One-Shot: Harry Potter: Fixing it: Zombification Bonus Round 2013
Title: Fixing It
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing/Characters: Harry, Hermione, Voldemort (in a way)
Summary: The Dark Lord was supposed to be dead, and that he was… but this was not what anyone expected. Not at all. And the mystery was taking its toll on Hermione.
Word Count: ~1300
Original Prompt: 177. Harry Potter - any characters - Harry might have killed Voldemort for good this time, but the spell that killed him had a very unintended side-effect.
Author's Note: This is for the bonus round of zombi_fic_ation 2013. I'm also using this to fill my headache/migraine square for hc_bingo. I hope everyone enjoys!
Hermione rubbed her forehead, staring down from the catwalk into the glass wall—huge window, really—just below. She just didn't understand it. Nothing about it made sense, no matter how she looked at. Neither muggle medical knowledge nor wizarding magic had revealed any great reasoning of the situation to her. In a word, she was stuck.
The sound of footsteps on the metal stairs behind her should have made her turn. But she remained, staring eternally down into that room with the glass wall. She didn't have to turn. She knew who was approaching.
"I can't figure it, Harry," she said, as soon as The Boy Who Lived reached her. "I've tried everything."
He handed her a warm mug, and she drank it without thought. She finished it in several large swallows, handing the mug back as Harry set it aside on a nearby table. He crossed his arms, shaking his head and allowing his gaze to follow hers.
"I hate to ask this, after you've been at it for so long. I mean, what's it been, two… three years? But… why do we care? Why do you care?" he said, gesturing to the occupant of the room.
Hermione rubbed at her head again, and Harry reached within the pockets of his robes and pulled out a small, corked potions bottle. He passed it to her, and she accepted it with an arched brow.
"Ron mentioned to Ginny and me that you weren't sleeping well… that you keep getting horrible migraines that were keeping you awake. As it turns out, Ginny's best potion is one for just such an ailment," Harry said, his grin a little lopsided.
Hermione groaned, shaking her head. "I told Ron not to say anything."
"He's just worried. We all are. I mean, you're obsessing. And over a zombie Voldemort of all things."
At this, both sets of eyes returned to the thing, hauling itself around in the room like one of its legs were lame. His already sickly pale skin even more ashen and now rotting, the Dark Lord Voldemort was still easily recognizable. In fact, Hermione was sort of impressed by the slow progression of the rot. The Dark Lord's usual high, cold voice was gone now, replaced by sets of low moans and groans. He dragged himself about as if he was aware of his own weight, one leg dragging behind. Hermione placed the potion Harry had handed her into the pocket of her robe without taking her eyes off of Voldemort. She reached forward, tapping her fingers on the rail of the catwalk in perfect rhythm with that of her throbbing head.
"Take the bloody potion, Hermione, and go home. Get some sleep. There's no reason why you should be here, trying to figure out why Voldemort rose from the grave. He can't do magic anymore. He's little more than a shell," Harry said, jerking a thumb down.
At the mention of his own name, Voldemort glanced up at them, his lips—what was left of them—curling back in a perfect snarl of hatred. Hermione's eyes widened as she pointed down at the former Dark Lord.
"That! That's why I care! He's clearly dead. His magic is clearly gone… but he's still him. I just don't understand it, Harry. You killed him. You sent that curse rebounding back on him. Why did he come back?"
"I don't care. And I still don't understand why you do. So he's still in there somewhere. So what? I've never been callous, but this time… maybe you ought to just set him ablaze and be done with it. I mean, I don't think your head can take much more."
Hermione pulled her hand away from her temples, not even realizing she had been rubbing at them. Lips pursed, she shook her head.
"I can't do that. I've told you that. I've told Ron that. I've even told Ginny and Luna that. I just… I can't."
Harry shook his head, glancing at his watch. "I've got to get back soon. But just do me a favor, okay?"
Hermione grinned. "Take the potion."
"Well, that, but also… just ask yourself this: what's the real reason you can't let him go? Why do you have to solve this mystery?"
With that, Harry turned. He patted her on the shoulder, almost pityingly, and was off. Hermione watched him go with dimmed eyes. With a sigh, she turned back to her view on the zombie Voldemort, and her hand returned to her throbbing temples. Maybe Harry was right. Maybe she should let it go and tell her underlings to burn him. But even as she thought it, she knew she could not go through with it. Why did she care about solving this mystery? About keeping the former Dark Lord alive… around, rather? It definitely wasn't worth the pain it was causing her head.
She turned, descending the catwalk and stepping around the metal staircase until she was standing right at the large, glass wall. Voldemort saw her and rushed at the other side. True to muggle imagery of zombies, he did not have the greatest control over his motor functions, but he still managed to fling his arms up and slam them into his side of the window. His physical strength had been amplified by whatever force had brought him back to this unlife, but the glass had been magically reinforced. It barely shook.
"Why am I letting you haunt me?" she whispered.
The zombie snarled at her, and she curled her lip up. Her head throbbed even harder.
"I hate you," she huffed.
She was instantly surprised by the intensity that followed that statement. She did hate him, more than she had even known. A fire filled her being, her head felt near to exploding, and all she could see in her mind's eye was the faces of all the people this monster had been responsible for killing. Her eyes widened, and she took a step back.
"I'm not like that," she murmured.
But she might have just answered Harry's question. Maybe solving the mystery of why Voldemort was back wasn't why she kept the zombie around. Maybe that wasn't why she observed him almost constantly. Maybe her curiosity had nothing to do with it just this once.
Maybe, just this once, she was being spiteful, vengeful.
They had lost so many in the fight against this monster—a monster even before his zombified state. This was justice. Keeping him locked up here, powerless, under the guise of trying to figure out why he was walking the earth again… it was all a ruse. A way to fix that feeling of loss left over for years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Sure, she was honestly curious as to why he was back…but in the end, like everyone else, she didn't care.
And in that moment, her headache was gone. She stared at the zombie anew, as if freed from a horrible curse. She turned, calling out into the lab as she entered it.
"Simmons, do me a favor," she said, approaching her first intern.
"Yes, ma'am?" Simmons—a young wizard, almost freshly graduated—responded.
"Collect a sample from Voldemort… and then burn him."
"You heard me. We've had enough of him around here. We'll be able to learn everything we can from just a sampling. And after three years? We could probably use the space for something else."
She walked past Simmons as the young man turned.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
Grinning, and not bothering to turn, she replied, "Home. To get some much needed sleep. I'll be back in the morning.
She exited the department, making her way toward the outside of the Ministry. It felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders, even just admitting her real reasons to herself.
And maybe, just a little, the idea of burning that thing alive didn't hurt either.