Harry’s eyes narrowed as he stared at Grace. “What do you mean, you cast that spell on her!” he asked tightly.
Grace looked back up at him, and then widened her eyes. “Oh my God! You don’t’ think I…. I would NEVER cast a curse like that on anyone!” she pulled her arm from Harry’s grip. “I can’t cast a spell that powerful!” she lowered her voice. “Catherine never told you did she? I’m a Squib.”
“You’re a Squib?” Harry asked disbelievingly. Grace nodded.
“I had just come into my powers as a witch when I met Cath…” she began, but a loud scream cut her off. Grace and Harry both whirled around, the scream had come from the room Catherine was currently residing in. Two medi-wizards dashed into the room, and Grace pushed Harry down on the bench just outside the door.
“Stay here a moment, we’ll see what’s wrong with her…” Grace said, slipping into her professional nurse voice. She didn’t give Harry a chance to argue as she slipped inside, pulling out her wand. The two medi-wizards were already pointing theirs at Catherine, and she joined in as a mild subduing spell was cast. Catherine immediately relaxed and stopped whimpering.
“Will you stay with her Grace?” one of them asked. “We need someone to monitor the spell and make sure it stays on for awhile.”
“Sure.” Grace nodded. The two medi-wizards left the room and Harry quickly entered.
“What’s wrong?” he asked immediately.
“She was having a nightmare.” Grace said sadly, stroking her friend’s hair away from her sweaty forehead.
“Is she all right?” Harry asked, moving to the other side of the bed and taking up one of Catherine’s hands.
“She will be. We’ve just cast a mild subduing spell on her so she will relax.”
Harry nodded. “Okay.” He looked down at Catherine, he wished so much he could take away whatever pain she was feeling.
Grace watched Harry for a while as he sat by the bedside. “Do you love her?” she asked, out of the blue.
Harry looked up, startled. “Of course I do.” He replied after a moment.
“I mean,” Grace continued. “Do you love her, or do you love her because you think she is your wife?”
“It’s a little of both.” Harry said honestly. “I told her this, I was attracted to her at first because she resembles Hermione so much. But these last few weeks, I’ve realized it doesn’t’ matter anymore if she is or not. Do I still think she is my wife? Absolutely, especially now.”
“What do you think will happen now?” Grace asked quietly. “I mean, with Draco Malfoy…” she shuddered to think she had found him attractive. “I can’t believe what he did to her!” tears once again sprang to her eyes and she sniffed as she brushed them away.
“Well, my friend Ron is handling it right now, but I assume he’ll go to trial and be sent to Azkaban.” Harry said, unflinching. Grace said nothing more on the issue; she and Harry sat in a silence for a long while. Harry was almost falling asleep when he felt a slight pressure on his hand.
“Cath?” Grace asked, seeing her friend’s eyes open. Harry was immediately on his feet.
“Where am I?” Catherine asked groggily.
“You’re at St. Mungos.” Harry answered gently. Grace pulled out her wand.
“Accio water!” she said, and a glass with a pitcher of water came flying into the room. “Here, drink some.” Grace said, pouring Catherine a glass. She gladly accepted it, and drank it quickly.
“Thanks Grace, that’s so much better.” Catherine said, her voice stronger. Grace took a deep breath.
“Look, Cath…I have something I need to tell you, it’s about this whole…situation. I just hope after hearing it you won’t hate me.” Grace said, her voice quavering.
“What do you mean?” Catherine asked, sitting up against the pillows. She looked at Harry. “What is going on?”
“I don’t know.” Harry answered. They both looked at Grace, who felt as if she was up in front of a firing squad.
“Before I start, just please, let me tell you, don’t interrupt.” Grace said. “I’ve already told you both that I’m a Squib. I was just coming into the wizarding world about nine years ago, and became a nurse here. I had taken a little trip back into Muggle London, along the Thames, when I saw you, Cath. You almost fell into the river, this guy was pulling you back, and you were fighting him off like he was going to harm you.” Grace took a deep breath, and continued. “By the time I rushed up to you, he was long gone, I don’t know who he was or what became of him. But you were twitching and God, so beaten up. I knew I had to do something, so I took you here, to St. Mungos. You had no identification on you, nothing to say who you were, and you were barely conscious. We fixed you up, but you slept for about four days straight.” Grace grabbed the glass and filled it back up with water, then gulped some down.
