You know, I've been through a lot in my 27 years of living. But I've made it out pretty well, if I say so myself. But whatever it was that hit me, it feels like I got run over by a double-decker bus for crying out loud!
I slowly came to. The first thing I noticed was the smell of the room. Sanitized. Clean.
Oh God, I'm in St. Mungo's.
Don't get me wrong. The Hospital serves its purpose. But I hate coming here. I absolutely hate it.
I looked at who was in the room. Luna and Tonks were sitting in a chair by my bed. Then I saw someone that I hadn't seen in forever. Hermione had her nose in a book, sitting near the sink in the room.
"Hey guys." was what I said weakly. How long had I been out? What the bloody Hell happened?
Where was my wife?
"Glad to see you're awake, Ron." was what Hermione said as she came over to my bed.
Hermione, for the last four years, has been pursuing a dream of building the ultimate library. Fitting, honestly. She's always had her nose in a book. Honestly she'd probably do that than anything else.
But aside from that, she's also been serving as a lawyer for the Justice system.
That's when Tonks stepped forward.
"You and Daphne were ambushed by Longbottom. You've been out of it for two days."
I did a brief check to make sure all my limbs were still intact. Yep, they're still here. At least he didn't summon giant spiders to attack us.
Oh crap. Daphne. Where's Daphne?
I was about to ask that when Tonks said, "Ron, we've got some bad news."
I had cut myself free of all those wires they had hooked up to me and walked into my wife's room. Malfoy was in there, stoned faced.
Sitting next to him was my dear sister-in law, Astoria, equally solemn. I didn't even feel a shiver down my spine like I normally do around her.
My wife was in a coma. She lost a lot of blood on the scene. Daphne was nearly dead by the time we were found.
That bastard. He hurt the woman I love. I'll kill him. I'll turn him into carrion. I will make him pay.
7 years ago, The Leaky Cauldron
I walked in with Luna, looking the place over. I didn't see any noticeable threats. It's a force of habit really. They beat that into your head in basic Auror Training.
"Alright Luna. You got me here. So who's this friend of yours you want to me?" I asked. I wonder who it is?
"Patience, Ron. You'll see in a minute." was her reply. The suspense was killing me.
We finally came up to a woman. A woman I haven't seen since Hogwarts.
"Ron, I want you to meet Daphne. She works with the Aurors too."
"Weasley, I am so sorry."
I turned to face Malfoy. I couldn't detect any hint of a lie in his words. So I said what I thought I'd never say.
I turned back to my wife and kissed her on the forehead. I refused to cry. I had a job to do. Neville would pay for this.
"Let's get this son of a bitch." said Astoria firmly.
"Alright. The killing's started in the year 2000. What the hell happened to make Neville snap that year?" I demanded as I paced in front of the white board we had.
The spare office was now crowded. Tonks, Hermione, Luna, Malfoy and Astoria were all frantically searching the files we had on Neville, this whole case and everything else.
We had to figure out his trigger. What made him turn psycho? If we could figure that out, we could find his next victim before it's too late.
If we could do that, I could get my vengeance.
Malfoy said, "Frank and Alice kicked the bucket in '99. Wasn't that."
That gave me an idea.
"Ok. It wasn't them dying." I wrote his parents names on the board "What about the people who made them insane?"
Tonks got up and took the marker from my hand. She wrote the names Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange underneath Frank and Alice and then drew an arrow to them.
"Bellatrix and Rodolphus were killed the same day Voldemort died, two years before Neville snapped!"
Hermione was the next one to get up. She took the marker and wrote something on the board as well, but blocked it from my view.
"Crouch Jr. had his soul sucked out in 1995 and his body thrown into the North Sea. There's only one person alive today of that original four. Rabastan Lestrange."
Almost as soon as she had spoken the name, I had pulled out my wand and yelled, "Accio Lestrange Case File!"
I held my hand out when it flew into it lighting fast. That's it. It had to be Rabastan.
I practically threw it on the table and opened it up to the last page. It was all there. As the they gathered around, I read from it.
"July 4th, year 2000. Rabastan Lestrange Pardoned by Minister of Magic."
I remember that trial like it was yesterday. Rabastan had hired a really expensive attorney and was wearing his best dress robes. He had sued the Ministry of Magic for Wrongful Imprisonment and Psychological Torture. And won.
"I was there. Harry provided the key evidence that his trial was sham…" started Hermione.
"He also proved he didn't torture Frank and Alice, and that Barty Sr. was a Court Vigilante and corrupt as hell!" finished Tonks.
"That's it. Had to have been. Longbottom saw it in the paper and he snapped." was all Malfoy had to say on the matter.
