Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy
When I retired to our room, I knew I had again explored and also crossed boundaries, but to my own amazement it had felt good. I had enjoyed being so bloody dominant. I had enjoyed tormenting Draco very much, for the fact that I had caused him pain in multiple and complex ways had been evident. Physically and mentally, I had dangerously clawed at his control. I belonged to no-one, damn it! Nevertheless, I was sure he had liked it and the thrill of danger had excited him, otherwise I would hardly have let myself be tempted to torture him so much.
And if I was honest, if I had not restrained myself from time to time, had not pulled myself back with determination, I could have tormented him much more and I had enjoyed it in all its forms. Until then, I had not known that I was carrying such a repertoire of sadistic ideas around with me. I gladly admitted my astonishment at myself, because everything I could think of to torment him came to me spontaneously. Draco deserved every pain and humiliation I had inflicted on him earlier as he had knowingly disregarded my explicit wishes, which had made me excessively angry and, as I then realized, had made sure that I did not even hold back with my furious thoughts of revenge against him. I just did not let anyone treat me like that. Nobody could treat me like that without bearing the consequences, not even my boyfriend, maybe especially not my boyfriend, because I was absolutely not Draco's trophy.
There was a reason I had fled the Manor. I had intended to diminish the dominion of the three serpents over me and therefore I had to stick to my new point of view firmly and ruthlessly; that had to be done! It was enough! Draco could not and was not allowed to abuse me and to dangle me between Severus and Lucius like the trophy to be won. They didn't deserve that and neither did I! My anger over this and over Draco's high-handed behaviour was slow to subside. I hoped he had finally internalised the fact that I belonged to no one!
That I could be like that worried me a little. The way he lay there so helplessly before me, that was ... that was just fantastic and I had enjoyed molesting him and satisfying my lust on him. And then to see him coming, so completely powerless, at the mercy of his own lust and greed, had given me an incredible feeling of delight. I knew I had taken him by surprise and I would not be able to do something like that again so easily, only if he wasn't paying attention, but it was good to show him that I could still surprise him even if it was with my cruelty.
I had been serious about Lucius and Severus. I enjoyed it and with the necessary distance I also liked to know that I had them in my hand. On Severus, I had tried to use my charm tonight and I really didn't need Draco's interference, because Severus had been quite tame by his standards. However, when Draco had interfered so stupidly and had rubbed me being with him so plainly under Severus' nose, Severus became angry for understandable reasons. And then who did he take his bad temper out on? Who had to bear the consequences of Draco's childish behaviour? Exactly, ME, and I didn't want that! Draco had to bloody learn that!
When I thought of the expression on Harry's and Ron's faces when I walked up to them half-naked, their profound horror after seeing what Draco's and my love play looked like... Harry had irretrievably lost his hopes and fantasies of how I could be and was now confronted with the total truth that I was as I was. He had looked very shaken and very pale. Well, we didn't need to talk about Ron, he had seemed on the verge of brain damage, coupled with a heart attack, as bright red as he had looked when he saw me like this, with Draco and what I did to him.
I had resolutely sent them both away. They had looked so horrified already and if they had had to witness the rest, they would probably have been ripe for St. Mungos. I chuckled in amusement. The Twins, however, had put on quite a show themselves. I had been practically able to taste their pent-up lust after they had watched us and I hadn't had to ask for long if they wanted to participate for a short while.
When I had humiliated and degraded Draco, I had been able to see in his eyes that he liked it, with the restriction that he would have been happy to switch. Oh yes, he would have loved that.
I was now lying in my bed and going through my terrifying cruelty - and that I was not ashamed of it - when I heard the door open quietly and a person sneaked up to the bed and stayed there, looking down on me. With a sigh I gave in, folded back the duvet, which he understood as the invitation it was and crawled into bed with me. Feeling his cold body, I instinctively snuggled closer to him to warm him and he silently wrapped his arms around me, held me tightly and I bedded my head comfortably on his shoulder. We did not exchange words, that was not necessary.
I felt his lips on my hair as he kissed it, which made me smile softly. He seemed to have learned the lesson for he touched me, held me, but this was not sexual, just tender and gentle, without demand. I felt that it had the intended effect and now, after this extraordinary experience he probably sought and needed closeness - closeness to me, to whom he owed this shocking, borderline experience. With our limbs entangled, we fell asleep.