“You kept mumbling things, sometimes even crying out. I sat there with you most nights, and after the third night I finally was able to piece together that you had been horribly abused by someone. What I didn’t know is who did it, and if he was still looking for you or not.” Grace paused a moment and bit her lower lip. “I didn’t want you to be hurt anymore…so with the limited knowledge and spells I had, I performed a memory charm on you.” Grace’s red-rimmed eyes spilled over as she tried to finish her tale. “I knew whoever was hurting you was searching for you, he would still recognize you, so I lengthened and darkened your hair and changed your skin color…I didn’t want anything to happen, and if I had known about today ahead of time, I’d have filled you in sooner, I swear….” Grace trailed off, too upset with herself to continue talking.
Harry sat back in the chair, stunned by Grace’s revelation. He had had her pegged completely wrong. Catherine was also speechless, and Grace looked up at her, her eyes pleading with Catherine to understand.
“I really thought I was doing what was best…” Grace could only offer this as her final plea. “I am so sorry Cath…”
Catherine was silent for a few moments while she tried to process the information in her weary mind.
“Grace…” she said a few moments later, moving her other hand forward on top of Grace’s. “I’m not mad at you.”
“You’re not?” Grace asked, looking up hopefully. Catherine shook her head and sat up more in the bed, Harry was sitting back, letting the two women work things out amongst themselves.
“I mean, I have a bit of a hard time understanding why you could never tell me, but I do understand why you did it.”
“Really?” Grace asked. She let out a small sniff. “How could you not hate me?”
“Grace…” Catherine began. “I think of it this way, you were only trying to protect me, you have been the only one I trusted fully for the last nine years.” She sat back again. “Besides, if you were out to hurt me you’d have done it by now.” She grinned despite the seriousness of the situation.
Grace smiled back wryly then threw her arms around Catherine in an exaggerated hug.
“You’re just the most understanding person, and the best friend I’ve ever had!” Grace wailed.
“Grace…can’t…breathe…” Catherine managed to say before Grace cut off her air supply.
“Oh I’m sorry!” she gasped.
“It’s all right.” Catherine said.
“Listen, I’m going to go talk to the medi-wizards about when you can leave here ok? I’ll be back in a little bit.” Grace said.
“All right. Thanks.” Catherine smiled back at her. Grace walked out the door.
“I’ll be right back.” Harry said. He followed Grace out the door and down the hall a little.
“Grace.” He said, and she turned around. “Look, I wanted to apologize for accusing you earlier.” Harry ran a hand through his dark hair. “I shouldn’t’ have jumped to conclusions like that, and I’m really sorry.”
“It’s all right Harry.” Grace said. “I understand.” She squeezed his arm gently and they smiled at each other, then she continued down the hall to the offices while he returned to Catherine’s room.
“Where did you go?” she asked.
“Just to apologize to Grace.” He replied, resuming his seat next to her bed.
“Why?” she was curious.
“Well, I sort of jumped to conclusions with her earlier, when she was talking about casting a spell on you. I all but came right out and accused her of being in league with Draco…then she told me she was a Squib…” Harry was terribly embarrassed at his behavior.
“Oh…is everything okay then?” she asked.
“Yes, everything is fine. How are you feeling? Are you okay?” he asked, mentally smacking himself for not asking sooner.
“I’m all right.” She said. “I mean, I’m a bit emotionally drained at the moment, but I’ll be fine.”
Harry reached for her hand and grasped it firmly in his own. “I know you will.” He leaned over to kiss her, but a knock on the doorway interrupted him.
Ron stood there, looking a bit ashamed at interrupting them. “Sorry…” he said, grimacing a bit.
“It’s all right Ron.” Harry said, sitting back but not letting go of Catherine’s hand. Ron entered the room and stood by the bed.
“How are you feeling?” he asked Catherine.
“I’m okay.” She answered. “Just trying to recoup, you know?”
Ron nodded kindly at her, and then turned to Harry.
