Chapter 1: Funeral
The Boy Who Lived...and Died
We at the Daily Prophet are grieved to report that the rumors are true. Harry Potter, the boy who faced and survived He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named no less than eight times, the star Quidditch player of Hogwarts, and world renowned Auror, has indeed, finally fallen victim to the Dark Lord's supporters.
Only two days ago, Harry Potter, armed only with his wand and his two closest friends and fellow Aurors, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, stormed the Malfoy manor. The trio has always been known for their impetuous plans. The details have not been released as the matter is still being investigated. In what can only have been a rash decision to lead his team into a known Death Eater haven, Harry Potter and his best friend, Ronald Weasley have both sacrificed their lives. Due to some unknown twist of fate, their other best friend, and third part of their once unstoppable union, Hermione Granger, has survived.
Like her team, the young Ms. Granger is fresh out of Aurors' academy and only fours years from her time at Hogwarts, but according to the professors that the three shared, they were all highly qualified in defense against the dark arts. And indeed, the Auror team of Potter, Weasley, and Granger will probably become legendary amongst their fellow Aurors. No other team has managed to stop and imprison so many Death Eaters. Even though He-Who- Must-Not-Be-Named was never apprehended, the wizarding world was able to sleep soundly at night knowing that Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger were there to protect them.
The Daily Prophet tried to get an interview with the young Ms. Granger, but she has been refusing virtually all contact. The only statement that she has made was, "We went to the Malfoy Manor believing it to be nearly deserted save Lucius Malfoy and his closest allies, Morson Crabbe and Philip Goyle. The information we had was false though, and we were overrun." Ms. Granger later identified the bodies of Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. A private funeral is scheduled today for our two fallen heroes. The only thing left for us to do is to remember and wait. Wait for the full emergence of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his followers for without Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger to keep him back, who else will be strong enough?
Hermione frowned slightly before folding up the newspaper and tucking it under her arm. A bitter wind ruffled her robes. The deep black that she wore only served to make her paler. There were people milling about the different tombs looking lost. Some of their closest friends from Hogwarts and the academy were here, old professors and family. The Weasleys sat together silently near the end of the two graves in one large group. As one, their red haired heads were bowed. Hermione saw Ginny's shoulders begin to shake uncontrollably. Percy draped an arm around her and Hermione noticed that he wiped at his eyes as well. Mrs. Weasley was inconsolable.
Albus Dumbledore walked to the front of the crowd and then turned to face them, the twinkle gone from his eyes. He looked at Hermione once more. He had wanted her to do the eulogy, but she had refused without offering an explanation. Dumbledore smiled sadly at them.
"Today we say good-bye to our young heroes..."
Hermione turned from the graves and began walking slowly so as not to draw attention to herself. She skirted the edge of the crowd before starting across the graveyard itself. She didn't want to be there when he finished. She didn't want to be there when Mrs. Weasley had to be carried out or Ginny turned to her with tears shining in her eyes asking again how it had happened. She had just crossed behind a tree when she stopped. Sitting stoically by a headstone was a Grim. No, not a grim, she reassured herself.
The dog twitched and glanced in her direction before materializing into a man. His long, unchecked hair looked even more matted than usual. His haggard face held two dark, searching eyes. For a moment, Hermione feared that the loss of Harry had driven him mad.
"Hermione?" His voice was a harsh whisper.
"You could go closer," she said softly, not wanting to get nearer to those mad eyes. "I don't think anyone would notice."
"No, no it's better here," was his only response.
Hermione's frown deepened even more as she looked at Sirius Black. They had never been able to clear his name, no matter how hard they had tried. That little rat Pettigrew had always managed to slip down some sewer or crack in the floor. It had been so hard on Harry to worry about him the way that he had and Hermione had hated it.
"Are you leaving?" His raspy voice captured her attention again.
"Yes," she said softly glancing back down at the funeral. "I don't think I can stand much more of it." She was thankful to finally speak something that was true. Sirius turned his full attention to Hermione now and she found it highly disconcerting.
"There was a spy, wasn't there? Just like Peter."
Hermione rubbed one temple and sighed. "Yes, there probably was. We don't know who yet."
Sirius took a step towards her when she looked away. "What happened? What happened there? Why was Harry such a fool to go right into the heart of Malfoy Manor?" His voice was low and dangerous and before Hermione could step away he had grabbed her arm. "Why did you let him? You're the smart one Hermione! You were supposed to keep him safe!"
Stung, Hermione snapped back at him, "No, that was your job!"
Sirius flinched and a spasm of pain crossed his face and he released her with a ragged exhale of breath. Hermione felt awful, she hadn't meant to say anything like that to him. No one could have done a better job keeping Harry safe, she was just so tired of all of this. Everyone kept turning to her for answers, answers she couldn't give.
"Sirius, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."
"It's true though, it was my job, as Harry's godfather I should have, should have been there." Sirius' hollow voice turned sharp again. "But why were you there? You must have known it was a trap!"
His eyes caught hers and held them captive. His jaw dropped in astonishment; years in Azkaban surrounded by some of the worst criminals in the world had made him very skilled at reading faces.
"You did know it was trap," he whispered.
Hermione swallowed hard. She wasn't going to do anymore lying today. She turned quickly and began walking away from Sirius, away from the funeral.
"Hermione!" He roared at her as he followed.