I looked at him and asked, "What happened to him after the trial?"
"Took all his money and moved to Parris. Said he didn't feel welcome in England."
Then I realized what we had to do.
"Son of a bitch."
"What?" asked Hermione.
"We've got to work with Rabastan Lestrange. Come on!" was all I had to say as I practically ran out the door to the Floo. I happened to look behind me and Malfoy, Astoria and Tonks were right behind me.
The Floo trip to Rabastan Lestrange's house in Paris was a short one. Only Malfoy knew where it was and we had to follow him through the fire to get there.
Almost as soon as we all had come through the fire, we were greeted by a…I'm not even sure what to call it.
"But Andi, I keep telling you that…" was what Rabastan Lestrange had to say before he looked our way. Before he had though, he had seemed to be in the middle of lunch. And a passionate conversation with a woman who looked like Bellatrix Lestrange, save for the brunette hair.
A woman who looked like Andromeda Tonks.
An awkward silence ensued for quite a while. As if no one really knew what to say. It gave me a chance to look Rabastan over. Compared to his re-trial, he actually looked healthier. He had trimmed his beard, his hair was actually presentable.
But a few things hadn't changed though. His face was gaunt, no doubt from Azkaban. Dark bags lined his eyes, which barely had life in them.
Tonks was the one who finally broke the awkward silence when she said, rather nonchalantly I might add, "Hi, Mum."
"Hello, Dora. Mr. Weasley. Mrs. Malfoy." was her reply. I noted mentally that she didn't acknowledge Malfoy.
Rabastan seemed to shake his head and looked us all over before he said, "Hello, Nephew. What are all you people doing in my house?"
"Rabastan, please be nice." Andromeda kindly said. It seemed to have a calming effected on the ex-Death Eater, as the tension in his shoulders diminished.
"Just what the bloody Hell is this?! Uncle Rab, what are you doing here with this…This…" stammered Malfoy. I glanced over at him as he tried to find the words to say.
"Mr. Malfoy, why don't you just save yourself the trouble now, and shut your mouth." deadpanned Andromeda.
This is just rich. Malfoy's Blood Supremacist Uncle dating a Blood Traitor. His whole image of who Rabastan was had to have been shattered.
Excellent. I couldn't help myself as I started to laugh. Laughing at the absurdity of the situation. No, scratch that. Laughing at Malfoy as he stood there with his jaw dropped.
Malfoy finally yelled out, "Stop it! Stop laughing!"
This only made me laugh harder.
"Stop it right now!"
Astoria finally had enough of it and yelled at both of us, "Both of you knock it off this instant!"
Rabastan had pinched his nose during my little outbreak of laughter and finally asked, "Is anyone here going to explain this to me?"
Tonks decided to do it.
"Rabastan, do you remember Neville Longbottom?"
It took what seemed like several hours to explain to Rabastan Lestrange how he being pardoned had set off a chain of events that turned Neville into a vengeance crazed vigilante.
During the explanation, Rabastan seemed to go from frustrated to slightly worried, then back to frustrated. He muttered quite a few things under his breath, which I am sure were ideas of just what he was going to do to Longbottom if he got his hands on him. Apparently a few of the victims were his mates who had escaped Azkaban.
When Tonks had finally finished, Rabastan took a moment to think it over before reaching into his suit jacket and retrieved a tobacco pouch. Taking a pinch, he set it in his mouth and leaned back in his chair. He seemed to be lost in thought, as if he didn't have someone after his head.
He finally spoke.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, Mr. Weasley, how bad is he?"
"Eh, I'd say 7. Maybe 8."
That's when Tonks said, "Rabastan, we need to use you as bait to draw him out."
He rolled his neck a bit, got up and walked over to his liquor cabinet. After he poured a drink, he walked back over and asked, "I assume that you all, along with many other Aurors will present, correct?"
With that, he proceeded to down his entire drink in one gulp. He looked back at me and said, "Let's do it."
The amount of patrons in the Leaky Cauldron was surprisingly low. That is, if I didn't count the shear amount of Aurors, Hit-Wizards and Malfoy in the building, hidden among the booths and ready to strike in an instant.
And of course, in the middle of the room, was Rabastan Lestrange, who sipped on some brew that I'm sure would melt a dragon's throat. On his person he had his wand, a 10 inch masterpiece made of Blackthorn and containing a core of Dragon Heartstring.
Each and every person here was willing to kill Neville Longbottom if it came down to it. Most of us had had numerous years of training and fighting. If I said so myself, it was a crack fighting force.
Rabastan, to his credit, seemed to have a calm look about him. Like he had made peace with his Maker and wasn't afraid to die.
