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Chapter 15: Getting Adjusted
Ron could hear his Sister and Kreacher chatting when they returned from their trip to Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley.
"Tonight Kreacher Hermione and I can put a list together of what we talked about. Can you and Winky be here also?"
"Yes Mistress. Together we can assemble a list for Kreacher to get for you."
"Hi Ron. How's Harry?" Ginny wondered.
"Fantastic. Look at the smile he has now" he replied.
Ginny saw he had his biggest smile so for. 'Can he read my mind now, knowing how happy I am?' she wondered. As Ron stepped aside (he was sitting on the edge of the bed to partially block her view) she saw why. Firmly grasped in his left hand was his Firebolt, all shiny like it was brand new.
"Ron where did it come from? This isn't a new one is it?" she asked very shocked.
"About an hour ago it came sailing in through the window on its own like it was summoned. I had my cleaning kit in my trunk and polished it up for him. He can't stop smiling!"
Ginny laid down next to him on the opposite side. She started to pull his arm around her like she usually did, and found him pulling her close before she was even halfway. 'Another improvement' she thought. She began to whisper about the two vaults and did not notice Ron and Kreacher leave. It was hours later she heard Hermione come in, using their 'signal' to cough before walking in on something. "Any luck?"
"Not yet. Hannah and Neville wanted to come with me. We got back a couple hundred years, or 8 or so generations. The relationship between Harry and Neville Hannah discovered. In this case it is a brother who Harry is descended from, and his sister is Neville. So they are cousins on paper at least."
"And the Gryffindor part?"
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing!" Hermione complained. "We got back to that point and then everything else is gone. Vanished. Hang on a minute. The Prophesy! Now how did that go? 'THE DARK LORD WILL MARK HIM AS HIS EQUAL !!!' " she shouted. "Voldemort told Harry he was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin. Harry is his equal, because he is descended from Godric Gryffindor! Now it makes sense!!! Harry always wondered about that part, because he didn't think he was powerful enough to stop him."
"And he did. For all of us" Ginny said resting her head on his shoulder. "Can you wake me in an hour? Kreacher and Winky are coming tonight to talk about the project. Don't worry about the money. We have ... " Ginny's voice trailed off as she fell asleep. Hermione put a blanket over both and slipped away.
That hour Ginny had a strange dream. She was travelling somewhere. Where, or how she did not know.
* * *
Seeing how happy Harry was gave Ginny an idea. He barely let go of his broom except to hold her closer at night. She made arrangements for her surprise for him the following week.
That week and the next were filled with shopping trips and visits to Grimmauld Place. The floo was hooked up in the parlor, and Kreacher charmed it to connect only with the one in their special room. This gave them a chance to come and go whenever they pleased. "Now we don't have to wake up Kreacher at 3 in the morning" joked Ron. They hadn't done that yet, but came close the night before. Hermione had woke up with an idea and kept Ron awake until Ginny got up. After patiently waiting for Kreacher to arrive with breakfast they wolfed it down and left.
Friday morning was to be Harry's Early Birthday Surprise. Ginny, Hermione, and Ron awoke very early and took Harry out onto the patio. There waiting was Hagrid on Buckbeak along with three more thestrals. Luna, Hannah, and Neville soon joined them. After bowing Ginny got on Buckbeak and Hagrid lifted Harry so he was behind her. His arms were charmed to stay wrapped around her, which gave him another smile. They lifted off, followed by Hermione and Ron, Hannah and Neville, and Luna on Spot. Ginny took her time trying not to make any sharp turns to not lose Harry, but she didn't have to worry. He seemed to know before a turn began as she felt him lean in that direction. Buckbeak seemed to sense this so he spent most of the time gracefully floating on the updrafts. The wind gently pushed them over the Black Lake and Ginny got another idea. Hanging onto Harry with one hand she raised her other and holding her wand high she said "Acacio Harry Potter's wand".