"What...where were you?" we were greeted tentatively by Ron the next morning as he sat down at the table with a cautious, suspicious look. "I was looking for you," he whispered hoarsely. He didn't look well, had dark circles under his eyes, his skin looked sallow and his hair lay flat against his head.
"Did you sleep well in that little room? Astoria and I, we'll furnish it for you later and make it more cosy," Daphne said, attentively placing a cup of coffee in front of Ron who stared at the offerings rather foolishly and nodded his head like a remote-controlled bobblehead.
"Where did you put Ronnie?" Fred asked cheekily and Ron pressed his lips together, trying to control himself, and looked at me with an expression of sadness, incomprehension and shock.
"Fred, stop pestering your brother! In that little office. A bed fits in there, but Astoria and I will make it nice for him, redecorate it later," Daphne asserted herself. She seemed to be looking for a good relationship with her boyfriend's best friend and George supported her by giving Fred a knock to the head. It was nice to see the way Daphne went about things and I could also see Harry's grateful smile as he took her hand and squeezed it, eliciting a delightful giggle from her.
"Your question, Ron: we run, every day, all of us. After the night we had, we... I, didn't want to wake you up, but I guess you'll have to participate from now on like everybody else. Here we show discipline! Ron, I really hope you know what you're getting yourself into. It's hard enough for me, really hard, but how you're gonna handle it, I don't know. I fight every day," Harry said, shaking his head sorrowfully. I wanted to leave this to Harry, it was better if I held back. Ron was his baby, not mine. I couldn't do everything by myself, I thought, while Ron now looked at Harry with an overwhelmed expression in his eyes.
Blaise and Draco were the last ones to rush through the door into the kitchen. Draco had regained his composure; the mask sat perfectly! He seemed as arrogant and snobbish as ever and it fit him like a glove! I admired Draco for the self-confidence with which he put my infamy behind him, ignoring it as if my revenge and the way I had lived it out hadn't been unusual or abnormal, even if I had taken some pleasure in it. Since when had I been so vengeful? Well, as it seemed, my new family was not good for me. One thing was clear: I would no longer let myself be bullied! I was glad that my retreat into the cottage had made me find my old strength again, or even make me stronger, because before I would not have considered doing something like this with Draco.
He had acted so gently and tenderly in the morning as he rarely did before, had woken me up lovingly and had given me a seductive smile that surprised me, but I had also enjoyed it. So I had kissed him and one thing had led to another. I thought that I had made my point well enough yesterday and so we had a quick, early morning lovemaking session. He had been affectionate, but also determined and after yesterday I had enjoyed letting him do it. It had been good to feel normal again after so many boundaries had fallen again yesterday, but it seemed that he had gained something from it, even though I had no doubt that he would have preferred it the other way around. Well, let's just say that he had managed to satisfy me all around, I now showed a contented grin, thinking about the pleasure of the morning. I was curious how long he would really be able to adhere to my warning words.
His voice pulled me out of my memory.
"Get away Daphne, you're not doing it right," he shooed her away from the stove. After yesterday, he seemed to want to go about his favourite activity, cooking for us and I swear, everyone would think it was impossible, but he was good. Daphne had already fled and sat down beside Harry again.
Ron just sat there and looked as if he was sick. Swallowing heavily, he managed to keep his mouth shut about the unusual fact that a Malfoy was standing behind a frying pan. You could see how hard it was for Ron to do nothing and say nothing. To see the white-blond wizard here in the daylight now seemed to be very distressing for him, as if a nightmare had come true now that Draco was still there.
"Hey, tall blond guy! Well, handsome, how was the rest of the night? Did we prepare the most beautiful right for you? Was it heated enough? Rrrr," it came more than insinuating from Fred and he licked his rosy lips. While the Twin purred seductively, Draco tried to kill his eggs in the pan after the line, going by the way he was shredding them. I looked at Draco worried, not knowing how he had taken my derailment and whether he was upset with the Twins that I had included them.
"Well, I must say, Fred and I, we had our fun! And sorry, mate, but it was brilliant to see you like that. Hope you were good and got your satisfaction... And by the way, who would have thought that you, Hermione, would be wearing such hot lingerie even under a sack like the one you wore yesterday! Rrrrr," George purred lasciviously now and the mischief sparkled from his eyes.
