her told her that he didn’t know about the charges that were being brought against the boy that had done this to him. “As soon as you feel well enough to go,” she said, hoping to pacify him. It didn’t. “Then I could go tomorrow. I feel fine, Mum.” “Draco, no,” she said firmly and turned to walk away again. Again, he grabbed her and she avoided his eyes because she knew that her own would give away the fact that she was hiding something from him. However, her action spoke louder than her resistance to look at her son. “What are you not telling me?” He asked. “What do you mean?” She asked sheepishly, still looking at the floor. “Mum, please. What is it?” She finally gave up and sat down beside Draco on his bed, crossing her leg in front of her. She held his gaze, but spoke uneasily. “Draco, your father has spoken to Cornelius Fudge and that Weasley boy has been summoned to stand trial for what he’s done to you.” “What?” Draco asked. He didn’t know how to react; he knew that he felt nothing at this news. “The hearing will be in two weeks and until all of this is over, we, that is, your father and I, don’t think it wise for you to return to school.” “Why not?” “No doubt once this has all gotten out; it will attract a certain amount of attention, Draco. We’re looking out for your best interest. You’ll be home schooled by a private tutor until all of this blows over. Your lessons begin next week.” Draco had opened his mouth but quickly shut it, her tone had been firm and made him feel as though he had no choice in the matter. “Can I at least owl my friends?” His mother nodded. “You may. I’ll bring you your quill and parchment when I come to check on you after speaking to the house elves.” “Give me my wand, I’ll summon them,” Draco told her as he held out his hand. Narcissa looked at her sons open palm and then at him with a worried expression on her face. She didn’t want to tell him that there was more news concerning the hearing. She ignored him as best she could and headed for the door once again. “Mother, don’t do this to me!” Draco demanded. “Just tell me what is you’re hiding!” With her back still to him, she stopped when she was standing in the middle of the room, between the door to his room and his bed. “When your father spoke to Mr. Fudge at the ministry to press charges against Arthur Weasley’s son, he requested that you be suspended of your wand and your powers.” Draco angrily threw back his covers and got to his feet. “WHAT?” He roared. “Draco, there was nothing your father could do! He tried to keep this from happening, but under the circumstances, he just couldn’t.” Draco hated that she was avoiding his eyes like she was. He now stood in front of her and held her head in his hands, making her look him in the eyes. “But, Mother, I don’t understand. He has a lot of influence at The Ministry.” Narcissa rested her hands over her sons and replied in a glum voice, “Not this time, Draco. I’m sorry.”
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When Mr. Weasley had shown the summons to his wife, she felt so many emotions at once that she had to sit down. She didn’t want to believe that any of this was true. How could Ron be so dumb as to get himself into this kind of trouble? For the first time upon hearing this news, she looked down at the parchment that her husband had laid on the table in front of her that contained Ron’s hearing date. Upon closer inspection, she saw something closer to the bottom of the page. She took the sheet in her hand and held it up to her face so she could read it more clearly. She read it out loud:
Also, please be aware that your son has been suspended of his powers until further notice. We at The Ministry entrust you to confiscate his wand.
“Arthur, did you see this?” She asked. Mr. Weasley had been standing over at the fireplace taste testing a soup that his wife had cooking over the open flame. When he heard this, he choked on the portion that he had just swallowed and dropped his spoon, which landed with a soft clatter onto the floor. Now, he ambled over to sit by her, unable to believe what she had just said. “No, I didn’t. Are you sure that’s what it says?” She nodded and slammed the paper down onto the table. “As sure as I’m sitting here. He needs to know,” she turned around in her chair and faced the stairway that was behind her and yelled, “Ron! Ron, come down here this instant!” Momentarily, they heard Ron’s footfalls on coming down the staircase. He stopped and stood on the bottommost step and asked: “What is it?” Both parents gave him a remorseful look and his mother patted the empty place on her opposite side, motioning for him to sit beside her. “We have some bad news, dear. Come, sit down.”
