Eight years post Battle Of Hogwarts
Hermione looked around the crowded room and smiled; it was good to see so many people supporting such a worthy cause. She and Harry had come to Ireland for the UN Women HeForShe event to help support gender equality. The song currently being performed was Hozier’s Cherry Wine; it made Hermione think more about Domestic Violence than it did gender equality.
She looked at Harry and sighed quietly: He still didn’t see that his childhood had been abusive. She wished she could get through to him that what his relatives had done to him wasn’t right in any way. She shook her head and tuned back into the music playing.
I walk my days on a wire.
It looks ugly, but it’s clean,
Oh momma, don’t fuss over me.
She nodded slightly: From the little Harry had said about his childhood, this just about covered it. He’d spent his days and nights frightened and alone, beaten and left to make do the best he could with the little he had, and he hated to have anyone make a fuss over him.
She remembered the look of an 11 year old Harry on the Hogwarts Express: fading bruises, shorter than most of their year mates, far too thin. She could recognize the signs of abuse now that she was older, but when she was 11 she hadn’t: her parents had sheltered her as best they could, and they had definitely loved and cared for her.
Looking back she could see the stark differences between her childhood and her friend’s. She’d had new clothes that actually fit. She didn’t shy away from contact of any kind. She had her books and pictures and later, letters from her family. Harry hadn’t had any of that, except the once: Ron had told her about the one Christmas Harry had seemed surprised to have gotten something from his relatives. Ron had been disgusted by what it was: a used tissue.
Then there had been the time before second year when the Weasley boys had gone to get Harry from where he lived. Hermione scoffed to herself, Harry hadn’t been living, he’d been surviving.
There had been bars on his bedroom window, and his trunk and the rest of his school things had been in a boot cupboard under the stairs. And now that she was thinking about it, hadn’t Fred said that he thought he saw blood on the door? And hadn’t there been an old, small mattress in there that looked like it had seen better days? And a drawing on the door which had said ‘Harry’s room’?
She put her hand out to Harry, knowing better than to touch him without either giving him a warning or letting him initiate the contact. He took her hand and smiled at her, looking grateful that she’d asked him to accompany her: Neither of their spouses would have fit in at the venue or the event. Ron had a rather simplistic view of the world, he wouldn’t recognize domestic abuse unless someone bluntly told him about it, and he would have looked disgusted to see so many men dressed as women. Despite going through the second war with Voldemort, and losing a brother and many friends to the prejudice and fighting, he still preferred to look at the bright side of life, and she couldn’t really blame him. With his job as an auror, he was immersed in the dark side of life more often than he would usually admit.
And Harry’s wife, Pansy! Hermione sighed again. She didn’t know what was going on between the two of them, but she wished Harry would wake up to what was happening and get well away from it!
The evening was soon at an end and they went their separate ways, home to their respective spouses.
Harry landed in the floo room of their home and immediately took his shoes off, walked to his bedroom and lined them up meticulously, toes against the back of the wardrobe in the spot reserved specifically for those particular shoes. He then took off his suit and quietly called for a house elf and handed his clothes to Mimsy so she could clean them before returning them to their specific spot in the wardrobe and dresser. He put his cufflinks and tie pin in the jewelry chest he’d gotten from his family vault, put on his pyjamas, robe and slippers and went to his wife’s room. He hesitated a moment before knocking, then entered when bade to do so.
He walked in with his head down, looking steadily at the floor, then handed Pansy his wand once he was in front of her without saying a word. “Did you touch anybody?” She asked superiorly. After all, she was a pureblood, he was simply a halfblood with no standing in the wizarding world, Golden Boy or not!
“No Pansy,” he said, hesitating slightly.
Pansy narrowed her eyes at her husband, “You lie,” she hissed as she slapped his face. “Now, who was it?”
He didn’t even stumble back at the contact, it had happened often enough that he knew to be ready, “Hermione, Pansy.”
“And just how did you touch her?” She asked belligerently.
Harry sighed, then winced, knowing more punishment would be meted out, “She held my hand Pansy.” He sighed internally. He was just so tired, he didn’t have the strength to fight any more.
“You know what that means Harry,” she sneered as she pointed to the dog cage in the corner, “and put on the gloves!”
Harry’s shoulders slumped as he moved to do as his wife commanded.
As he hunched there in the too small cage, unable to sleep in such an uncomfortable position, he thought about the fundraiser he’d attended that night, and remembered the song Hozier had sung. He wanted to deny his domestic situation very badly, but the words from the song Cherry Wine haunted him.
Her eyes and words are so icy
Oh but she burns
Like rum on the fire
Hot and fast and angry as she can be
I walk my days on a wire.
It looks ugly, but it’s clean,
Oh momma, don’t fuss over me.
The way she tells me I’m hers and she is mine
Open hand or closed fist would be fine
The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine.