Ron took a squeaky breath and his face turned bright red. He looked very unhealthy and Harry looked away, lifting his cup and hiding behind it. He seemed embarrassed by the memory which I understood, but then, out of a clever instinct, he put his hand on Ron's shoulder to prevent him from doing something stupid. I was more amused. The Twins seemed to have had their fun and so did I, so I just waited anxiously for Draco. Even Daphne showed a healthy complexion, which told me that Harry had told her everything. Only Blaise and Astoria looked around interested and curiosity was written all over their faces.
"You do what you can, and yes, I had my fun," Draco remained calm and casually turned the bacon, giving us all a wicked smile and me a wink.
"And she let you live, that's something," Fred giggled mischievously at his insinuation.
"Of course, otherwise Hermione wouldn't have enjoyed it," Draco said with a mean grin, "and I was allowed to have her and... I enjoyed it, you can believe me," he alluded viciously to the fact that I had thrown the Twins out.
Astoria giggled about it, while Daphne had a bright red face by now, and Ron clenched his fists, trembling heavily and concentrating on breathing in and out. I was surprised that he hadn't said anything until now, it wasn't his style to keep silent for so long and that was when he hissed angrily:
"Is it always like this here?" He looked around the room with sparkling eyes.
"When those two are around, at least there's always life in the house. It never gets dull with Hermione and Draco, but that yesterday, yeah, that wasn't normal. Alas, who said they were normal?! Although, in Slytherin they also love to do such performances," it came from Blaise. Ron just stared at him with his mouth open, gobsmacked at the new realisation that I visited the enemy house frequently.
His head met his arms, which he had put on the table; he was very shocked. I was afraid that he was toying with the idea of banging his head on the table and Harry must have had the same, as he got up and laid both hands on Ron's shoulders to give him support.
"Hey, mate, I also didn't like what we saw yesterday, but it wasn't meant for our eyes either! You have to deal with that now and I really wish myself that I hadn't seen it. This is different than anything you could have imagined, worse, but also better. Look at it this way: Here I am finally free, no one is bullying me and if Malfoy or Hermione say something, it is justified, not like Dumbledore, who acts high-handedly at his own discretion. They even explain why they act one way or another. And when Blaise yells, it's only during practice and I have to admit, he's quite good, so I'm happy to follow. He teaches us to fight really well and that's very useful. I can be here with Daphne, who wouldn't like it at home either, just like her sister and guess what, we only owe it to Hermione. Just like your brothers owe her for having a home here when your parents don't want to see them.
"For all this, I gladly accept that Hermione chose Malfoy, even if it doesn't make me happy. How can I be against snakes if I'm with one? And well, we didn't like Malfoy for other reasons, but I can respect him because I see why he acts the way he does, although I still don't like him." Harry surprised me very much, all his conversations with me and Draco had really borne fruit and he had come to understand a lot. I also found it exciting to see how detailed he had thought about everything and that he obviously now was able to cope with most of what I was doing for him or did in general. It was not all senseless what I did, because now I could see how Harry developed.
Ron nodded thoughtfully. Eventually, he answered with an air of sadness but also calmness. Nonetheless, he had his hands buried in his hair and seemed to pull on it.
"I think this is quite a lot for me all at once and every time I think I know everything now, something new arises. This is like diving into a completely different world where everything is exactly the way it should never be. I never expected that all this would turn out so completely wrong. You and Daphne I can accept because she seems really nice. That Hermione has been conspiring with Fred and George for so long is somehow understandable, now that I know how long she has been planning. I don't deny that they are brilliant and I can't keep up with them. Yes, I'm not a real book lover and found it rather silly, so I can understand why she was looking for other partners. But Malfoy?! I don't understand it, and so far I can't see what could have caused you to change your mind about him that much! I don't understand so much of it! Regarding Snape, the bat, and what I saw and heard there... I can't think about it, or I'll puke!" He had become louder and louder.
"He is funny," Astoria remarked, looking at Ron, who blinked at her in surprise. "Really, Ron, you're funny! You look as if you're about to burst," she was as charming as ever and alluded to his thoroughly tense posture, the clenched fists with tufts of hair sticking out of them, the pinched face and his suffering gaze.