“I’ve got a bit of bad news mate…” he said. He sighed and sat down in the other vacant chair.
“What’s that?” Harry asked.
“Malfoy…he’s got grounds to press charges against you.” Ron said.
“What?” Harry said angrily. “Why does he get ANY rights – he used an Unforgivable Curse Ron!”
“I know!” Ron said. “But you also beat the shit out of him Harry, before you brought him to the Ministry.”
“He deserved it!” Harry snapped. Catherine’s eyes grew wide and she paled.
“They aren’t…. they won’t let him go will they?” her voice raised a few octaves in panic.
“No!” Ron said quickly. “He’s been put in a holding cell, he doesn’t get a trial, but a hearing,” he looked towards Catherine. “You have to testify, to prove he did this to you.”
“Testify?” She looked puzzled. “What do you mean, prove he did this to me? Doesn’t my rush of sudden memories prove everything?”
“Well yes, that’s exactly it.” Ron sighed again. “We have a contraption that fits to your eyes, and you simply have to think of a certain memory, and it will show like a Muggle movie projector. The Ministry needs to see it for themselves.”
Catherine swallowed hard. “When does this take place?” she asked.
“Two days from now.” Ron replied. He looked at her intently. “Do you think you’ll be up to it?”
She nodded. “I will.”
“What do I do in the meantime?” Harry asked. Ron looked back up at him.
“Leave everything to me. I will talk to Malfoy today, in fact, when I leave here. I’ll reason with him…” Ron made a face as if the thought of reasoning with Draco Malfoy left a sour taste in his mouth. “As much as you CAN reason with a Malfoy…but when I’m done with him, he won’t be pressing anything.”
Harry nodded. “Thanks Ron.” The two men shook hands, and Ron left. A few moments later, Grace came back into the room.
“Great news, the medi-wizards said you can leave tomorrow morning!” she announced. “As long as you get a lot of sleep tonight.”
“No problems there.” Catherine said. “I’m completely exhausted.”
“Well, I’ve been authorized to give you a sleeping draught if you like.” Grace said, producing a small vial in her hand.
“Do you think you need it?” Harry asked, smoothing her hair back from her forehead.
“I suppose it couldn’t hurt.” Catherine replied.
“It’s also made for dreamless sleep, so you’ll be out all night.” Grace said. She pulled the stopper out of the top and handed it to Catherine.
“Perfect.” She said. Tipping her head back, she swallowed it quickly.
“Do you want me to stay?” Harry asked. “I will.”
“No, you don’t have to.” Catherine replied. “Go and get a good night’s rest yourself, you can’t be too comfortable in that chair.”
Harry nodded, then leaned forward and kissed her gently. “I’ll be back first thing in the morning, I promise.”
“Okay…” she smiled sleepily as the potion took effect, and not a second later, she was sleeping soundly.
Harry and Grace quietly left the room, shutting the door firmly behind them.
Meanwhile, Ron had just arrived back at the Ministry, he strode down the hallway to the holding cell where Draco was. The holding cell was of the tightest security, with charms and spells preventing anyone inside from casting any spells or apparating away.
“Malfoy.” Ron said coldly.
“What do you want Weasel?”
“Grow up, for one thing!” Ron snapped. “We haven’t been in school for about 12 years now, and you still hang onto this pathetic grudge against Harry.”
Malfoy stood up; he was almost nose to nose with Ron. “Have Potter take away your family and all your money and belongings, and see how much you like him then.”
“You were in league with Voldemort!” Ron almost shouted. “What did you expect him to do?”
Malfoy smirked and sat back down. “What do you want, Weasley?”
“I want you to drop your charges against Harry.” Ron said, not beating around the bush.
“Why should I do that?” Malfoy hissed. He pointed to his eye and his lip. “Look what that asshole did to me!”
“You deserved it.” Ron said flatly.
Malfoy’s face twisted into an ugly grimace and he stood up like he was going to hit Ron.
“Sit down!” Ron snapped. “I don’t suppose you’ve heard what is going to happen to you because of this!”
Malfoy said nothing, but glared at Ron dangerously.