His and Pansy’s situation certainly fit. He did love her, and she said she loved him, but he couldn’t do it anymore. He’d spent his childhood being ignored and belittled, now he was spending his adult years being abused physically, emotionally and mentally. He sighed quietly, trying to figure out how to get out of his situation intact.
It had taken several weeks of being housebound and being on his very best behavior, of cleaning until he was exhausted each night, of gardening until he was sunburnt each day, of eating barely enough to maintain the same weight he’d had since the day he’d gotten married five years before, but he’d finally been allowed out into the world agaijn, to go to Diagon Alley to shop for an anniversary present. However, instead of going to Gringotts or the jewellers, he went to the Minstry of Magic. “Can we talk Hermione?” He asked dejectedly once he’d found her, yet sounding strangely hopeful.
She looked at him with a critical eye and saw that not much had changed since he was 17. He was still underweight, he never laughed any more, he rarely smiled…She smiled slightly at him, “Of course Harry, is now good?” He nodded, looking as relieved as he had the day he’d finally been able to kill Voldemort. “Okay, come on to my office then. I’ll put up the privacy wards and we’ll have ourselves a little heart to heart.”
He looked at her, surprised, as he followed her down the hall: He hadn’t known she had figured out what was going on, but he was glad she had, it meant less explaining things on his end, for which he was extremely grateful.
Once her wards were up she began, “So, how long has it been going on, Harry?”
He sighed and slumped in his seat, “Almost since the beginning ‘Mione, and I can’t take it anymore!”
Hermione smiled, relieved to hear him say he couldn’t take the way things were anymore. “What do you want to do Harry?” She asked, her voice filled with concern.
Harry shook his head, “I don’t know anymore Hermione. I used to have big dreams, you know? I used to dream Pansy and I would have a family together, a home filled with love and laughter. I don’t know where it went wrong, but I want out.” His voice was sounding a little stronger by the end of his statement.
“I’m happy to hear that Harry. That you want out, I mean.
I’ve been looking into it since we got back from the last charity event, and since the two of you only have a marriage without the bonding that Ron and I have, you simply have to assert your place as head of House Potter and banish her from your life.”
He sighed dejectedly, “She won’t let me claim it Hermione.”
She looked at him with compassion, but steel was in her voice. She was determined to get Harry away from yet more abuse, even if she had to handle him with kid gloves in order to do so. “Well then, we’ll just have to go to Gringotts and solve that problem before we do anything else, won’t we.” She couldn’t stand abuse of any sort, but to see her best friend so beaten and downtrodden brought out the Mama Bear hiding just beneath the surface.
She stood and held her hand out to her best friend; he reluctantly took it. At the feel of the scabs and scratches on his palm she jerked his hand further towards her and turned it palm up to examine it more closely. She looked up at him angrily, “Harry? What in the world?”
He sighed and tried to jerk his hand back, ashamed to admit how defeated he really was, but Hermione refused to let go. “Well?” She demanded.
“After the benefit, when she found out we’d held hands, she made me wear gloves with stinging and cutting hexes in them,” he said so quietly she barely heard him. “Last night was the last of that particular punishment.”
“Oh Harry,” she said compassionately as she pulled him in for a gentle hug. She dismissed the fact he noticeably stiffened at the contact, knowing that he associated it with more punishment, but she resolved to herself that that was now at an end. She’d take care of him herself if she had to! Then what he’d said registered in her brain and her head snapped up, “You were punished for holding my hand?” He nodded tiredly, he really didn’t want to go into the specifics of what his life was like. He’d rather just forget about it and go on with his life.
“Right,” Hermione said as she swiped a hand across suspiciously wet eyes. “I’m sorry about that Harry. If I’d known…” The last of her sentence was muffled by Harry’s shirt as he pulled her into a hug so tight she could barely breathe.
“Don’t Hermione, just don’t,” he said, sounding suspiciously like he was crying as well. He let her go and they turned their backs to each other to wipe the tears and straighten themselves before they had to face the world agian.
Three Years Later
A sharp cry rung out in the room as the wee body of a newborn child was subjected to the evil that is the world outside its mother’s body. Harry was smiling so wide his cheeks were hurting, and Ginny looked more tired than he’d ever felt in his life, but she was smiling as well
“You have a son, Harry,” the medi-witch proclaimed once the umbilical chord was cut and the child was being cleaned and checked over.
Harry’s smile grew impossibly wider, “a son Gin! You’ve given me a son!” He exclaimed before giving the mother of his child a kiss on the forehead.
Ginny smiled tiredly and yawned. “What’ll we name him?”
“I know we’ve gone through all the naming books. And I thought we’d settled on a name,” he said as he looked lovingly at his first born. “But, well,” he continued nervously. He had no reason to be nervous, but every parent is nervous naming their child, wondering if the name will fit. “How about James Sirius after my dad and godfather?”
Ginny was almost asleep, but she smiled, “James Sirius it is then.” She then drifted off to sleep as her husband looked on lovingly as he held their son.