I Take All the Blame

Chapter 15

You can...
Save me from myself, you can
And it's you and no one else
If I could wish upon tomorrow, tonight would never end
If you asked me I would follow
But for now I'll just pretend
Cause if anyone can make me fall in love
You can...

~lyrics from "You Can" by David Archuleta


Even though I hadn't accompanied Ron and Harry into the Chamber of Secrets during our second year, I had seen enough during our last year of Hogwarts to know my way around. The main chamber was the same one the Basilisk had fallen in, the same place Ron and I had gone to destroy the remaining horcruxes during that fateful battle. Luckily for me, I remembered the way through the maze of pipes. Still, when I finally glimpsed the dead snake on the floor, I breathed a sigh of relief. Looking at my watch, my heart beat faster when I realized I now had only one hour forty-five minutes left.

Entering the chamber, I saw only one difference between this room three years ago and now: at the opposite side of the room, there was a wardrobe, and it was shaking. I immediately knew that there was a boggart inside, and I again wondered at Harry's choice of protection. Then again, there were hardly any people who would be able to get into this chamber to begin with—the protection didn't have to be absolutely complete.

I hurried across the room, wholly aware of the ticking of my watch. When I was a few feet away, I opened the door with my wand, ready to shout 'Ridikulus' the moment the boggart came into view. Instead, I dropped my wand and screamed.

Slouched in the back of the wardrobe was Ron's dead corpse, bleeding and scarred. His eyes were staring straight at mine, completely blank and glossed over. His mouth was slightly open, and there was a knife protruding out of his chest, right over his heart.

Shaking, I fell to the ground where my wand was. I tried to think of a way to make the situation humorous, but couldn't. I covered my eyes in an attempt to put it out of my mind, but the image was burned on the inside of my eyelids. I started sobbing, trying to remind myself that it wasn't real, that Ron was still alive for over an hour.

I slowly opened my eyes as I picked up my wand. The body was still there, eerily still and silent. I envisioned the horrible thing dressed up as a ballet dancer and shouted the spell, averting my eyes. When I finally looked back, the image was gone, and a doorway in the back of the wardrobe had appeared.

Still shaking, I grabbed the knob and turned it, entering a completely different room altogether. In the middle of the room was the Mirror of Erised, sitting completely unguarded. The door behind me closed and disappeared as I approached the mirror. I knew, judging from the past, that the Resurrection Stone was probably inside the mirror, much as the Philosopher's Stone had been so many years ago. I stood in front of the mirror and gasped at the sight that I saw.

In the mirror I saw myself holding a gorgeous baby girl with bright red hair. Behind me was Ron, smiling with his arm around my shoulder. I turned and smiled at him as well, then redirecting my gaze to the child in my arms.

Backing away from the mirror, I was slightly disturbed by the image I saw. I had already admitted to myself the fact that I loved Ron, but I wasn't even remotely ready to start a new relationship after all that had happened, and I didn't want one! There had to be a flaw in the mirror; if anything, my greatest desire was to have Nick behind me and Lizzie in my arms, not a child that I didn't even know.

Rubbing my forehead and closing my eyes, I forced myself to think of nothing but the Resurrection Stone. It was the key to saving Harry and Ron. Without it, the two of them would die.

When I looked at the mirror again, I saw only myself, dressed exactly as I was that day. I was holding the stone, and I smiled and placed it in my back pocket. A door appeared at the opposite end of the room, and I felt something materialize in the same pocket the me in the mirror had deposited the stone into. I sighed, realizing that I now had, or at least could easily get, all of the Hallows. I went through the new door and emerged in the Forbidden Forest, far away from school grounds. Looking at my watch, I saw that I still had an hour to find a hiding place for the stone, and sighed in relief. I was going to bring the cloak immediately to Malfoy to prove that I had accomplished what he asked.

Exhausted, I sat on the ground as my watch read midnight. In the distance I heard a bell chime twelve times, and realized that I was now twenty-two years old. I was much too young to be a widow.

With excitement, I pulled the Resurrection Stone from my back pocket. Was it true that with this stone you could communicate with the dead? Could I possibly see Nick and Lizzie again?

I nervously turned the stone over in my hands three times, and waited. After a few moments of anticipation, I saw two figures appearing in front of me. First was my darling little girl, and then I saw her father. I felt tears reach my eyes as they both smiled.

"Hi, Mommy!" said Lizzie. She both looked and sounded a little older than she had been when she died. "Happy Birthday!"

I laughed through my tears and slowly met my deceased husband's eyes.

"I miss you," I whispered.

He shook his head. "Don't worry about us, Hermione. Focus on yourself."