"That's not funny, kid, I'm not playing! This is a thousand times worse than anything I expected, Harry," he effortlessly roared in control.
"Hey, she's not a kid. Astoria is all grown up," Blaise protested in a growling voice and I saw him look at Astoria hotly and her returning his hot-blooded gaze. The air was crackling between the two.
"Could it be that there were two more people in this house having fun yesterday?" George now wanted to know very curiously and he bent over towards Astoria, which made her laugh.
"A gentleman never tells," Blaise said snootily, giving him a pompous look.
"Oh, that's a new one, isn't it, Blaise? Usually, I had to listen to every detail, no matter how uninteresting or dirty it was," it came maliciously from Draco.
"All right, what do you want to hear?" he asked, annoyed, and Astoria got red ears.
"Everything," the Twins replied eagerly.
"Well... we're a couple now. We want to give it a try."
I breathed a happy sigh of relief at Blaise's words and was thrilled to hear him confirm it.
"Boo! Boo! Where are the details?" Fred kept at it.
"You're perverts," Blaise proclaimed, miffed.
"What? We? Then what are Hermione and Draco?" both Twins wondered, once again speaking in sync.
"Hey, that's insulting! Who almost joined in yesterday?" Draco now complained, sounding quite relaxed. He didn't seem to mind, if anything, he seemed rather amused.
Only Harry, Ron, and Daphne didn't seem to be very happy about the subject and remained silent. Ron could be heard retching and Harry patted him on the back sympathetically and then gave all of us an angry look.
"Could you slow down?" Harry snapped, then turned to Ron and looked intensely at him. "Yeah, Ron, I can totally understand you, really. Look, your brothers don't seem shocked by last night's interlude, but I... Oh, don't think I don't care, but I will be careful not to get involved. She knows what she's doing and, believe me, it pains me to say it, but I've really understood that Hermione doesn't need or want pity. Remember, she liked it." Harry couldn't quite keep his disgust out of his voice and I didn't know if he was alluding to Severus or Draco. My bold guess was on both. I hid my smile in my cup. "Unbelievable, but true, she seems to enjoy this role and situation! However, it is her life, RON, not yours, not mine, just hers."
Ron now looked at Harry with big blue eyes, in which shock and disbelief were all too clearly written. Otherwise, everyone was quiet and listening to what was happening. Draco pretended to be uninvolved and was cooking away.
"But she means so much to me that I am ready to accept," Harry concluded fervently.
The statement lingered in the room, almost bringing tears to my eyes, and I could feel Draco's intense gaze on me when I looked up and could see him nodding to me. I was grateful that he was happy for me, for I understood his gesture.
"Don't look like that, Ron. I have come to the realisation that she is just different than we thought, but many of her qualities that I cherish are not gone, no, and that makes me cherish them even more! She is loyal, faithful, clever, always kind to me and she helps where she can, only she is a good deal colder and more ruthless when necessary than I thought. But Ron, we too have changed, we have all matured. Look at me; I'm not as gullible and clueless as I was a short while ago," Harry thoughtfully pressed Ron and the redhead's eyes swept over all our heads as his face changed colour in seconds. He was very pale at first, then red again, looking unhealthy, and then he jumped up so that his chair fell over with a loud thud. Determined, he almost ran towards the open garden door, practically fleeing, he was rushing so hard.
"What was that?" asked the Twins and we all shrugged our shoulders as we only looked at each other in surprise, amazed at this very sudden escape by Ron, when we heard a very loud, very penetrating, very desperate scream, which cut us all to the bones and rang in our ears, so loud had it been. Our heads went up in horror when this sound arose, reminiscent of the mortal agony of a tormented animal.
Before anyone could do anything and before we could get out of our stupor, he came back. Standing high and tall in the doorway, he was still pale and now also out of breath, but his expression was calmer.
"Now we can go on. What's the next shock?" he said succinctly, sounding very sarcastic and knowing how to take us by surprise. That was probably called anger management, I thought amusedly as my gaze fell on his hand and I saw the blood slowly dripping down on the tiled kitchen floor. I immediately rose, worried, wanting to heal him. When Ron measured me with a doubtful look, I pointed to his hand and now finally all eyes were on it. Harry groaned.