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A few days had passed since they had told him that he wouldn’t have use of his powers. For the first two, he had moped around The Burrow feeling numb and in a state of shock. What good was he without magic? He was no better than a Muggle. How was he going to face his friends? He now sat outside at a nearby picnic table just few feet from his mother’s garden, watching the gnomes walk off with some daffodils that had begun to grow in her carrot patch. He was slightly bewildered that they were being helpful and not greedy as they usually were. Ron looked down at the parchment and quill in front of him and gave a heavy hearted sigh with a frown on his face. This was the first letter that he would be writing to Hermione since having been taken out of school. He reluctantly took the quill in his and touched it to the paper, ready to write. Then something dawned on him: You can’t tell her that you lost your powers, you git! What will she think of you? Another voice came into his head, sounding more reasonable and less insecure. Wait a second before you go crazy, Ron. This IS Hermione we’re talking about. Let’s remember that she loves you for you. She’ll understand. He liked the sound of this and smiled to himself as he wrote the opening of his letter. Dear Hermione, He stopped once more, thinking of something to say, and was once more interrupted by his conscience. This happened because you were defending her. Don’t forget that. If you tell her that you can’t use magic, she’ll blame herself. You know she will… Giving into this thought, he aggravatedly crumpled up the piece of paper and threw it onto the ground. Once more, he touched his quill to the parchment and wrote: Harry, Dad smoothed it over with Mum and it’s okay for me to write to you and Hermione now. The Malfoy’s are pressing charges against me for what happened to Draco. I have to appear in court at The Ministry in two weeks. I need you to do me a favor and not tell Hermione what I’m about to tell you. I’m not allowed to use magic or carry my wand until I’ve heard something more from The Ministry. She would blame herself if she found out and I don’t want that. She has had to go through so much without this adding to it. Thanks, mate, I appreciate it. Ron With a heavy sigh, he started to get up from the table to go looking for Pig but sat back down when the little owl swooped down in front of him and landed on the tabletop. Ron sat up enough to get a piece of string from his pocket so as to secure Harry’s letter to the owl’s leg. One he had done so, Pig just stared expectantly back at him. “I don’t have anything for you. Go to the owlery once you get to school.” Almost as if he had been understood, Pig gave a defiant “hoot!” and shook his head. “If you’re not hungry, then what?” He asked in confusion. Pig looked around and spotted the paper Ron had thrown earlier. He raised up his wings, got enough air under them to swoop over to it and pick it up in his beak only to bring it back to Ron and drop it down on the table. Ron shook his head with a frown on his face. “No, not yet,” he said to the little creature, knowing that he was expected to have a letter for Hermione as well. Pig didn’t budge; he merely stood and stared back at Ron with the same expectant attitude. The longer he stood there, the more agitated Ron became. “Look, I said no, ok? I can’t face her now! What do you want from me? If she finds out that I lost my magic, she’ll feel bad and I don’t want her to feel bad after what he did to her! I don’t want her to blame herself and that is exactly what will happen! She’s just going to have to wait for a letter from me, that’s all! Why are you hanging around here anyway? You have a letter to deliver!” He nodded to Pig’s leg. “Find Harry!” Ron leaned forward, rested his face in one hand and angrily knocked Pig off the table with the other. Ron half expected him to fall right to the ground, (as Pig was sometimes not the brightest owl there was), but much to his surprise, he did not. Not knowing what to do with himself at the moment, he sat and watched Pig fly away until he was nothing more than a tiny speck in the sky.