Buckbeak glided the length of the Lake and banked to return. Not getting a response she tried again. "Acacio my husband's wand" she more firmly said. This time as she approached the center of the Lake the water began to churn. Something exploded out of the water and came hurtling towards them. Ginny banked hard to the right, trying to avoid whatever this was. Harry's legs were on either side of hers and she felt him lean in the opposite direction, guiding Buckbeak back the other way.
"NO HARRY STOP!" Ginny yelled, afraid of what was coming towards them. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Ron speeding closer from her right, and Neville from her left. Buckbeak didn't seem to be listening to her. The two thestrals put on a burst of speed to intercept Ginny and Harry but it was obvious the object was moving faster. She felt herself tense up preparing for a mid air collision when she saw Harry's right hand shoot out and snatch the item from the air, just like he would a snitch ending a Quidditch Match.
Ron and Neville pulled up on either side and they all glided to the shoreline where Luna was waiting. "Wow Harry I forgot how fast your reflexes are" she said.
Now that they landed Ginny was able to look down. Harry was back to holding tightly to her with both hands, but now in his right hand was his wand. She felt the warmth of it pressed against her heart. The power of it and Harry's love flowed into her, filling her with excitement. She urged Buckbeak back into the air and he sped off, flying faster than he had ever done before. North they travelled mirroring the coastline until they reached the end of the British Isle. Buckbeak gracefully turned left and started back Southwest along the other coast. Ginny was exhilarated feeling the wind rushing through her hair, and how tightly Harry was holding on feeling his heart beating against her back. After another hour they curved more to the East, eventually finding their way back to Hogwarts. The rest of their friends had returned, confident Ginny and Harry would come back unscathed. Ginny felt Harry relax and Hagrid gently lifted him back onto the bed. She pushed him back inside and put several blankets on him fearing he might be chilled like she was. Neither were dressed for the speed Buckbeak made. Hermione encouraged her to crawl in beside him to warm up, and left to give them some time alone. With a flash from Harry's wand the blankets shifted to allow her to lie down, then covered her tightly. She put her head on his shoulder and fell asleep.
Ginny found herself dreaming about travelling again. Like before she could not tell in what, but this time there was a window to look out. All was dark except for an occasional light in the distance.
* * *
Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott were having breakfast with The Headmistress. The floo roared to life and out stepped Bill and Charlie Weasley. Their Mother Molly was just behind. She nodded to those eating breakfast and exited the Office.
"Bit of a snit this morning?" Neville wondered.
"This and every morning. Yesterday was the worst" Bill told them as he waited for them to finish. "An owl came from Gringotts saying the estate of Sirius Black left them 100,000 galleons. She and Dad went to Gringotts and found Fleur who checked for them. It showed this came from the Black Family Vault, just like the letter said."
"Mom thinks it was from Ginny or Ron. Or maybe Hermione or Harry. She knows we don't have that kind of money, or probably Hermione for that matter. She said, and I quote: "Arthur I think Harry is trying to buy our silence. Or worse buy himself a wife".
"To think that of Harry is just wrong!! Doesn't she realize he could have his pick of almost any witch he wants!!" Hannah exploded. She threw her napkin down and stormed out.
Minerva looked down at her tea. Neville squeezed her hand as he left to talk to Hannah. She raised her wand ready to send her patronus to Kingsley about Molly again when the door opened and Hannah and Neville returned. "Sorry" Hannah said to her as she sat back down.
"I don't know what your Mother's problem is but she is playing with fire" Neville menacingly told Charlie and Bill. Both men shrunk back from him, even though each outweighed him by at least 50 pounds.
"Neville we're sorry about how she is acting. To her what we did is impossible, so it had to be someone else" Charlie replied.
"I don't think seeing our memories would help either. We tried to watch them with Fleur but pulled out. Headmistress are you sure you want us here?" asked Bill.
"If I wasn't in such dire need of help believe me you would be rotting in Azkaban for what you did" she replied. "Your Mother should be grateful to the DA that they are willing to do this. None of the Aurors are available to babysit you."