"Hermione, I hope for your sake, you didn't want to heal him," I was snapped at and jerked around in surprise at the sharp voice.
"What?" I dared to ask.
"Well, if you're giving me this task, then don't interfere," I was rebuked and everyone looked at Daphne in astonishment, who was clearly marking her territory and now took Ron's hand without hesitation, which made him hiss in pain. Meanwhile, I let myself flop back into my chair.
"What...? No, don't," he wanted to brush Daphne off, but if she was anything, then persistent and probably stubborn, considering the way she glared at him, whereupon he slumped his shoulders and she healed his fist, which he must have slammed against a tree with great force, thereby scraping it rather badly.
"So, now that Weasel has made his dramatic appearance: dinner is ready," Draco announced completely uninvolved and Harry and Astoria gave up, put a plate in front of each of us and then we all sat down.
"Thank you," Ron choked out with difficulty, only it wasn't so clear for what or to whom. Did he mean the food Draco served him or that Daphne had healed him?
He didn't have an easy time, but I gave him credit for trying to work on himself and keep his temper under control. The amazing thing was, he didn't seem to be hungry. Generally, Ron was always hungry, but he was just pushing his food back and forth on the plate, watching us from under pale, lowered lids.
"Hermione, the day after tomorrow we must return to the Manor. Father would like to speak to you immediately, I am supposed to tell you; he is eager," Draco now addressed me conspiratorially and I only nodded.
"'What about Severus?' I heard myself asking cautiously.
"Nothing. He is very busy and on the road a lot... Too many parties to keep him occupied when he has time and is not stuck at Hogwarts! Father has already ordered another batch of glasses," he said smugly and I broke out into loud laughter, imagining how the projectiles, which flew in my direction with a nice regularity at Hogwarts, shot towards Lucius and even Draco laughed honestly at the inside joke.
"That bad?" I asked after I could breathe again.
"Yes, his mood is really bad and Father does everything to make it worse every day. I hope that you will cheer them up again, both of them," Draco moaned and showed me that he meant this seriously. My action yesterday seemed to work, I felt confirmed.
We were interrupted when two owls sailed in through the open garden door and landed on the counter and caught everybody's attention. I leaned back and released the cargo intended for me from the animals' feet.
The others waited or whispered to themselves while I read my mail in peace. Even Ron seemed to be grateful for the break and drank his coffee, even though he often grimaced. Coffee was new to him as I knew. We only had tea in the afternoon, everyone here preferred a stronger choice of beverage in the morning.
An icy smile spread on my face when I read that Rangok wrote that Bill had investigated and he had now forwarded all documents to the Ministry. It was all official now and they, Gringotts, had custody. He would not mention the other, as this was only pro-forma, essentially unnecessary, and he wrote gloatingly - I could imagine his sharp, spiteful smile - that Mr. Weasley was not happy about it.
Also, the life insurance money had now been transferred. Well done! This meant that I could finally put an end to this tiresome business.
The other letter was still in front of me on the tabletop. It was from Dumbledore and so I wielded my wand, casting some detection spells first, because with him I would not take any risks and that turned out to be the better choice, because my suspicions were confirmed. It was nothing bad, but when you opened the letter, the spell would show him the way, or at least the approximate location. The Blood Wards and Fidelius would make it impossible for him to find us, but still he would know the direction. Did the old coot really think we were that stupid?
"Folks, this letter is from Dumbledore! Harry, Ron, I must ask you, if you receive letters from him, do not open them! They contain tracking spells. Not that he could find the house, but then we can't get in and out so easily," I explained, aiming at the letter and after a non-verbal Incendio the letter burst into bright flames and the fire hungrily ate the paper, which curled, turning first black and then into ashes.
"Of course, I won't touch those things," Harry immediately roared up and gritted his teeth as he thought about the insolence of what Dumbledore was doing and allowing himself once again. "He's unbelievable! He doesn't accept anything. That's awful! What is he thinking?" he raged on.
"Um... well, of course..." Ron started to stutter and I measured him with my head tilted. "I won't... But... But they wanted me to write," he added to consideration.
"You are allowed to do that, Ron! But that's a difference, because you won't put any spells on them," George said to his brother and Ron looked at him startled.