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Harry sat up on the edge of his bed and scratched his messy raven hair trying to wake up. Without thinking about it, he turned his head and looked at Ron’s empty bed and sleepily wondered how things were going for him at The Burrow. Then, almost as if on cue, a little grey blur came zooming in Harry’s direction and before he could comprehend what was going on, he was hit squarely in the chest by it. He heard a feathery thud! and felt something in his lap. Harry looked down to see a slightly dazed Pig staring up at him. He shook his head at the little owl, scooped him up and placed him on his fluffy pillow before untying the letter from his leg. “Rest up here and once you feel better, go to the owlery. I’m sure there’s something to eat there if you’re hungry. Speaking of which, I am. I’m going to go get dressed.” He held up the letter. “Thanks for this.” A few moments later, he was dressed for the day, making sure to take Ron’s letter with him; he headed down to The Great Hall for breakfast. Once he had settled in at Gryffindor table and was chewing on a piece of toast, he took out Ron’s letter and began reading it. He hadn’t gotten very far when he heard a familiar voice say “Good morning, Harry!” He glanced over his shoulder to see Hermione coming towards him and once she got directly behind him, she stopped, looking down at the parchment in his hands. “What do you have there?” She asked, nodding to it. She was now sitting down beside him, her curious eyes never leaving the contents of his hands. When Harry realized that she was studying it close, he folded it over, hoping that she wouldn’t see her name. “It’s nothing,” he said quickly. She narrowed her eyes in suspicion at him. “It’s something. Harry, I saw my name. Is it a letter from Ron?” When he didn’t answer her, she continued on. “It is, isn’t it? Harry, what’s the big deal?” “Ok, fine,” he said as he went back to his breakfast. “It’s from Ron.” “How is he?” She asked excitedly as she tried to get the letter from him once more, being successful this time. Harry choked on his orange juice as he moved to try and get it from her. He had gotten to the part where Ron was asking him to keep a secret but got no further than that. Somehow, Hermione had managed to hold Harry off by merely putting one hand on his chest and looking down at the letter in her other hand. Harry watched her eyes move down the paper, reading every word closely. After a moment, she took her hand away from his chest and shoved the letter at him, color in her cheeks. “Hermione, what’s wrong?” She didn’t reply. She got up from the table and stormed out of The Great Hall, her hair flying behind her. After he watched her turn the corner and disappear from sight, he looked down at the letter and now saw what Hermione was so upset about. A terrible feeling settled into his stomach as he got to his feet. “Hermione, wait!” Harry yelled as he took one last drink of orange juice and ran after her.
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After about 45 minutes of searching all over Gryffindor, Harry finally found Hermione sitting by Hogwarts Lake with her head bowed, holding her hands over her face. He stood a few feet away from her for a few minutes just watching her and giving her a few more moments alone. Finally, he walked up to her and sat down next to her, putting his arm around her shoulders. He could feel her little body shake with each sob that came from her. He didn’t really know what to say, so he just hugged her as tightly as he could and decided to let her cry it out. Leaning into his chest, she said, “How could he think that about me, Harry? How could he think that I wouldn’t understand?” “I don’t think that’s what he thinks at all. Hermione, he is only looking out for you. He doesn’t want you to feel any worse than you already do.” She gained a modicum of composure and pulled away from him. “What would you know about how I feel, Harry?” “What does that mean?” Hermione took a tissue from her robes and wiped her nose with it. “Nothing, really. I’m just frustrated that Ron would think that about me, I suppose. I mean, what is WRONG with him?” “You can’t fault him, Hermione. He thought he was doing the right thing. He loves you.” She frowned as she got to her feet. “He has a funny way of showing it.” She began to walk away from him and soon found that he had jogged up to her side, almost out of breath, “Where are you going?” “I’m going to go write him a letter,” she replied simply. “Hermione, no! Don’t! He’ll know that you read my letter!” Harry pleaded as he grabbed her shoulder and stopped her in her tracks when he did the same. “Don’t be silly, Harry,” Hermione assured him. “I won’t mention that I know about his powers being taken away. I’ll just tell him that you said it was okay for him to talk to us.” “Please, just wait for him to write to you, ok? I don’t want him to be suspicious and that’s what will happen once he hears from you.” Hermione let out a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Fine. You win,” she took notice of the expression on Harry’s face; one of total content. “I suppose you’re happy with yourself, are you?” Harry just smiled back at her. “Let’s go to Hagrid’s,” he suggested as he let go of her arm and began walking towards the hut.