“You’re going to Azkaban…” Ron announced, trying to keep the glee out of his voice. “You like the dementors, Malfoy? You ever feel like kissing one? Cause you’ll get your chance now…”
Real fear flitted through Malfoy’s features for the first time.
“That’s right. The Kiss, given to all who perform Unforgivable Curses.” Ron said, circling Malfoy. “Your father can’t get you out of this one can he?”
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed. “Are you implying my father was my only protector?”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Yes, I am. You were never able to do anything on your own, even when you and Harry faced off before he went on to defeat Voldemort, it was only because your father shot a curse at Harry that you were able to run off and hide.”
Malfoy rocketed off his chair and flew at Ron. “You leave my father out of this!”
Ron pushed him away roughly. “I’m tired of talking to you!” he barked. “I came here for one thing, to make a deal with you.”
“Right.” Malfoy smirked. “Like I want to make any sort of deal with YOU.”
“Shut up and listen!” Ron snapped. “I can stop the Ministry from administering the kiss on you, but only if you’ll not press charges against Harry. You’ve done enough to him, and to Hermione.”
“What makes you think I’d believe you?” Malfoy shouted. Ron glared at him, and walked over to the door to the holding cell, stuck his hand outside, and snapped his fingers. A glowing piece of parchment appeared in his outstretched hand.
“Magic contract.” Ron said shortly. “Once it’s signed it can’t be broken.”
Malfoy was silent once more, glaring at Ron through his pale eyes.
Ron was losing all patience. “Fine, you press charges, you STILL go to Azkaban, and you get the Kiss. Sign this, and you only go to Azkaban for life…you can’t get out of that one.” Malfoy still said nothing. Ron stared at him in hatred for a long moment.
“You really disgust me.” Ron said. He spat in Draco’s face and turned to leave the cell, when a weak voice called out.
* * *
“Thank you Harry.” Catherine said as he held open the door to his flat. “Thank God I’m out of that hospital, I do so hate being in one.”
“Would you like some tea or something?” Harry asked, closing the door behind him.
“That would be great, thanks.” She replied. Catherine followed him into the kitchen and sat down at the table while he quickly zapped two mugs of hot water and put the tea in them.
“So what did you want to come over for?” Harry asked, sipping his tea.
Catherine sat back in her chair and looked pensive for a moment. “Well, I have something I wanted to tell you…” she pursed her lips for a moment. “I hope it doesn’t sound too ridiculous, but with the events of yesterday…”
“What is it?” Harry asked, looking concerned. “Is it more of what Malfoy did to you?”
“No, this, well, it was two occasions really, they both happened last week.” She replied, a bit hesitantly, and then flushed pink. “Well, the first, I guess you could call it a vision, that I had, it was when you came over the day you moved in, with the buttercup. Remember how I got really dizzy and had to sit down?”
“Yes, I do.” Harry said.
“Well, that was the first flash I had.” Her face flushed even redder as she continued. “In it, I was pregnant, and reading a book, and you came in…you had a buttercup and in it was a ring…” she said, not wanting to look up at him. “Then, the second one was a dream, where we were on a beach, and Caitlyn was a baby, I know this because in my dream I called her Caty Cat, just like you do, and then you came over and sat with us…” she knew she was rambling, but she was nervous. She finally looked up and Harry was staring at her.
“You are…” he said so softly she wasn’t sure at first if he had spoken or not.
“What?” she asked.
“You have to be her…” Harry said. “How else would you know how I proposed?”
She shrugged in confusion. “I don’t know, I…” she was cut off by a large whoop from Harry.
“You are Hermione!” Harry shouted happily, and pulled her up from the chair. He grabbed her around the waist and spun her around the kitchen. She felt rather lighthearted as he set her back down and hugged her tightly.
“Really?” she asked, finding her voice. “Those were real memories?”
“Yes, they were.” Harry said, smiling down at her, happy tears sparkling in her eyes. He bent down and pressed his lips to hers gently, nudging open her mouth with his tongue. She flattened her palms against his chest to feel his strength, and he wrapped his arms around her tighter.
“ARGH!” Harry cried in frustration as a knock echoed throughout his apartment. She heaved a disappointed sigh as well and followed him to the door. Harry pulled it open to reveal Ron.