"Yeah... well, all right! Maybe Dumbledore putting spells on it isn't that great a choice," Ron answered, intimidated.
"Well, Weasel, 'not that great' is a bit harmless. It's an impertinence!" Draco reprimanded him sharply. At Draco's voice, Ron's head immediately shot up and I saw how it sparkled aggressively in Ron's eyes but he visibly bit his lip. "I warn you, if you try to deceive us, you will not be happy. The punishments are severe here," came the warning from Draco in the form of a dangerous-sounding growl as his steel-grey eyes stared venomously at Ron.
"Take it easy, Malfoy. Ron, sorry mate, but I'm sort of in agreement... Yeah, don't look at me like that. I think you need to take this more seriously. If you want in, you've got to mean it, including not telling anyone. The secrets of everyone here are now all our secrets. We... I need to be able to trust you. There is much that we know that will shake up your worldview... especially about Dumbledore, but I'll tell you more later in private," Harry said very seriously and had a haggard look on his face.
"All right, you two sort it out. I don't want Weasel to get any mail," rumbled Draco.
"No trust or what, Malfoy?" Blaise teased.
"Yes, I do. I just don't know where I'm at with him yet, and until I get that sorted out, you keep an eye on it. Understood?" Draco commanded brazenly.
"Well, I have to go, I have things to do. Tomorrow, Hermione told me, you guys have a big exercise planned. Unfortunately, at that time I am at the funeral. Morgana be thanked, we'll be done with it, although the two of us will be gone afterwards, too. It's a pity I won't be able to watch you all tomorrow, however, I'm looking forward to hearing about it next time" he said and grinned in good humour as he bent down to me, kissing my forehead, before disappearing quickly.
His goodbye and sudden good mood seemed to confuse Ron again, but instead of saying anything he just shook his head as if he wanted to shake off an unpleasant image or thought and remained silent. The rest of the breakfast went quietly. Ron brooded while the others planned how the day would go.
After breakfast, everybody scattered around the cottage to do their chores and Ron and Harry stayed in the kitchen or strolled in the garden for the rest of the day. They always went there when Ron had to shout. If it wasn't so tragic, it might have been funny.
Ron was doing pretty good! Harry just didn't tell him how many people I'd already killed. He explained about Narcissa after Draco's confession that I had actually done it, because he thought it had to be explained in more detail. Ron's reaction was astonishing. Harry told us about it later. Ron was unmoved by the fact that she was dead and that I had carried out the assassination. He might have been more shocked if it had been the Avada, but the venom he thought was rather cool and he said that if Malfoy didn't care, then he, Ron, certainly wouldn't!
He felt relatively little compassion for a Malfoy, especially after realizing how she had threatened me. That she had poisoned me brought Ron's self-control to the brink of collapse. The debate about the Malfoy family was quite loud and Ron could often be heard retching loudly when it came to Lucius, Severus, or Draco. When the talk turned to the Death Eaters, it got heated because Ron thought it was a very bad idea and Harry agreed with him wholeheartedly. Ron laconically tried to say that this would have to be faced as the dice were cast and, following that, they sank into a stoic silence, as the possibilities seemed so hopeless.
When Harry revealed all the evidence of Dumbledore's past to him, it was over! Ron flew into a fit of choleric rage that had no equal. The noise echoing through the cottage was deafening and when Blaise and I tried to help tame Ron, Harry resolutely threw us out of the demolished kitchen, which Ron dismantled without any magic, since he was not yet allowed to use any, all by himself with only the strength of his muscles. After he had spent himself so much, he collapsed, while Harry skillfully repaired the devastation with his new wand. Then he served Ron a strengthening meal in peaceful silence and let him digest the new information first. It was all just a bit much for Ron and would have been for anyone, really, and by his standards he was doing surprisingly well.
During this time, Daphne and Astoria prepared the small office for Ron and put a lot of effort into it. It became very cosy. A small but nice bedroom! Blaise was working on a potion in the basement and I was brooding in the bedroom over my endless research.
In the evening, we all cooked in relative harmony and the Twins returned from work in time for dinner. Ron and Harry turned their backs on the garden into which they had retreated and settled down with us.