"Percy told us that. Whenever I try and tell her she says it is all a lie to tear our Family apart" Charlie stated. "Hannah I'm sorry she said what she did, and I should not have repeated it."
"You know Harry better than I do. To think such a thing as that puts a black mark on your whole Family. What you did to Harry was more than to physically hurt him. You took away his life, the only one he has. He has nowhere else to go. He can't go back to his Aunt's and Uncle's, and Hogwarts is badly damaged." Hannah glared at the two men.
Neville was thinking as Hannah spoke. What did Kreacher say? 'He is on a journey'. And the Headmaster? 'We all go through periods in our lives of discovery.' Can that be what it is ??? "Hannah let's get this over with for today. Soon we need an emergency meeting of the DA. If Molly Weasley thinks we are wasting our time, perhaps she is right. There are things you and I have postponed to help, and what thanks do we get? Dirty looks from their Mother! Give me some Death Eaters, them I can understand."
"I agree Neville. Headmistress I do not know if any DA members will be available to help in this way in the future." Hannah turned to address Charlie and Bill. "When you have lunch with your Mother today please let her know we are grateful for the help she gave us. We are following her advice and rethinking what is right." Hannah motioned and Charlie and Bill left, followed by Neville.
Minerva was heartbroken thinking her World was falling apart. She spied a note left on the table: 'Don't worry we know Molly is acting like a baby. Dirty looks aren't going to keep us from helping. But she needs to understand the World does not revolve around her and her Family. I hope you can decide soon what to do with them, because we don't have forever to do this.' It was signed Hannah and Neville.
Minerva stuffed the note into her pocket, promising herself to show it to Augusta later.
* * *
Terry Boot and Anthony (Tony) Goldstein were about to have lunch with Hannah and Neville. The DA split their 'chore' each day to make the job easier. It was very stressful watching the two Weasleys, afraid they might be attacked themselves. The only girl who still did was Luna who didn't seem to be worried. "If they try they better not plan on having any children" she told them.
Hannah and Neville joined them and filled out the morning paperwork of their assignment. Kingsley asked them to do this in case any further evidence was needed.
"Neville should we put down what we discussed this morning?" Hannah asked.
"Why? What happened now?" wondered Tony.
"As usual Mrs. Weasley didn't look at us. She did have some nasty things to say before they came which Charlie made the mistake of telling us. We came close to sending them back to the Dark Tower, just like Kingsley said if there was trouble." Neville related the conversations and saw how upset his two friends were.
At the opposite end of the table Terry saw the three Weasleys sitting together. He flicked his wand casting the silencing charm over them since he could hear some of it from that far away.
"No Bill I will not apologize!! They have no right keeping Ginny and Ron locked away like that!!!" Molly yelled.
"But Mom ... " Tony silenced them after that. Molly began to pound her hand on the table and her face turned red.
Charlie leaned over to talk and they saw Molly now turn white. All three glanced in their direction and stopped talking. Several minutes later they approached the DA members. Tony adjusted his charm so it now covered all seven of them.
Molly stared at them for a moment. "Sorry" she said through gritted teeth and spun around to leave.
"SORRY? THAT'S IT?" Tony exploded, causing her to turn around. "You beat the hell out of them, and it's 'sorry?' You should be ashamed of yourself!!"
Terry cast a second spell, this time silencing Molly. "Growing up Tony and I didn't know your Family very well. We were from a different House, so yes we knew each other, but it was not until the DA that we had the chance to spend time together. I don't have any brothers or sisters, so I was jealous of the big Family and how close you were."
"And the way you treated Hermione and Harry like he was one of your own made us very envious. But now look at this. The Battle was over. Professor Lupin, Colin Creevy, Hannah's Mom were all casualties. Every one of us is hurting. Harry's parents. Neville's too" he said, gesturing to Neville who was looking down playing with his food. Hannah was sitting with her eyes closed quietly crying. "Are you so selfish that you don't see what this did to all of us!!!"
