Kissed by Death

Searching for Answers


"Hermione, come to bed."

"Just a few more minutes, Ron," I said mechanically, absorbed in my reading.

He sat down and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. "You've been at it for hours."

I blinked, recognizing just how tired my eyes were. Ever since I had visited Gregory Nelson, I had been constantly searching for other cases such as his. I had visited libraries all throughout Europe and even a few across the Atlantic, hoping to find at least one other, someone who could give me more answers.

Nothing.

So I turned to studying dementors themselves. There is very little known about what happens to souls after they have been taken from their body; we know that they're still alive, or at least that they still exist, because otherwise their bodies would stop functioning, but are they active in some way? From what Mr. Nelson had been able to recall, they were, in fact, active. They became a concrete part of the dementor.

Somehow, I felt this couldn't be the answer. How could they permanently be a part of the dementor if Mr. Nelson found his way out? Perhaps they conformed to the identity of the dementor, but they couldn't become the dementor. If they did, where did the first dementor come from? Did it appear from someone's lost and tortured soul? Or was the dementor something else entirely, only a container for the souls, a being who could live quite contently without a soul to support it?

For three days I had been gathering books and histories of dementor activity, hoping to have some insight on the inner workings of a dementor. After studying them for the past four hours, I realized that these books were highly inconclusive, not giving me any of the information that I wanted. In reality, they were records of dementor attacks, how they came to be guardians of Azkaban, a history of many well-known victims and why they were attacked, and other such unimportant details. There was nothing about how dementors worked; it was as if no one had ever asked the question before.

I sighed and slowly shut the book I was reading. "I don't understand, Ron…"

"What is it?"

"No one has ever tried to research this?"

He smiled half-heartedly. "Not everyone has a mind like yours, Herm."

"Well, you'd think that someone, during the entire history of magic, would have wondered what happened to people after they were Kissed."

"I can't think of any way to research it without being Kissed yourself," Ron retorted, shrugging his shoulders. "I doubt anyone was dedicated enough to try that."

"It's as if no one has even thought about it before."

Ron took my hand in his and caressed it gingerly. "Maybe all of the people who did think about it ended up in Ginny's situation."

I was silent for a moment as I thought about what he had said. It was surprisingly logical. If you were researching dementors as no one had before, it would stand to reason that you would need to study an actual dementor, not just sit in your room and think.

He leaned in and kissed my forehead lovingly, interrupting my thoughts.

"Don't be one of those people, all right?"

I smirked. "Don't worry, I'll wait until the baby's born to go after dementors."

"Not funny," he said sternly, pulling me out of my chair.

"Well I'm not exactly happy with you running off after them," I responded.

Ron sighed, placing his arm around my waist as we walked to our bedroom. "Can we forget about all of this for the moment? Are you packed for tomorrow?"

"Oh, I completely forgot!" I said, frustrated with myself. "Are you sure we should still go? Harry might need us--"

"It's our first anniversary," Ron said, stopping in front of the door to our room.

"But we don't have to go to Rome," I replied.

"I already paid for everything, Hermione!" he responded, obviously getting agitated. "Do you know how much harder I've worked saving up for this? I knew you had always wanted to visit, and I was excited to see a little more of the muggle world--"

I cut him off with a short kiss.

"I really appreciate all of that, Ron," I whispered.

He exhaled heavily and entered the room alone. I stayed in the doorway.

"She's my best friend," I said.

"And she's my sister," he retorted as he climbed into bed. "She wouldn't want all of out energy to be focused on her. She would want us to live our own lives."

"Have you tried to explain that to Harry?" I asked, now entering the room and sitting on the bed.

Ron sighed as he pulled me closer. "Of course, but you know Harry. Never knows a good piece of advice when it's staring him straight in the face."

"Or maybe he just loves her," I responded quietly. "Ron, if something like this happened to you--"

"Don't even think about that," he said, his mood improving. His hand ran up and down my arm lovingly, and I sighed.

"I'm only saying I can understand how he feels," I replied.

"So can I," he said slowly. He leaned in and kissed me tenderly.

"I wouldn't be able to live without you."

I smiled, and stood up once more. "I better start packing."

"We don't leave until late in the afternoon," Ron said. "You don't have to start now."

"Well what would you have me do?" I asked.

"Get some rest," he replied, concern in his eyes. "You're working yourself too hard."

I decided it would be best to yield to my husband's wishes rather than fight them. After I had changed and joined Ron in the bed, I felt him wrap his arms around me and heard him whisper in my ear.

"One more thing."

"What, Ronald?"

"Don't bring any of those wretched books."

I smiled to myself and relaxed in his arms.

"As you wish."

***

I did not understand why we had to take a plane; I would much rather drive across the continent than fly over it, and aside from that fact, I didn't understand why we couldn't just apparate to Rome. That was at least what I thought until we arrived at the airport around 13:00 the next day, greeted by two very familiar faces waiting at the gate.

"Ron," I said quietly as we approached them. "What are my parents doing here?"

"They haven't seen you for a year, Hermione," he responded, squeezing my hand. "They'll only be with us for a few days, but I thought it would be nice if you spent some time with them."

I sighed in frustration. "We're not exactly on speaking terms, Ron."

Ron slumped slightly. "I thought that getting to know me more might change their minds…"

My parents had not been happy about my marriage to Ron at all; they had even had the nerve to refuse to come to my wedding. It had all started when we came to Australia and restored their memories—they were furious that I had sent them there in the first place, whether or not it was for their safety, and were even more unhappy when they learned of what I had been involved in during all my years at Hogwarts (I had never really told them who Voldemort was or how involved I was in the fight against him). They immediately assumed that it was all Ron's doing, that if I had never met him I would never have become such a disappointment.

In a way, they were right. Had it not been for Ron, I would have stayed the way I was at the beginning of my first year at Hogwarts—a snobby, know-it-all jerk who had no chance at making friends. I can't say I'm happy about everything that had come as a consequence of being one of Harry Potter's best friends, but I can say that my life it much less of a disappointment now than it would have been otherwise.

So they had been avoiding me, and I them, for the past year or so of my life. I hadn't felt that I really needed to have any contact with them, and they obviously hadn't missed me enough to try to contact me. But my husband, feeling guilty for his part in this row, had apparently decided to try and make things right, and I couldn't say I was in any way glad to learn that part of my anniversary was to be spent with them.

My parents reactions to seeing me were about what I would have expected them to be. My mother forced a polite smile and waved unenthusiastically, while my father stood still as stone, his arms crossed over his chest and his eyes staring at me sadly.

"Hi," I said softly, feeling slightly uncomfortable.

My mother's face softened and she stood and wrapped her arms around me loosely. "Hi, Hermione," she whispered.

As she pulled away from me, my father only nodded curtly in my direction in replace of a greeting. I shrunk away slightly at his cold gaze.

"Well," Ron said, clearing his throat. "I believe our flight if boarding…are you all set to go, Mr. and Mrs. Granger?"

"Yes," my mother said quickly, retrieving her purse from the ground. My father only grunted and picked up his briefcase. The two of them went ahead of us, not looking back once.

"This should be interesting," I whispered.

Ron released my arm slowly. "I'm beginning to think it was a bad idea."

"Really?" I responded, widening my eyes.

Simultaneously, we both sighed, then followed my parents onto the plane.

***

A/N: What did you think? Comments? Concerns? Let me know!

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