Losses beyond imagining

Chapter 36

“That wasn’t too bad, now was it?” Hermione said, after Harry and Ginny had left. She never thought she’d say it, but she did: “Thank Merlin for Quidditch…”

Draco snorted with laughter. “Bet that’s a first…”

Hermione glared at him. “I’ll never be a fan, but it did save us from too much awkwardness….”

“It’s about the only thing I can talk about with Potter without getting into a fight…” he agreed.

“I thought we’d be discussing the case too, but Harry seemed reluctant to talk about it, didn’t he?” And so did you, she thought, briefly wondering why.

“It’s probably his pride…” Draco sneered. “They’d given him the slip. Potter wouldn’t have liked that…”

“And he hit his head…” Hermione defended Harry. “He was unconscious for a while too… Perhaps it scared him…”

Hermione wondered how Harry felt. He’d been working with Ron, and now of course with Elphaba. She knew he missed Ron immensely and they’d been a good team, the two of them. Of course, the three of them had been even better. Now that it was all over, Hermione fondly remembered their days of searching and destroying Horcruxes.

Could it be possible that Harry was afraid? Harry, their Harry? It seemed so unlikely: he’d conquered Voldemort after all. Yet things had changed…. She and Ron were no longer there, to help and guide him… And Ron had died at their hands…

“I don’t want to talk about Potter…” Draco grumbled. “I’ve just spent the entire evening with the man… I’d say that was enough for one night…”

Hermione nodded. Slowly, she said to herself, don’t push it… Friendships can’t be forced; they need to grow naturally, they can only be encouraged.

“You have been on your best behaviour,” she agreed. “And it worked out pretty well..”

“Thanks to Quidditch,” Draco said, a glint in his eyes. He pulled her into his arms.

“Thanks to Quidditch,” she mumbled reluctantly, just before their lips met.

Harry was afraid. The case was beginning to overwhelm him. He still felt guilty over Ron’s death and had carried bezoars with him ever since. The spell that had killed him had turned his blood into poison in an instant, but a bezoar could have possibly saved him… If only Harry had carried one with him…

It was no good going over it again and again in his head. At the time, he had been outnumbered, and he didn’t even knew what spell had hit Ron. He didn’t know he could use an antidote, nor had he carried one on his person. Harry had never learnt these spells because they were ancient and outlawed. Still…

He felt responsible. Harry wondered if he was in over his head. His pride couldn’t face that… yet it might be the simple truth. He had been knocked unconscious. Fortunately, Elphaba had not been present, or she could have been hurt too. It was precisely his responsibilities as the senior Auror that made him feel so anxious now. Harry couldn’t bear the thought of Elphaba being hurt, not with what she’d already gone through….

He decided to swallow his pride and ask for more Aurors on the case. The threat level of this case should be raised…

At first, Elphaba took the news badly.

“Are you saying you don’t trust me as your back-up?” she said indignantly. “I’ve had the same training as you, you know…”

“It’s not about you..” Harry replied, a little curt. “It’s about them… It’s about me… I’m uncomfortable with you being in harm’s way…”

“Because of Ron?” she guessed.

“Yeah,” Harry replied. “I don’t know why that’s happened now… I didn’t have it before…”

“They could have gotten you…” she said gingerly, “two against one… And I was on the other side of the village…”

“About that… We shouldn’t split up anymore either… We’ll go in teams of four now, so we can always break up in two’s if needed. No more heroics for any of us…” Harry said bitterly.

“You’re right. Safety first…” It was very unlike Harry, but a part of Elphaba was relieved. He had been a little reckless at times, and knowing that it wasn’t because he didn’t trust her helped in accepting the changes. If anything, it was good. Perhaps more manpower would help bring the case along….

“We can’t kill that Potter…” Jemina Jennings said to her sons, when they brought her the news of their narrow escape. “It’s good that you haven’t…”

“He won’t stop trailing us, mother…” Julian, the oldest said. He was the oldest, but merely by a few minutes.

“Yes,” his twin brother, Justus, agreed, “Chosen One or not, he’ll continue to hunt us. We’ve made a mistake in killing that Weasley fellow…”

“Had we known who he was, we wouldn’t have…” Jemina agreed. “I assumed he was merely another pure-blood…”

Pure-bloods were quite dispensable, the sons had learnt that long ago. They were responsible for killing their mother’s family and were generally obsessed with history, bloodlines and producing heirs, rather than building a prosperous future for all, Muggle and Wizard alike. Jemina had taught them to despise the whole lot of them….

“He’ll never get off our backs…”

Julian wondered if his mother had too great an opinion of Harry Potter. His brother and he could have killed him, if it hadn’t been for their mother’s strong objection. He wasn’t too impressed with him. Sure they had been on the same side during the war, but now it seemed as if he was becoming their enemy. Potter would want justice for his friend and fellow Auror….

They understood this longing only too well themselves…

“I’d always hoped to have the famous Potter on our side…” their mother lamented. “He would surely support Muggle-Wizzard relations….”

“Not anymore… At least, he won’t support our family… And he’s becoming friends with those Malfoys, apparently…. Borrowing their books…” Justus argued.

“How do you all this?” his mother asked, bothered by this news. Perhaps Harry wasn’t such an example after all?

“T’ was in the papers, wasn’t it? Aurors confiscating Malfoy’s library… trying to find information to use against us…” he hissed at her. “He won’t be your mascot… not anymore, not now…”

Jemina sighed deeply. Her plans had been thwarted, that was for sure. To have accidently killed one of the only pure-blood families who shared their ideals, and had been scorned by the others as blood-traitors, had been a huge blowback. And, now, they had also lost their perfect hiding place…

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