"Hush Sirius, someone will see you." Then Hermione was gone with a small pop.
Hermione pulled her funeral robe over her head and let it fall to the floor, pooling over itself in sinister waves. She walked the length of the flat, past Harry's room, and then Ron's, across the small living room and library to her own room. Once there she slid into a soft blue robe. Ron always told her that blue was her color.
A sharp bang echoed through the flat and Hermione drew her wand. She whisked silently back down the hall to the front door. She stood nervously behind it wishing that Ron or Harry were here; they were much better at dueling than she was.
"Hermione Granger! You open this door right now!" An all too familiar voice roared through the wood at her.
Hermione groaned. It was impossible to Apparate right into the flat; they had made it unplottable for safety reasons. One could easily Apparate into the Muggle building that they lived in, however. Its location was a well- guarded secret, but Harry had almost always trusted Sirius with his secrets.
Hermione flicked the lock and pulled open the door. Sirius stood in front of her, one arm propped against the frame, his hair hanging in sweaty clumps around his face. A wand that wasn't his own was clenched tightly in his hand. He was breathing hard from exertion. There was a terrified squeak from behind him and he spun around, his wand pointing at Hermione's neighbor, old Mrs. Tavary. The wrinkled woman looked from Sirius to Hermione and then back again.
"It's all right," Hermione said calmly to the woman. "This is Harry's godfather."
Mrs. Tavary ogled Sirius with distrust a moment longer. "Are you sure dear?"
"Yes, it's fine. I'm sorry that he disturbed you."
The old woman pulled back into her own flat and closed the door. There was a sound of a dead bolt being drawn and then the silence was deafening in the hall.
"Well Sirius," Hermione said finally as she stepped back, "won't you come in?"
Hermione didn't wait for an answer as she walked back through the flat. Absentmindedly she finished buttoning her robe and headed towards the kitchen. The door closed, the lock turned, and Sirius was standing at the archway of the kitchen, watching her. Hermione paid him no mind as she took two coffee cups from the cupboard. Sirius watched her darkly as she crossed to the pantry and pulled out a bag of coffee. Though Hermione had always been a rabid tea drinker while at Hogwarts and during her time at the academy, living with Ron and Harry this past year had switched her devotion from tea bags to coffee grinds.
Sirius had yet to move. He was watching her for some sign, for some indication that she felt anything. He wanted to see the girl that he knew, the girl who had been one of his godson's best friends, the girl that had been the brains behind so many of Ron and Harry's most daring plots. But there was nothing.
"Don't you even care?" He rasped in disbelief.
Hermione didn't look at him as she watched the coffee begin to drip into the pot. "Of course I care. I miss them terribly."
She poured the coffee into the mugs and held one out to Sirius, but he knocked it from her hand as he roughly grabbed her arm. The mug shattered on the ground but he paid it no mind.
"What happened to Harry?"
Hermione felt her chin begin to tremble and the tears build up, but she refused to give him that satisfaction. She jerked back from him angrily.
"What do you think happened? What you always said would happen. We would get into trouble and I wouldn't be strong enough to get them out of it." She felt a small hint of satisfaction as her words sunk in. Sirius had never realized that she knew what he thought of her.
He always had been over-protective of Harry, and when they had become Aurors, Ron as well. But he had always treated her with indifference. Not to say that he was unkind to her, but she always felt his disapproval. On more than one occasion she had heard him talking with Harry and Ron, trying to convince them to change her mind, to stop her from becoming an Auror, to stop her from continuing with their partnership. Even before they had started the academy, before they had left Hogwarts even, it had been too late to separate them.
"I hadn't meant it that way," Sirius muttered darkly, more to himself than to her. "You can't hold yourself responsible for this."
"You don't believe that this is my fault?" She asked simply while bending down to gather the broken porcelain.
Hermione stood and set the pieces on the counter, she would magic them back together later. Sirius was watching her again with that deeply penetrating look that he so often had around her. She had always hated it, she felt like he was sizing her up for something.
"If you would only tell me what happened. There has to be more to it than that." His voice broke, betraying a hint of desperation.
Hermione felt all her will waver. Didn't they deserve more than this? But she couldn't, even if she wanted to. Hermione pressed past Sirius, but he made no attempt to stop her and she headed towards her room.
"I know that you're hiding something," he called as the door closed behind her.
Hermione lay on her bed staring at the ceiling. She wasn't sure if she could do this. It had been very hard so far and it didn't seem to be getting any easier. She had stumbled from Malfoy Manor dazed and bleeding, calling out for Harry and Ron. The other Aurors had been there by that time and they rushed into the mansion and found the bodies.
Albus Dumbledore had gotten there first. He had helped Hermione to sit and held her hand, asking what had happened. And then she had lied. And she hadn't been able to stop. Everyone wanted to know what had happened, how the mighty Harry Potter had fallen. What were Ron's last words? But the bigger questions were still left hanging in the air, only Ginny Weasley, whom Hermione loved like a sister, had been able to ask them.
"Why them? How did you manage to survive?"
And again, Hermione had lied.
Dumbledore had decided that Hermione was simply in shock, that she would begin mourning soon enough. But that wasn't true. Hermione wouldn't be mourning the deaths of Harry and Ron, the two most important people in the world to her. And this was because of one simple little secret that she couldn't tell. Harry and Ron were alive.