There’s so much that I want to say…But I don’t even know where to start…
Hermione gripped the railing with her fingers until they turned white. Her head was a mess. The speech that she spent so much time on turned into a mixture of words and phrases. She thought that she was ready. Hermione closed her eyes and drew a deep breath ignoring the panic rising inside of her.
“Are you alright Miss Granger?” A voice behind the tribune called.
“Yes.” She shook her head. “I’m just a little under the weather today.”
“Will you be able to go on?”
Hermione nodded, trying to slow her heart rhythm.
“Tell us, where were you the night of the disappearance?” A woman spoke up.
Hermione cleared her throat to win some time. Wizengamot was the last place on earth where she wanted to be. Her entire being protested against it. All she wished for was to be back in his arms, away from this mess that they’ve caused.
"You can't kill an idea, can you? Not once it's made a home... there." — Sherlock Holmes
Hermione’s body jerked as she heard the door into the apartment open. She threw a quick glance at her notebook before tossing it into a drawer. An empty page except for an ink stain. A waste of time. Hermione put a cheerful expression on her face and walked out of her bedroom.
“You’re back already?” She asked as she watched Ginny and Harry take off their shoes.
“Yeah, it’s snowing heavily, so they closed the rink.” Ginny panted. “What were you up to?”
“Nothing much.” Hermione shook her shoulders. “Read a book, ate dinner. I’ll probably go to bed now.”
“Right.” Ginny nodded with almost a grim expression on her face.
Hermione hated when she looked at her like that. As if she was some charity case, the only orphan of the war that needed to be taken care of. She hated that whenever she mentioned anything that didn’t seem joyful to Ginny or Harry, they’d tiptoe around her for the rest of the evening. Even though she knew that they had the purest intentions at heart, sometimes she felt like she was in daycare. She was as fine as someone whose parents were taken by the war was. Not great, not awful. Just this gray middle feeling.
She hurried back to her room after some small talk. Hermione retrieved the notebook from her drawer and sat on the bed. She already knew that the next few hours would be wasted. Instead of coming up with new ideas she’d just stare into the ceiling, watching her plan unfold, picking every bit of it apart. Just like every single time that she sat down to think for the past five months, she’d tell herself to get the stupid idea out of her head before failing at doing so. But her mind was blank. Once the idea formed and nestled in her head, she was unable to come up with anything else.
“Can I come in?” Ginny’s head appeared in the doorway.
Hermione nodded, tossing her notebook under the blanket in a manner that she hoped looked casual.
“I brought you some chamomile tea to help you sleep.” Ginny set down a mug on the bedside table before sitting next to Hermione.
I stopped having regular nightmares months ago. An occasional scare doesn’t require a nightly cup of tea.
“Thank you.” Hermione smiled, sensing the smell from the cup.
One more night of this and I’ll have nightmares about the goddamn tea.
“Can we talk?” Ginny asked carefully.
The question was genuine. They’ve talked about every single of her worries in the past year. Hermione felt like there wasn’t a single private thought left in her head.
“I’m worried about you.” Ginny started.
Here we go…
Hermione made an effort not to roll her eyes. Every time Ginny wanted to talk about something deeply personal, she’d say these words. It was her small introduction ‘I know that I’m asking too many questions, but I don’t want to seem like an asshole, so I’ll tell you why I’m doing so’ before asking too many questions.
“I know that what happened last year was horrible but-“
“My parents were killed. You can say it.” Hermione interrupted.
“Right...” Ginny sighed. “I don’t want to sound harsh, but you have to keep living. You’ve been mourning for so long that you’re starting to lose yourself.”
“I’m not…” Hermione snapped before pausing to lower her tone. “I’m not mourning anymore. I’m back to living my life.”
“No, no you’re not.” Ginny shook her head. “The Hermione that I know would never spend so much time without doing any sort of work. I don’t remember the last time you left the apartment. You’re pushing people away. Poor Ron is still waiting for you. He’s there if you need any help or company.”
“Maybe I’m just not that person anymore. And I don’t need anyone’s help because there’s no one that can help me bring my parents back.” Hermione breathed out. “And I am working on something at the moment.”
Ginny fiddled with the edge of the blanket not knowing what to say. “Alright, if you say so…” She awkwardly stood up. “Good night, Hermione.”
Hermione huffed as the door to her bedroom closed. She knew that she was acting ungrateful, but she was sick and tired of the treatment that she received. She didn’t need anyone to help her solve her own problems.
Hermione reached to the bottom drawer and took out two newspapers. Her eyes slid across the dates on top of the pages. A year and three months ago was the day that split her life in half. She started her nightly ritual with the Prophet. Hermione already knew each article word by word but was hoping to find some clues that she was missing. Nothing new. The newspaper was full of Ministry’s propaganda, celebration of peace, and very few subtle hints of where some of the remaining Death Eaters could’ve been. She skipped the page dedicated to the Malfoy tragedy. Her parents only got a few lines in the local news, meanwhile, war criminals had a heart-wrenching story about lost legacy and pureblood. It filled her with pure disgust.
“Two hikers found dead in a national forest. Cause of death unknown.” Hermione didn’t bother to read the rest. The muggle papers had even less information than the Prophet. She was certain which curse was used and that it was a job done by a Death Eater. The information was irrelevant. She needed to know the name of that bastard.
The obvious solution came to mind just as always. The obvious and impossible. She tossed it aside, trying to focus on what was important. She wasn’t going to get her parents back, but she will find the killer.
Retrace their steps.
Unsure, she reached for the notebook and picked up a quill.
Step 1. Get to the archives.
The next day
Hermione stepped out of a chimney in the Ministry’s atrium. She fixed a strand of blond hair and mentally thanked the woman that didn’t notice a slight pull on her head during rush hour on the subway. Hermione made her way towards the elevators, noticing that the Ministry was livelier than she remembered.
“Watch where you’re going.” A woman pushed her with her elbow.
Hermione was about to say something when she saw the reason why the atrium was so crowded. The flashes from multiple cameras almost blinded her.
“Is there anything you want to tell us about the night of the incident?” Skeeter was trying to catch up to Draco Malfoy.
He was dressed in all black. A contrast to the colorful crowd. Malfoy was rushing away from Skeeter, who despite her high heels managed to keep up with his pace. Hermione swallowed nervously. She suddenly felt dizzy from the number of people pushing against her.
What was I thinking? How am I even going to get to the archives?
I should’ve stayed at home.
Hermione began to push through the crowd back to the chimneys. This time it was easier since everyone was trying to get a closer look at Malfoy. She was almost stepping inside a chimney when she got shoved away from it.
“Move.” Draco threw a glance at her before disappearing in green flames.
As soon as he was gone the crowd dispersed, leaving her in an almost empty atrium. She ignored a disdainful stare from Skeeter. Once again, Rita let a sensation slip through her fingers and was now looking for someone to blame. Hermione was glad that she changed her appearance before coming to the Ministry. Skeeter would’ve held her captive until she answered all of her questions. And Hermione didn’t feel like explaining her absence since September 98’.
She shook her head, trying to calm herself down. Coming here was a stupid idea. After not leaving the house for so long, (except the occasional grocery run) going to the Ministry that was full of people even on Sundays was not smart.