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Ron didn’t know how long he had been sitting at the picnic table looking up into the sky, but when his father came and sat down across from him, he came out of his trancelike state only to notice that the sun was beginning to set on the horizon. Mr. Weasley sat a plate of mashed potatoes and ham sandwiches in front of his son, accompanied by a tall glass of pumpkin juice. Ron didn’t realize how thirsty he was until he took a drink. “Thanks, Dad.” “You’re welcome. There’s some tomato soup to be had in the kitchen if you’d like some of that later.” Ron merely nodded to show that he had heard him and took in a healthy spoonful of potatoes. Mr. Weasley watched Ron as though he were expecting him to say something and he had noticed this just moments before he finally swallowed his potatoes and asked slowly: “Dad, I have a question,” he began. “What is it, Ron?” “I’ve been thinking about everything that’s going on and I don’t understand something,” he took a long drink of juice so as to give himself time to get his thoughts in order. “I’m going to trial for hexing Malfoy, but has anyone thought about what he did to Hermione? He-“ Mr. Weasley held up a hand and Ron stopped in mid sentence. “You’ve already said what he did, Ron.” “And that was exactly how you reacted the last time!” He pointed out as he gestured to his father’s hand which now fell to the table top. “What is it?” “Ron,” Mr. Weasley said with a frown, “I know it isn’t fair that you go to trial while Malfoy doesn’t. It isn’t fair that Hermione will not get to see justice for what has happened to her…” Ron’s mouth dropped open and he glared wide eyed at his father, unable to believe what he had heard. He had to pinch his arm to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming. “Please tell me you’re kidding, Dad.” Ron said with anger in his voice. Mr. Weasley shook his head and his frown deepened. “Dad, that isn’t fair!” “I know.” “There must be something that can be done!” “No,” said Mr. Weasley sadly. Ron got to his feet and slammed his hand on the table. “Why the bloody hell not?” “Ron, don’t swear,” Mr. Weasley said with a heavy sigh. “It has to do with the fact that her parents are Muggles. If Malfoy stood trial here, then it is likely that Hermione would bring her parents to the wizarding world for support. If Hermione told them what happened to her, then they would press charges against Malfoy and he would have to stand trial in the Muggle world. Besides that, the laws are different and that would cause the two worlds to collide. It’s a chance that can’t be taken.” “But Malfoy has to pay for what he did! He can’t just walk free because of some technicality!” Mr. Weasley nodded somberly. “I know, Ron.” “You work at The Ministry, Dad. Isn’t there someone you know that could change that? She lost her virginity when she was raped! He can’t go free!” “Ron, calm down…” “How can I? This is Hermione we’re talking about!” He walked away and slammed his foot against a nearby stone with every intention of rolling it away. To Ron’s dismay, it stayed stationary and he was now concentrating on the pain in his foot rather than his anger at The Ministry. He let out a squeal and fell to the ground clutching his foot in his lap. After a few moments, Mr. Weasley asked with a smile, “You didn’t hurt the rock, did you?” Ron looked up at his dad and smiled. “Very funny.” “Do you feel better?” “No,” Ron said glumly as he managed to stand up and amble back over to the table. “It wasn’t worth it, then was it?” Ron shrugged. “I guess not.” After a few moments more, Mr. Weasley spotted the crumpled up paper that Ron had set aside. “Finally wrote to Harry and Hermione, did you?” Ron frowned. “To Harry, anyway. I can’t face Hermione now. I don’t want her to know that I can’t use magic. I’m afraid that if she finds out, she’ll blame herself and I don’t want that.” He shook his head. “She doesn’t need it.” “It’s nice of you to protect Hermione like that, Ron, but I think you should let her decide what she can and can’t handle right now. You should tell her what’s going on.” “What if she thinks less of me once I tell her?” Ron asked uneasily. This thought made the hair on his neck stand up. He couldn’t handle it. “She won’t, son. I promise you that. She’ll understand,” He removed Ron’s now empty plate and glass and replaced it with the stack of parchment and the quill. “Write to her,” Mr. Weasley gently urged his son before taking the dishes inside.