“What Ron?” Harry almost barked. Ron looked put out for a moment, and then pushed him aside.
“Malfoy’s not pressing charges.” Ron said immediately. “He’s signed a contract, meaning he’s not getting the Kiss, but he still is going to Azkaban.”
Harry nodded. “I’m glad to hear that.” Ron turned to Catherine.
“Look, I was asked to come over and well, prep you for tomorrow.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“The contraption that you’ll have to use tomorrow, I already told you how it works right?” He asked and Catherine nodded. “Well, it sounds a lot easier than it looks. The machine runs on your energy, you’ll be feeling quite weak when you leave tomorrow. If there was any other way to prove Malfoy was the one, I’d use it but there isn’t.” Ron looked apologetic.
“It’s all right.” Catherine said. “I can handle it, I promise.”
“I’ll be right there with you.” Harry promised. He brought one hand up around her waist and pulled her close to him. He saw Ron look away and roll his eyes for a moment, and then the two men grinned at each other.
“Well, seeing as how that’s out of the way, would the two of you like to come over for dinner later?” Ron asked.
Harry looked at Catherine, who nodded. “Sure, we’d love to.” Harry said. “What time?”
“Say around five.” Ron replied. He looked at the two of them with an evil gleam in his eye. “I can see myself out.” He smirked in Harry’s direction and left.
Harry turned back to Catherine with a gleam in his eye. “Where were we?” he asked, pulling her up against him tightly.
“Right about here…” she said, sliding her hand around to the back of his neck and pulling his head down to hers. He kissed her hard, and she gently stroked his bottom lip with her tongue. He opened his mouth to receive her gladly, and ran one hand up and down her back, while the other tangled itself into her silken hair. Harry picked her up and sat her on the hall table, pressing his mouth harder against hers. She responded eagerly, pushing back as hard as she could, taking her hands and caressing her way down his chest to his pants. She fumbled with the button for a moment, then finally freed it and began to tug down the zipper when Harry stopped her.
“Wait…wait just a minute…” he said, flushing red. Harry leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers. “I think we might be going just a little fast here…”
“I don’t mind.” Catherine said softly but boldly. He chuckled and drew her to him, stroking her long hair gently.
“You know, I was thinking…” Harry said after a long silence. “Maybe you don’t need to take that potion after all.”
“Why do you say that?” Catherine asked, pulling back and looking up at him.
“Well you’re remembering a lot of things now aren’t you…” Harry began but she interrupted him.
“Well, I really only had two memory flashes. All the things I have remembered since yesterday had to do with what that horrible man did to me, there’s really nothing before that.” She said as gently as possible. “Besides, I want to remember everything about my life, not just a few things.”
“I see.” Harry said, and smiled down at her. “As long as you’re sure.”
“I am sure, I’m absolutely positive.” She said, sliding off the table. “If we’re to make it to your friend Ron’s house for dinner, I have to go get ready.”
“All right.” Harry said, walking her over to the door. “Just come on back here when you’re ready and we can head over.”
She kissed him goodbye. “See you in a bit!”
* * *
They had had a very pleasant evening at Ron and Lavender’s, Harry was happy to see Catherine smiling and happy, since he knew tomorrow would be very difficult for her. When Harry had left her at her flat just a quarter of an hour ago, he had hugged her tightly and assured her once more that he’d help her face whatever came her way tomorrow. Now as he settled into bed himself, he began to grow a bit anxious, he knew now that there was no doubt she was Hermione, but he was more nervous about if the potion was made correctly for her to take. He sighed impatiently and brushed his worries aside the best he could, he trusted Ron to make sure everything was done right. With those thoughts in mind, he fell asleep.
**** Next Day****
“Come in!” Catherine called as a knock sounded on her bedroom door. Grace peeked in through the opening.
“Are you almost ready?” she asked.
“Yes, I just need to find my white shirt…” Catherine pulled it triumphantly from her closet, slipped it on and buttoned it up.
“Are you sure you’re going to be all right today?” Grace asked.
“Honestly? No, I’m not sure. I just want to get this whole day over with.” Catherine said, pulling her hair back off her face and securing it with a band.