"Yes you Miss Fred. We got to know him and George better in the DA. Both are two brave men. And Ron and Ginny are too. If I needed someone to have my back, I would not hesitate to ask either one. You are too busy focusing on them that you missed the bigger picture. George and Percy, and to a lesser extent your other two sons here" Terry gestured, unwilling to use their names "blamed Harry not Voldemort for Fred's death. We were 10 feet away and heard every word. You did not tell them no they were wrong. Neither did Mr. Weasley. Only Bill's wife Fleur and Angelina Johnson did. So what do they do? Nothing except to follow them and pound them into the ground!! You didn't see Ron or Ginny when they first came in. Both were covered in blood. Ron could barely stand! And we did not see Hermione or Harry. I can only imagine the damage they had!!!" Terry stated.
"Speaking of Harry and Hermione how many times have you asked how they are? Twice a day? Once? We've all been talking. None of us have heard you ask, not even once. So much for 'treating them like one of your own' !! Terry we were wrong to wish we were a Weasley. I'm glad I'm not. Now it's time to go. You better be prepared to work hard, because I am very pissed right now" Tony ended with. Angrily he thrust his chair out from under him and pointed with his wand for the door. Charlie and Bill had their shoulders slumped as they walked ahead of him and Tony.
Molly Weasley was not used to a verbal tongue lashing. A part of her believed she deserved it, but the other still felt her children did not and could not have done this. She opened her mouth to say something about Harry and Hermione when she realized Hannah and Neville had left too. With her head down she exited the Great Hall to sit and think.
* * *
After Terry and Tony left with their 'charges' Hannah took Neville for a walk through the Castle, avoiding the places she knew Bill or Charlie might be. She waved at Seamus Finnigan who was paired with Luna. He was lifting blocks to replace a wall which had been blown apart by Dark Magic in the Hallway on the third floor above the Castle entrance. He replied to her questioning that his girlfriend Lavender Brown was improving, but it might take months for her to recover completely if she ever did. As she left him she felt him continuing to stare. This year she let her hair grow out, finally willing to let go of the pigtails everyone was accustomed to seeing. The clothes shopping trip had done a world of good too. Neville smiled every time he caught anyone staring at her, and usually followed it with a trip behind the nearest tapestry.
Consequently what should have taken at the most 30 minutes took over two hours to get to the Special Room. With no one else around Neville revealed the secret entrance from Poppy's Office. The big table was now near Harry's bed, and Hermione, Ron, and Ginny were clustered around it looking at pictures in magazines. On one of the shopping trips Hermione bought one of every magazine she could find showing home decorating and Ron (reluctantly) was helping. He was excited when he saw Hannah and Neville come in, thinking he and Neville could slip away unnoticed. It might have worked if Hermione had not caught him staring at Hannah. "Ouch" he said rubbing his shoulder where Ginny had punched him for Hermione.
"Can't a man look?" he said, inspecting Harry's sheets and blankets so they did not see him blushing.
"Ron let's take Harry out into the fresh air." Neville stated to save him. He winked at Hannah and together they wheeled Harry out into the sun. His smile grew bigger as he pulled his Firebolt closer.
"I know mate. One day soon" Ron told him. "Neville I'm sorry but I just can't help it with Hannah."
"It's OK Ron. At first I got jealous, but I realized out of all the guys out there she wants to be with me" he answered.
"I feel the same. I know Harry does too. I didn't really look at Hermione before. I mean yes, she is a girl. I get that part. Sometimes she intimidates me she's so smart. Usually I feel stupid around her."
"Ron I don't think she feels that way. She hangs on your every word. And she listens too, not just says 'OK' to everything you say. Ginny and Harry are the same. It's why they are so easy to talk to. You too."
"Thanks. I'll try not to stare as much in the future."
"Don't worry. I can't take my eyes off her. When she walks into the room it's like all the other girls aren't there.
"Same here. All three of us are very lucky Neville. I promised Harry if I ever mess up he has permission to straighten me out."