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It was almost dark by the time Harry and Hermione had departed from Hagrid’s and once they had made it to the Gryffindor common room, Hermione had excused herself by saying that she was going to go upstairs and read for a while. Harry had nodded to her casually and decided to do the same in his dormitory. He now looked up from his book on famous Quiddich teams throughout the wizarding world and looked at his watch. Time had managed to slip away from him and if he didn’t get downstairs to The Great Hall soon, he was going to miss dinner. He closed his book, left it lying on the bed and dashed downstairs, looking for Hermione in the process. When he didn’t see her in the common room, he gave up and decided to search her out once he got to The Great Hall. Upon sitting down to a plate of steamed carrots, roast beef and fried potatoes, he let his eyes roam over the room now held maybe one hundred students whereas around dinner time, it held well over one thousand. Still no sign of Hermione. He quickly ate his dinner, gulped down the butterbeer that was in front of him and set off for the library. After about half an hour, he finally saw her sitting alone in the back near the Restricted section, reading a book and wiping tears from her eyes. He slowly walked up to her and took a seat that was directly across from her. “Hi,” he said softly, not being one to break the rules and use his normal speaking voice. He knew how Madam Pince hated that. “I’ve been looking for you.” “Well, you found me,” Hermione snapped in the same soft tone that Harry was using. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “What do you want, Harry?” She sniffled. “What’s wrong, Hermione?” “Nothing,” she said quickly and slammed the book in front of her so fiercely that Harry jumped in his seat a little. She intentionally kept her arm lying on top of the cover so as to shield the title from Harry, who was aware of this from the beginning. “What are you reading?” He asked, secretly trying to see the words engraved on the book under her arm. “Oh,” she said with a fake smile, “I was missing Ron and I decided to read a bloody romance novel. I can’t believe the damned thing made me cry.” She gave a laugh as false as her smile. Harry didn’t believe her for a moment, but he wasn’t going to make her aware of that just yet. If this made her feel better about what was really bothering her, then fine. He would gladly play along. She looked at him and this time she noticed that he was trying to see the title of the book that she was reading. Hermione frowned at his nosiness and made to push the book off the table into her lap but did this a little too rough and caused it to land in the floor instead. She quickly bent down to retrieve it, but Harry was quicker than she was and he reached it first. Picking it up and making a point to keep it away from Hermione who was trying to take it from him, he saw the silver lettering that was on the cover of the black book:
The Laws and Limitations of Two Worlds: Wizard and Muggle
Harry smirked. “Hermione, why are you reading this?” Once the question had left his mouth, he suddenly felt like he knew why. “You wouldn’t understand,” she said as she choked back more tears. “Try me,” he countered. Hermione knew that if she didn’t come out with what was bothering her, Harry would probably push her until she did. Conceding defeat, she leaned forward and motioned for Harry to do the same, just to make the conversation a bit more private. “I thought I was okay after what happened to me, Harry. I don’t know how I did it, but I was really feeling like I had put all of this rubbish behind me. Then, about a week ago, I was alone with Ron and…” she stopped and noticed the eager look on Harry’s face, wanting her to continue. She inhaled deeply, let it out slowly and said in an unsure tone, “Are you sure you want me to go on?” “Hermione, whatever it is, you can tell me,” he said as he reached over and placed a friendly hand on hers. Trying to choose her words, she went on. “Ok, don’t say that you weren’t warned, though. I was alone with Ron and he got a little carried away when we were kissing, he touched my chest…” “Ugh!” Harry leaned back and covered his ears with a disgusted look on his face. “I don’t want to hear about you and Ron snogging OR his roaming hands!” Hermione got to her feet and leaned over to jerk Harry’s hands from his ears. “Oh, grow up, Harry!” She exclaimed impatiently, flopping back down in her chair and leaning over the table once more. “I warned you,” she grabbed Harry’s tie and pulled him to her, so that he was leaning over the table once more with her. She cleared her throat and continued. “I saw Malfoy’s face when I kissed Ron and eversince then I’ve been having these weird visions…I can’t get away from them and I think it’s because now I know Ron will be going