“I don’t blame you.” Grace said sympathetically. “Harry came by while you were in the shower, he said he’d meet us over at the Ministry. Something about having to go early to check things over with Ron.”
“All right.” Catherine replied. “Well, let’s go, let’s get this over with.” She and Grace apparated out their flat and over to the front steps of the Ministry.
FLASH! Catherine blinked as a light bulb went off in her face. She reeled back and almost fell down but Grace steadied her.
“You must be Catherine Beaumont, tell the Daily Prophet, why are you pressing charges against Mr. Draco Malfoy?” a pointy blond woman shoved a wizard recording device at her.
“I uh…” Catherine stammered.
“She’s not answering any questions!” Grace snapped loudly, and she shoved the device away from the two women. She and Catherine hurried up the stairs away from the bright hungry eyes of the reporters.
“Thanks Grace.” Catherine breathed. “That was a bit scary.”
“Are you two all right?” Harry asked, striding up to them. “I was going to meet you outside but you’re early.”
“We’re fine.” Grace said, speaking for both of them. “I’m going to go sit inside the hearing room ok?” she squeezed Catherine’s hand in support and walked away.
Harry already seemed to know not to ask her once more if she was all right. He took her by the hand and led her down the hall. “We’re going to keep you in a separate room until the hearing begins in case any of the press gets in here.”
“Sounds good to me.” Catherine said. “I could use some piece and quiet before this all begins.”
Harry smiled and opened a door for her. “After you.” He said.
She entered the room; it was a comfortable beige color with a long sofa inside. Catherine sat down and patted the spot beside her. “Are you going to stay with me?”
“If you like.” Harry replied, shutting the door behind him. He sat down next to her and stretched his legs out in front of him. “Did you sleep okay last night?”
“I suppose so.” She replied. “You?”
Harry smirked. “Not really…” he was interrupted by Ron entering the room.
“Well, I think we’re just about set. Malfoy’s being brought in now, and the contraption is ready for you.” He nodded in Catherine’s direction. “If for any reason you get too weak to use it, let us know, and we’ll turn it off.”
“Okay.” She sighed and stood up, Harry coming up behind her. The three of them silently entered the large room, where a large number of people gathered. It was set up like a Muggle courtroom, albeit there was no jury, just the new Minister of Magic, Neville Longbottom. Harry was surprised to see this, but very happy for his old Hogwarts friend. Neville nodded to Harry and Catherine (Ron had filled him in on the situation) and they all took their seats. Catherine was careful not to look in Draco Malfoy’s direction, in case any new memories should rush over her. What she had to do today was damaging enough to her mind.
Neville banged a gavel loudly on his stand. “Silence!” his voice was magnified throughout the room, reminding Harry greatly of Dumbledore in his first year with the troll. “The hearing and conviction of one Draco Malfoy will now begin!” Neville nodded to Ron.
“Okay,” Ron said, lifting up the contraption. “This goes on so you can see through it with your eyes, just strap it onto the back of your head.” With Harry’s help they fastened it on securely. Ron reached to the back of it and hit a small button. “When you think of a memory, just squeeze this panel and the projection will start.”
Catherine nodded and took a few deep breaths to steady herself. She willed one of the memories that had so recently sprouted in her mind to come forth, and squeezed the panel. The projector roared to life.
(Okay, if anyone gets bothered by any scenes of suffering such as the flashback about to take place, scroll down to where you see a line like this:
~*~*~*~*~*~ And you will know when to start reading again.)
Harry watched the screen set up as a dank stone dungeon came into view. He felt his insides tighten as he saw the picture turn to a woman who was sprawled on the floor, dressed in nothing but rags. He bit down on his lower lip as he recognized Hermione’s face, which at the time was rather badly bruised. Her lip was swollen, and her one eye was half shut from injuries. The door on the opposite end of the room swung open and a younger Draco Malfoy entered.
“Ahhh…. awake I see.” He snarled cruelly. Malfoy walked right up to her and pulled her up by her long hair. She cried out and he struck her so hard that the entire audience watching the screen recoiled in horror.