In that moment, it seemed to me that he was looking deep into my soul. I felt a rush of panic as I realized he knew—there was no way he couldn't know the thoughts that had been pouring through my brain. Did he feel betrayed? Was he angry? Or was he just sad that I had dismissed him so quickly?

As if in response to my thoughts, Nick smiled and again shook his head. "You deserve to be happy, Hermione."

"How can I?" I asked, standing to feel closer to them. "I shouldn't be feeling like this—"

"Yes, you should," he responded. "Love is a natural and powerful thing. You can't deny it, Hermione. Don't try to."

"But what about you?" I breathed.

He smiled lovingly. "I'm just glad I was able to spend a few years of my life with you," he gazed with happiness at his daughter beside him. "But you were never truly mine."

"I love you," I insisted. He silently shook his head.

"I know you did," he said softly. "But I should never have forced you to give up a part of yourself. It wasn't right of me. I see that now."

I couldn't respond because of my tears. He took a step closer, and then hesitated.

"You deserve someone who can love every part of you, Hermione."

I sighed, feeling his love envelope me, even though we were parted forever. He smiled sadly and stepped back once more.

"Follow your heart," he said slowly before vanishing in front of my eyes.

Lizzie stayed a little longer, smiling and running around in circles. After a moment, she turned to me seriously.

"Mommy, you have to go," she said quite articulately. "You don't have a lot of time."

I realized the truth of what she had said as she disappeared as well. I had been there for a half hour, leaving me that same amount of time to hide the stone and return to the Death Eaters. Looking around frantically, I spied a hollow in a tree close by and placed the stone inside, lingering for a moment before taking off.

However much I wanted to deny it, I knew Nick was right. To some extent, I needed to move on and continue to live my life here without him. I saw what he meant about someone loving all of me, and even though I didn't regret the time I spent with him, I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. Ron did love all of me.

And I loved all of him.

I unconsciously began to fly faster as I thought about him. He needed to know before I died—he had the right to know. My love had always been hidden to the point that I myself wasn't able to recognize it. It was time that it was acknowledged and accepted.

I love Ronald Weasley!

I felt my heart jump as I let my emotions run loose. I truly did love him! There was no way for me to deny that now. All the feelings I had been feeling came back to me in one huge wave, filling my heart with immense joy and sorrow. Yes, he had to know—if he felt at all about me that way I felt about him, the last memory he had of me needed to be one that he would never forget.

Ten minutes were left on my timer when I saw the opening of the cave in front of me. I practically jumped off of my broom, leaving it lying on the ground as I rushed to the entrance. There was no one guarding it this time—no doubt they were all waiting in the main room.

Just as I had expected, all sixty Death Eaters were gathered in the room when I entered. I stopped, panting, in the middle of the room. Malfoy looked at his watch and smiled.

"I thought you weren't going to make it, Mrs. Rollins!" he said, smirking. "Such a pity. Now I have to let your friends go."

I saw Harry and Ron standing together out of the corner of my eye. Every part of me wanted to run to him, to tell him how I felt, to let him know that he was not the only one fighting with his emotions. I heard him call my name as the Death Eaters started forcing him and Harry out of the cave.

"Wait!" I screamed.

Everyone halted, and Malfoy eyed me curiously.

"Let me say goodbye," I whispered.

He smirked and nodded his head to Harry and Ron's escorts. I turned and ran to them, reading concern in each of their faces.

I hugged Harry first, holding on tighter than I ever thought I would. He undoubtedly understood what was happening, even if Ron didn't. As I pulled away from him, I read in his eyes that he was pleading for me not to go through with it. I knowingly shook my head.

"James is beautiful," I whispered, smiling through my tears. I saw that I had touched Harry deeply, and despite his unwillingness he smiled.

I turned to Ron, his eyes filled with fear. As I looked into those eyes, I felt as if my emotions had spun out of control.

"Hermione—" he started.

I shook my head and wrapped my arms around him, involuntarily putting my lips against his. I felt as if I had sent my emotions into overload as he suddenly pulled me closer to him. My heart beat faster than I think it ever had before; we were like one person, almost inseparable. It was so natural—neither of us was thinking about what we were doing; we were just existing there in each others arms.

Someone violently pulled the two of us apart. Ron stared at me in shock, but quickly overcame it as he was being pulled away.

"Hermione, no!" he yelled, trying to free himself from the Death Eaters. His eyes were filled with confusion and longing, as well as the fear that had been in them before.

"I love you, Ron," I responded, realizing that I, too, was being restrained. Ron's eyes widened, and he disappeared from view.

I felt the last tear that I had drop from my cheek onto the floor.

"I love you."

***

A/N: Well? How was it? What did you think? Was it good? Was it bad? This is really repetitive of my other notes, isn't it? Just review!!

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