"Is Dumbledore evil?" Ron forced himself to ask after some time, silencing all conversation.
"No, Ron, if you mean whether he's like the Dark Lord, then no! He is not evil; he is just not as good as he pretends to be. He's manipulative and absolutely only cares about himself and his goals. He's positively fixated on them, I would say. These... goals he is willing to achieve by any means possible, but he is not evil," I explained.
"Yes, but the evidence Harry showed me... Grindelwald..." he wanted to know more, curiously and inquisitively.
"That may be. I don't know enough about that yet, but that doesn't mean, whatever was then, that he or people in general cannot change. No, I don't think he's evil NOW, and what drives him to defeat the Dark Lord so doggedly is probably due to the past. Look at it this way: The first Dark Lord was his lover, whom he stopped with a heavy heart and then, thanks to Harry, we know that the new Dark Lord was at Hogwarts at a time when Dumbledore was already working there as a teacher and he distrusted the young man and yet he could not stop this student either. Not even during the First War. I think he is rather dogged and maybe also bitter and narrow-minded, but otherwise..." I left it open and shrugged my shoulders.
Ron sank back into deep brooding and Harry agreed with me loudly. You could tell that when the subject turned to Dumbledore he could get really irritated and a slightly bitter expression appeared on his face.
Not everyone knew what we had learned about the Prophecy... None of us did, not even Draco. Although...? I wondered if Harry had told Daphne. I glanced at the couple sitting next to each other, contemplating. Okay, she was almost sitting on his lap... And no, I couldn't believe she knew. I would understand him, they were just starting out. Later on, yes, it would be essential to confess it to her so she knew what she was actually getting into, although I assumed and held the opinion that Daphne, as a native Slytherin, had weighed up very carefully and thoroughly before entering this relationship. Yet, it would be different to learn that fate had spoken about Harry in a final and hopeless way and that his destiny was already written down in black and white.
It seemed that Harry was still very angry about what Dumbledore meant and represented as a person.
"You two have it nice here," Ron now said very carefully to Fred and George, completely out of context.
"Oh ho, thank you, little brother," Fred replied in good humour. He had recently been quite reluctant to show his love to his twin, because Harry hadn't mentioned this topic either. This was something the Red Devils had to tell Ron themselves. The rest of us all kept to it in tacit agreement and kept discreetly silent.
"Yes, thanks to Hermione here we are doing really well," George looked at me gratefully.
"That's... I can understand you. It's beautiful here and I think your business is also great... Ginny loves it too, even if we only saw it from outside! I don't understand what Mum has with the Ministry," Ron shook his head. He hadn't paid any attention to me since I started complaining about Dumbledore, which was probably a good thing. He seemed to need the distance and I was more than willing to give it to him.
I knew, like everyone else, that Harry and Ron spent a long night in the living room after dinner and everyone was amazed at how well Ron was able to control his choleric temper. All right, Daphne had had to heal him a few more times during the day, but as long as he only injured himself or destroyed something that could be repaired, it was no big deal.
Late at night, Draco crawled into our bed, snuggled up against me and whispered in my ear that he had heard Weasel and Potter in the living room, but that they had been talking amazingly calmly. I liked to believe that it did Harry good to reflect with Ron on what had happened to him in the last few weeks. After all, Harry's loss of Sirius had not been so long ago and Ron knew Sirius as well as Harry.
As Harry told me afterwards, that night Ron wanted to know about Harry's feelings and Ron had talked about his changes, why he was behaving and acting so completely different now. He told me how angry he was that everyone was leaving his family. Even he couldn't understand what was so bad about the fact that the Twins had gone into business for themselves and didn't have a degree. And that it still gave him nightmares when he thought about the Ministry and the events of that time. Also that he had registered that it would all become much more dangerous now and he knew he had to and he would fight.
Harry was very impressed that Ron showed himself to be so mature in his thoughts and there the old, deep understanding between the two of them was rebuilt. Ron reaffirmed his statement that he was Harry's man, which not only reassured me but also confirmed that I had done the right thing. Harry was also pleased to see that Ron was not condemning his change to the 'grey side', as I cynically dubbed it, and for that alone, I thought it was worth it. So we all slept peacefully in our beds, and a few of us had fun in our beds too, I thought with a grin.