“You think I’ll be nice to you just because you can’t remember who you are?” he spat, throwing her back down to the ground. He kicked her hard in the stomach and she screamed in pain and curled up in a fetal position.
“Hungry, mudblood?” he leaned close to her. “Wish you had something to eat?” he sneered as she turned and tried to look up at him through one eye.
“Please?” her voice came out soft and trembling. “Please may I have something to eat?” Malfoy shouted out loud and backhanded her again.
“You really think I’d do that?” he hissed, bringing his face close to hers once more. “You think I want to make anything comfortable for you?” he sat back and smiled evilly at her. “It’s not enough my curse made you forget about everything, no, my revenge is only starting….”
This memory faded out, and a new one took place. This time Hermione was sitting up against the wall, looking peaked but stronger, she was still rather badly bruised and beaten, but there was a gleam in her eye that hadn’t been there before. The audience watched in horror and disgust as she leaned over and lapped up water like a dog from a puddle on the dirty floor. She sat back up quickly when the door banged open and Malfoy once again entered. Hermione forced her eyes to droop, and she slouched down against the wall.
“Get up Mudblood…” he said, grabbing her thin arm and hauling her up like a rag doll. The chain pulled against her arm from the other direction, and Malfoy pushed her hard against the wall. He snarled at her and turned to walk to the other side of the dungeon. “I hate breathing the same air as you Mudblood.”
Hermione quickly pulled out a long metal like pin and deftly unhooked the chain, then the other ones that kept her other arm and legs attached to the wall. She picked up one of the rusty metal bars from what used to be out of her reach and snuck up behind Draco, then beaned him hard on the head with it. He slumped to the ground, and then the screen went blank.
Catherine was visibly shaking as Harry and Ron quickly removed the contraption from her head. Tears streaked down her face and her lower lip trembled, and Harry gathered her in his arms.
“Shhh…” he consoled her. “It’s all over now, all over.”
Everyone in the room was staring at Malfoy with a look of loathing. Ron stepped up to the front of the room and cleared his throat.
“On behalf of Mr. Harry Potter, I have cut a deal with Draco Malfoy. He has signed the contract not to press any charges if we do not administer the Kiss to him.” Ron leaned forward and spoke quietly to Neville. “He still goes to Azkaban for life, however, he can not come back and try to exact his revenge on Harry anymore.”
Neville agreed to the contract as well, and banged his gavel once more on his podium. “Draco Malfoy,” he said as he glared down at him. “You are sentenced to life in Azkaban for the use of an Unforgivable Curse. However, since you have agreed to the contract not to press charges against Harry Potter for assault, the Kiss will not be administered to you.” Neville waved at two guards standing in the corner. “They will be escorting you in now.”
Draco went with them wordlessly, however, when he passed by Harry and Catherine, he raised his head and glared at the two of them, the poison in his eyes darting out at the two of them. Harry expected Catherine to back away but she firmly stood her ground, tears and all, and glared right back at him. Her lip curled slightly in disgust, and she clenched Harry’s hand tightly as Draco was led away to face his new life.
“I hope he rots in Hell.” Catherine said tightly as she turned to face Harry. “I don’t ever want to go through that again.” Harry gathered her in his arms.
“You won’t have to, ever again.” Harry said. “It’s over now, it truly is, I promise.”
“Can you promise?” She asked, a bit more harshly than she intended to. “If it’s happened once it can happen again!” Harry looked stricken at her words. “Look, I’m sorry, that wasn’t meant for you.” She said, feeling sorry. “I’m just feeling so damned angry right now…”
“It’s all right.” Harry said. “Look, let’s go find you a punching bag or something.” He took her by the arm and led her back down the hall. “I say we slip out the back way and apparate so we don’t have to face the reporters again.”
“Sounds good to me.” Catherine said. They began to make their way out the back door when Ron’s shout stopped them.
“Wait!” he said breathlessly, running up to them. He bent over a moment with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath. “Potion’s ready.”
“What?” Harry said, looking at him. “I thought you said it still had a few more days to go!”
Ron shook his head. “One of the potions masters here sped up the process. It’s ready.” Both he and Harry looked at Catherine.
“I want to take it.” she said immediately. “I want to take it today.”