to trial and I have this sinking feeling that Malfoy will not.” Harry frowned and nodded glumly. He didn’t want to admit it, but she was probably right and when he realized this, he realized that was why Hermione had been crying. Whatever was in that book she was reading must have had to do with why she said this. He looked at the book once more. “Why are you reading this?” He asked again. “I want something done to Malfoy, Harry,” she said bitterly. “I was reading this book to see what the laws were surrounding something like this and it says here that I don’t stand a chance because if I were to try and fight Draco, it would cause a collision with the Muggle and Wizarding worlds.” She bowed her head and the tears came again. “That isn’t fair, Hermione,” Harry said truthfully as he took her hand in his and placed his other one on top of hers. “I know.” “I refuse to believe that there can’t be anything done! You deserve jutsice and peace of mind after what he did to you!” Harry now grabbed the book, which he had laid to one side, and began to flip towards the back to the index, hoping to find something that would help Hermione. A loophole of some kind, anything. After watching him act crazed for a minute because he apparently wasn’t finding what he was looking for, Hermione stopped him. “Harry, don’t,” she told him. He stared back at her for a moment and saw something in her eyes that he didn’t like. Defeat. She was going to let him win. Trying to suppress the anger he felt, he put the book down once more. Hermione got to her feet and began to gather her things together. Harry stood with her. “He can’t win, Hermione,” he said flatly, shaking his head. “He just can’t.” She gave a heavy sigh and threw her bag over her shoulder. “But, he is. I’m just going to have to get over it and get used to the fact that the wizarding world really does not give a damn about Muggle-borns.” She took one last saddened look at Harry and walked past him, after a moment, he caught up with her. “Are you going to be ok?” He asked with concern in his voice as they reached the top of the landing leading away from the library. Hermione stopped in her tracks and dropped her bag at her feet. She ran her hands through her long bushy hair and then waved them in frustration as she spoke: “I could kick myself, Harry! It would have been better if I hadn’t gotten involved with Malfoy in the first place and we wouldn’t be here.” Harry saw where this was going. She was doing exactly what Ron had predicted she would. “Hermione, no,” he said lowly. “But, it’s true, Harry! If I could have just confronted Ron, taken the chance that he cared about me, it never would have happened.” She stormed past him and now sat on the top step. “Don’t do this,” he told her as he turned took a seat beside her. “It will work itself out. You don’t need to blame yourself for anything. I know Ron and I know how he feels about you. It’s like he said in his letter, you don’t need to blame yourself. He would hex Malfoy a thousand times if he thought it would keep you safe from him. All you need to do now is be strong for Ron. He needs both of us now.” Hermione nodded. Harry was right.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
A week and a half had passed before Harry heard from Ron again. Harry himself had tried several times to write to Ron but it seemed that everytime he sat down to begin a letter, he would find himself too distracted with worries about his red haired friend to write to him. That and the fact that Hermione sometimes worried him as well. After their talk in the stair well that day, he had been under the impression that she was feeling a little better. When she wasn’t paying attention, he would watch her while they studied in the Gryffindor common room and he increasingly noticed that she was distracted as well because she would look up from whatever she was doing at the moment and stare off into nowhere. Ron was due to stand trial in three days, he could only imagine what he must be feeling as the day grew nearer. On this particular evening, Harry and Hermione found themselves trying to concentrate on a game of Wizard’s Chess when all of a sudden, Pig swooped in from nowhere, skidding across the board in an attempt to stop, sending chess pieces everywhere. Harry watched with dull amusement as each piece stood up one by one, brushed themselves off and stormed away while giving the little owl scornful looks. Hermione got up from her chair, collected Pig in her hands and sat him up on the table as she untied the scroll of parchment that was around his leg. She unrolled it to see her name written on the outside in Ron’s handwriting. She looked up at Harry, then at the letter, reading silently. Dear Mione, Dad worked it out with Mum and I can write to you and Harry now. I’ve been allowed to for a week and a half now, to tell you the truth. Please don’t be mad