"All three of us. Deal?" Neville asked. He was on the one side of Harry and Ron was on the other. Neither saw Harry's wand flash as they said this.
* * *
"Hannah I want to apologize for my idiot of a boyfriend. I'm going to have a talk with him tonight" Hermione angrily said.
"It's OK. I'm trying to get used to it. The funny part is Neville. At first got mad, but now he uses it as a reason to find a place to snog whenever it happens" she replied.
"Life is more interesting now" Ginny giggled, causing the other two to laugh also. On the day all the magazines were bought the three of them stopped to look in the window of a shop called 'Bare Essentials'. They were shocked to see the almost naked mannequins posed with the sign 'If You've Got It Flaunt It'. A sales lady came over and invited them in, and the woman (who was old enough to be their Mother but didn't look it) explained how important support was, and how to tell if a bra fit properly. An hour later each left holding a bag full of lacy things which she assured them 'would knock their socks off'. Six stores later they had new wardrobes.
"Hannah which are you wearing today?" Ginny asked.
"Spearmint" she replied pulling the front of her top down even further to show it. For the summer they each decided to wear v-necks and tank tops, and the new undergarments had the desired effect. They tested them that day walking around London and were approached many, many times by guys who 'wanted their number'. Especially at lunch, where over a dozen guys (and two girls) gave them their napkins with a phone number on it. Hermione refused the drinks they sent, replying they were on a diet and each had boyfriends.
"So where do we stand?" Hermione asked looking at a picture of a pink children's bedroom set.
"We're not there yet" Hannah replied to the picture, making all three blush. "I have one more place to check. It's a Wizarding store near Diagon Alley. Susan told me about it. And guess what, Cho Chang was working in it! And guess who was hanging around? Dean Thomas !! She saw them at lunch later holding hands."
"Do you think we should warn her?" wondered Hermione.
"Cho's a big girl" Ginny responded. She didn't wish anything bad to happen, she wanted nothing to do with either. Especially since she and Harry had dated for a short time, and Ginny guessed she still had feelings for him. "I have our set picked out anyway." In an antique shop she found the perfect thing in mahogany to contrast with the oak floors which were chosen for the entire house. A king sized four poster bed 'Big enough to lay sideways in' which had two nightstands and an armoire. Four other pieces came with it: two long dressers with mirrors, a jewelry case to set on hers, and a lingerie chest. A building was used which they owned nearby to store anything they bought until it could be moved there.
"Can Ron and I come tomorrow too? I can't decide what to get" Hermione told Hannah. She was torn between buying a more traditional set like Ginny's or something more modern.
"Absolutely! We can double date" Hannah grinned. "By the way who will you be?"
"Brenda and Scott from America, just like last time." Three weeks ago they transfigured their appearance and went clothes shopping for Ron. He returned with a dozen pairs of jeans and khakis, various styles and colors of shirts, and a suit. The plan this time was to 'dress to impress' as another store window suggested. Both couples used the floo from Grimmauld Place to the private one in the Leaky Cauldron. Two empty rooms were used to change in, with both guys now in their new suits. They waited in the hallway and were stunned when the girls came out. Both had on short black leather skirts and high heels. Hannah had on a long sleeve blue top to match her eyes. A matching ribbon was tied in her long blonde hair, pulling it back to create a sophisticated look. Brenda (Hermione) wore a canary yellow top identical to Hannah's, with the ribbon containing her long straight black hair. Both girls had unbuttoned their tops as low as they dared, barely concealing what was underneath.