"Think he'll show up?" Malfoy was running his fingers over the handle of his wand. We had been forced to give him his weapons back for this mission, much to our dismay.
"Probably." As I said that, I thought about Hannah's reaction when we told her the news. She had been shocked. Heartbroken that her husband became what he was.
That's why she had left. She didn't want any part of this. I don't blame her.
"Rabastan Lestrange!" shrieked a voice. I turned around and one of my worst nightmares walked up to Rabastan. Crap. Crap. Crap. CRAP!
Rabastan's look of calm resoluteness had vanished. Replaced by a look of panic. I don't blame him. Not one likes to be interviewed by Rita Skeeter.
"Ms. Skeeter, this really is a bad time. Perhaps we could do this later?" pleaded Rabastan. I almost burst out laughing, but forced it down. This is not good. If she keeps bugging him, our trap will be revealed. Neville will know something is up. We can't let that happen.
"Really? I remember the last time you said that, right before your re-trial. You said that you would let me interview you afterwards," was what the smug bitch said.
I promptly got up and started walking towards them as Rabastan's face fell flat and said, "I lied."
Even after I sat down and tried to get her to stop, Skeeter kept going on and on.
Rabastan finally set his wand on the table, aimed at Skeeter. That actually shut her up.
"Enough is enough, Ms. Skeeter. I have had it with your motherfucking questions in this motherfucking pub! Leave now, or else I will…"
"You'll do what, exactly, Rabastan Lestrange?" The words ice-skated across my spine as I turned to my side, hand already on my wand. Neville Longbottom had apparated right beside me, his wand aimed at Rabastan.
How did he do that? It doesn't matter. We've got him where we want him now. Now I can have my vengeance.
Rabastan turned smug as he smirked.
"Hello, Mr. Longbottom. It's been a while, hasn't it?"
"Shut up!" yelled out Neville. His hands shook and he was sweating profusely.
"How's Mum and Dad, by the way?"
Neville's breathing had to have sky-rocketed at the mention of his parents. But his face didn't show it.
"You're going to die today, Rabastan. Soon you're going to see your brother and sister in Hell!"
Rabastan's smirk only grew larger as he pointed to me.
"If that happens, him and everyone else in this pub will kill you."
Neville turned around to face my wand pointed at his face. I guess that when he apparated here, he didn't noticed me sitting across from Rabastan. But that doesn't matter. He's mine. Two words are all it will take. Just say them Weasley and nobody will blame you.
I tried to cast the Killing Curse. No words came from my mouth. I tried it again. Nothing happened.
I realized I couldn't do it. No matter much I wanted it. No matter how much I needed to, I couldn't bring myself to kill a man in cold blood.
As I was about to cast the Binding Spell, Neville saw and opportunity and had raised his wand to my face. Was this it? Was I about to die?
Neville's lips began to move but I heard no words. Who was going to tell my Mum and Dad? My brothers? What about Ginny?
Who would tell Daphne?
That's when I felt blood splatter my face and saw Neville collapse on to me. He was dead. And sticking out of the back of his head was a tomahawk. I looked up and saw Malfoy standing, his right arm out-stretched.
Malfoy had saved my life. Draco Malfoy saved my life.
I wish Neville had just gotten it over with. Just great. Now I am in debt to Draco Malfoy! This is worse than death. This truly is Hell.
Malfoy walked over to Neville's body and wretched the tomahawk free. He looked me in the eyes and said, "You know Weasley, us bastards have our uses too."
Jimmy Buffet had decided today that it was 5 o'clock somewhere and therefore it was time to drink. And to be perfectly honest, I completely agree with him.
Me and Daphne were walking across the warm sand barefoot and if I say so myself, blending in quite well. If I remember correctly, Negril, Jamaica is a Wizarding Community. One where anyone can come to escape the pressures of everyday life.
Margaritaville was slow today, but it was no surprise to see Harry bar-tending to the few customers that were here. I smiled and said, "Hey Harry!"
He looked my way and waved us over. As we took a seat, he sighed and said, "I heard about what happened."
"Yeah. Bastard got exactly what he deserved," was my wife's reply. I fully agreed. It's tragic that Neville went down the path he did. It really is. Guy never got a true break in his whole life.
In my book, the only break he got was Hannah and their son. And even that didn't last when he went Dark.
But honestly, compared to being thrown through the Veil of Death or spending the rest of his life in Azkaban, Malfoy's tomahawk embedding itself in the back of his head was probably the better of those three options.
Harry said nothing more before pulling out three shot glasses and a bottle of rum. He poured it into all three of them and passed us two.
We raised our glasses as he said to us, "Happy Anniversary, guys."
I hope you all enjoyed it and many thanks to everyone who supported me through this project.