“You don’t want to rest up for a few days?” Harry asked. “Once the potion is ready it’ll stay fine if you want to wait.”
“Harry, I can’t stand not remembering anymore. With everything that has happened in the last few weeks, I just want to know. I’ve been as content as I can be with no past for the last nine years, and now I want to know.” Catherine said firmly.
“Okay then.” Ron said after a moment. “Well, you need to come downstairs, the potion is rather strong and will most likely knock you out for a few days.” He held open a strong glass door for them and after a few moments came to a nice comfortable room, set up with a bed, chairs, adjoining bathroom and such. “You can crash in here, we can send for some of your clothing if you like.”
“I can have Grace bring something over.” Catherine said. “I want Harry to stay here.”
“Yes ma’am.” Harry said, mock saluting her. She rolled her eyes.
“Funny.” She sighed then and sat on the bed.
“I’ll have the potion sent down in about ten minutes.” Ron said. He caught Harry’s eye and seemed to understand something, for then he said, “You know, perhaps I’ll just go get it myself.” He exited the room and Harry smiled after him.
“I hope I remember everything…” Catherine said, getting back up and crossing the room to where Harry was standing. “I do mean everything…” she traced one finger down the length of his torso and looked up into his eyes.
“Me too.” Harry said softly. “More than anything…” He brought his forehead down to rest on hers, looking at her now closed eyes. “I’ll still love you either way.”
She opened her eyes in surprise and looked at him. “What did you say?”
“I said that I love you.” Harry said, a bit nervous. “I have since I was eighteen years old.”
“Harry…” she said, tears now sparkling in her eyes. “I love you too…” she brought her face up to his and kissed him gently, closing her eyes and causing the tears to spill down her face. He pulled his lips from hers and kissed them away, then brought his mouth back and nearly took her breath away with his gentleness and passion. She wrapped her arms around his neck so she could be as close as possible to him. He kissed her now without restraint, their tongues clashing and dancing while their mouths attacked one another without the slightest regard for the spectacle they were making for Ron and the potions master that had accompanied him.
“Ahem.” Ron cleared his throat and the two of them jumped apart guiltily. Harry flushed crimson while Catherine tried to straighten out her shirt.
“Ambir here is the potions mistress that sped up the brewing process. Ruddy genius.” Ron said after they had finished straightening up. “She came down to make sure everything goes okay when you take it.” he said, nodding to Catherine.
“Great.” She said. Ambir smiled at her kindly.
“You’ll probably want to get on the bed first, this will knock you right off your feet most likely.” Ambir said. “You’ll be asleep for a few days while your memories come back to you. Gives the brain a chance to recuperate.” Catherine nodded, a bit nervous now. She held her hand out to Harry, who came to the bedside and took it immediately.
“Take it all in one gulp.” Ambir advised, pulling the cork off the long twisted vial. “It’s horrible tasting and you’ll never get it down otherwise.”
“Okay…” her voice trembled a little as she took the vial. “Well…. here goes.” She tipped back her head and swallowed the contents quickly. Her head fell back against the pillow heavily, and Harry immediately shot out his hand to stroke her face.
“It’ll be okay…”
* * *
It had been two days since Catherine had taken the potion. Harry had refused to leave the room, it had been hard enough for Ron to convince Harry to even make a run to the bathroom much less get him to come up and take a breath of fresh air. Grace had stopped by frequently, bringing new clothes for Catherine and sitting with Harry. The two of them had talked a lot over the time they waited by the bed and Harry felt forever grateful to her for being such a wonderful friend.
“I wonder how much longer she’ll be out.” Harry said, stretching his frame but not letting go of her hand.
“Hopefully not much longer.” Grace replied. “I have to leave, I have to work tonight and I still need to go home and get ready.”
“I’ll find you if she wakes.” Harry said. Grace hugged him goodbye and left.
He let his weary head rest on the side of the bed; he’d hardly slept a wink in about three days.
She cracked her eyes open, her vision was rather blurred, all she could make out was the pale gray color of the room. Shadowy shapes made out a doorframe on the other side of the room. She tried to sit up; something was holding her one hand down. A sudden movement made her look up.
“Who are you?” she asked.