"Everyone smile" asked Tom, Hannah' Uncle who owned the bar. Hermione turned her collar up to hide the scar Bellatrix Lestrange gave her, and Hannah did the same. They posed for a picture as themselves then as Brenda and Scott. Three blocks away was the store Cho worked in. Hannah greeted her warmly (since she had nothing against her) and introduced Brenda and Scott as cousins of Neville's from America. Cho knew Hannah was to be living at Longbottom Manor "not living with Neville" she joked. Neville's Gran was springing for new furniture for both couples. In addition to the styles on display Cho showed them a book featuring many more. Just a few pages in Hermione found the one she wanted in a darker oak color to complement the floor. This did not have a canopy like she had slept in the last seven years, instead having an intricately carved Headboard as tall as 'Scott' was, with a shorter footboard. The size of the bed was a 'California King', specially designed for sports players who were tall. Different sizes of dressers were available and they chose several ones giving Scott the upper drawers. A full length oval mirror on a wood base could be placed in the corner.
Hannah fell in love with a set there. Like the others the bed was king sized with a 'pencil post' frame. That detail was repeated in the fronts of the matching pieces.
Cho also had a Company which made matching sheets, comforters, and curtains. The girls picked two sets of each (Hannah chose one in Hufflepuff's colors and one in Gryffindor's). Brenda/Hermione asked to duplicate both books for Scott's sister Gena who didn't come with them and loved this style of furniture. Arrangements were made to magically deliver everything to the warehouse next week, explaining renovations were happening and did not want to see these beautiful things damaged.
"Scott" blushed at his stomach grumbling. Cho laughed and said she recommended the restaurant next door which was also Family owned. Neville paid for everything which was just under 10,000 galleons. Ginny had arranged with Griphook that anything they bought would come out of her account not his or his Gran's.
They went next door to the place called the 'Train Station', in reference to the decor which reminded them of the Hogwarts Express. Booths were designed so it seemed like you were travelling and scenery was passing by.
"Good Evening folks. Welcome to the Train Station. How can I ... Hannah Abbott is that you?" the Maitre D' asked. All four were surprised to see Dean Thomas. He tried to move forward to hug her but bumped into Neville who 'happened to be in the way'.
"Hello Dean" Neville said sticking out his hand.
"Neville! Great to see you too" he replied, obviously disappointed she was not alone.
"Dean these are my cousin and his girlfriend from America, Scott Wallace and Brenda Anderson" Neville introduced making up their last names on the spot.
"Pleased to meet you" Scott/Ron replied giving him the wimpiest handshake he could. He wanted to crush Dean's hand but that would make him no better than his Brothers. Brenda/Hermione also shook hands. They were shown to a table along one wall with Dean's view of the girls being blocked by Ron as they bent over to sit. Dean pointed out the specials for the day, suggesting the lobster bisque as an appetizer. They went with his idea, believing his Family could not afford to injure or hex paying customers.
The soup was excellent. Ron and Neville excused themselves to go to the loo and missed Dean return with another basket of rolls. Seeing his chance he sat down next to 'Brenda' and began to chat about school, etc,. While doing this he placed his hand on Brenda's leg and began to slide it up her tightly crossed legs. Hannah knew Dean's trick but began to smile distracting him. He did not see 'Scott' standing directly behind him while this was happening until he felt a vice like grip on his right shoulder. His arm began to go numb as he tried to get up but he couldn't since Ron was leaning so hard on him.
"Catching up with an old friend?" Ron/Scott asked Hannah. She smiled even more, guessing the pain he must be in. Sweat was running down his face as he tried not to scream. His arm was numb to his fingers, which were stuck under Hermione's skirt. He saw Neville sit down and put his arm around Hannah, who snuggled against him.
"Ummm I think I hear the door. If you lovely ladies will excuse me" Dean said as Ron/Scott stepped back to let him leave.
"Sorry" Ron said to the three of them as he sat back down.
"Don't be. I'm not. He deserves more" Hermione said as she kissed him. "Where did you learn that?"
"Last year when I was gone." He looked at Neville and Hannah. "I deserted them for a while last year, Hermione and Harry. We had a row and I stormed off. When I came back they were gone. Some snatchers caught me and were discussing how to capture someone without a wand. First time I tried it."
"I'm proud of you. For not losing your temper, and not tearing his head off" Hermione told him. The topic was dropped and they went to discussing their futures. And wishing it was three couples there instead of just two.