at me for not writing to you sooner. I have been thinking about you a lot lately and I need to tell you something. My wand and my powers have been suspended by The Ministry until further notice due to all of this mess with Malfoy. I don’t want you to blame yourself, it isn’t your fault. I love you and would do it all over again if I had to. Tell Harry hi for me. Mum and Dad said that if you and Harry can get passes from Dumbledore, you can come here to The Burrow and stay until after the trial. I wish that you would. I need the both of you here. Let me know something. Love, Ron. “Well?” Harry asked once it was apparent that she had finished reading. “What does it say?” “He finally told me about losing his wand and his magic, so that’s good. He says to tell you hi and he said that we’re invited to The Burrow so we can go to court with him.” Harry nodded. “Great.” Hermione nodded. “We’ll need to get passes from Dumbledore.” “Well, come on, then. Let’s go.” With that, they took off for Dumbledore’s office.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
When they showed up at the Headmaster’s office, Harry would have thought that he would be a little annoyed that they had come by so late. But it was just the opposite, when he opened the door; Dumbledore smiled and gave his usual warm greeting, welcoming them inside. “Hello, Harry. Hello, Hermione,” he said as he crossed over to his desk and sat down. “You’re here to get passes to The Burrow, I believe.” It didn’t matter how long Harry had known the Headmaster, he never ceased to amaze him. Harry opened his mouth to ask how he knew this and quickly shut it when he saw Errol, the Weasley family owl, perched on a feeder that Dumbledore kept in his office, eating seeds. “Quite a tragedy that has befallen The Weasley family, isn’t it?” He asked them, but his eyes shifted to Hermione who only nodded somberly at him. He waved his wand over a couple of small scrolls that lay dormant on his desk for a moment and then sprang to life when he muttered an incantation that sent them to Harry’s outstretched hand. “These are your passes. You need to show them to Mr. Fudge when you get to The Ministry.” Harry nodded. “Thank you, sir.” Harry gently grabbed Hermione by the sleeve and pulled her with him when he turned to go. They were almost to the door when Dumbledore’s voice came from behind them. “Miss Granger, if I may have a moment of your time.” “I’ll be right outside when you’re finished, ok?” Harry told her before he left the room and closed the door behind him. Hermione turned around to see the Headmaster motioning to the big green leather chair that sat in front of his desk, wanting her to sit down. With a small bit of reluctance, she did so. This was when he leaned back in his own chair, crossing his fingers under his chin and behind his long white beard. “What seems to be troubling you, Miss Granger?” His icy blue eyes twinkled with concern as he peered over his moon shaped spectacles. “Headmaster, you must know by now exactly what it is that Ron is standing trial for and why,” she began slowly, meeting his eyes. “Yes.” She related to him about reading the book in the library and how she felt that it was unfair that not only it looked as though Malfoy would be walking free, but he wouldn’t even be receiving a trial. Dumbledore nodded to show that he understood. “How can that be right, Headmaster?” Hermione questioned. Dumbledore never said another word. He just sat and studied Hermione closely as though heavily pondering something. The longer this went on, the more uneasy Hermione became. She stood up and politely excused herself from him but not before thanking him for the passes and asking him to keep her and Harry up to date on their lessons. She walked out the door and found Harry standing in the hallway, waiting patiently. He noticed the uncomfortable look on Hermione’s face and asked, “What’s wrong? What did he say?” Hermione gave the door that lead into the office a bewildered look and turned to Harry. “Nothing. Nothing at all, really,” she began walking. “Strange man, Dumbledore,” she observed. Not wanting to press the matter of why exactly it was Hermione thought this, he decided to leave it at a that and said: “C’mon. Let’s go pack. According to these passes, Mr. Weasley will be in Gryffindor Tower after breakfast to Floo us back to The Burrow.” As they began walking, Harry talked to Hermione about how he had been wondering about Ron and how he felt certain that Malfoy would be punished somehow. She walked alongside him, barely hearing a word for all she could think about was how strange that conversation with Dumbledore had been. Why didn’t he answer me? Why did he just tone me out like that? A/N: Yes, I know it’s weird. But it’ll make you wonder until next time…Go on, say it. I’m evil…*sly grin* Don’t hate me.

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