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A/N: Hey guys! Here’s the sequel. I was so surprised at the number of people requested one. So, here it is! I hope it lives up to the other story. *Nervous laughter* Read…read.
“Happy birthday, Harry, dear.”
“Mrs. Weasley, no, this is too much.”
‘Don’t be silly. It’s not everyday a wizard comes of age.”
Harry Potter looked down in shock at the gift the Weasleys had given him. He couldn’t even contemplate how much it had cost them. He’d only seen two in his entire life. Sitting on the Weasley’s kitchen table, now piled high with discarded wrapping paper, was a rather careworn, but still respectable Pensieve.
“We found it in a sale at Diagon Alley. It seems the wizard selling it had no idea what he had. Rather dishevled bloke, now that I think about it,” Mr. Weasley said, he stood behind Mrs. Weasley chair, his hand on her shoulder. She reached back and covered his hand with hers, smiling,
“We thought it would come in useful for you, dear.”
She was worried about him, Harry knew. The weeks since the wedding had passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Harry had spent his time with Ginny, Ron, and Hermione, laughing and talking. They had even gotten Hermione to play some quidditch. Things had been very good, indeed. But whenever the topic of school came up, Harry, Ron, and Hermione all got rather quiet. Mrs. Weasley was worried about what they were up to, but did not question them. Harry knew that she would eventually. Especially when the letters came, as Harry was sure they would, asking whether or not they would be returning. She had been constantly on the watch after the Malfoy incident. She, as well as Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny, had been assured several times by Mr. Weasley that Malfoy was securely in Azkaban. Harry was sure that Scrimgeour was thrilled to have someone else thrown in prison, even if it was a seventeen year old. This still angered Harry, but for right now, Harry was enjoying the best birthday he’d ever had.
Fleur and Bill were setting up in their new home nearby in the village; they had returned from their honeymoon the week before and announced that they had bought the small cottage on the outskirts of the village. Bill wanted to be close to home for the Order, but Fleur wanted a place of her own. The newly married couple had come up to the house for Harry’s celebration. George, Brooke, and Fred had done the same. Angelina had had to work, and had sent her apologies with Fred. Harry suspected that Fred was on the verge of asking her to marry him, but he wanted to separate it a bit from his brother’s proposal. Charlie had gone back to Romania the day after the wedding.
They had all enjoyed one of Mrs. Weasley’s wonderful dinners. Content, full, and a bit sleepy, Harry had begun to open the gifts that had been hidden in the broom cupboard.
Bill and Fleur had bought Harry a large box of chocolate frogs.
Hermione had given him a large, leatherbound book. Harry had sighed and said with false enthusiasm,
“Thanks, Hermione, I wanted another book.”
“Harry-” she had started.
“No, really, thanks.”
She had laughed, and said,
“Harry did you even look to see what book it was?”
Harry turned it over and read, A History of the Hogwarts Founders. Harry perked up considerably.
“I thought it might come in useful,” she said with a significant smile. Ron, who was sitting next to her with his arm around her waist, chuckled.
“It will. Thanks, Hermione,” Harry said, genuinely thankful this time. This would help him. It might lead to more clues about the whereabouts of the other Horcruxes.
Ron had given him a miniature Foe Glass.
“I know they can be fooled, but I thought, you know, better a Foe Glass that can be fooled than no Foe Glass at all,” Ron had said when Harry hadn’t responded after unwrapping it.
“No, this is perfect, Ron! I didn’t even think of getting any Darkness Detectors-” Harry stopped, looking up for Mrs. Weasley, but she had left the room to retrieve her gift for Harry. Mr. Weasley and Bill both looked suspicious, but, thankfully did not question Harry as to why he would need Darkness Detectors. Harry was glad when Mrs. Weasley brought in a large wrapped gift and he was saved the trouble of making excuses.
Fred said loudly,
“Honestly, Mum, you had to give him that wonderfully useful gift right before we gave ours, is that it?”
“Yeah, Mum, you’re always trying to outdo us, aren’t you?” George added, acting insulted.
“Oh please, you two. She raised you. That alone deserves the respect of every woman in the world. She could outdo you in your sleep,” Brooke said with a good natured laugh.
“Why thank you, Brooke,” Mrs. Weasley said kindly.
“Now, sad as this may seem, my education on the magical world extends to the funny, but sometimes horrible creations that these two come up with. Can I ask what all this stuff is? I mean, what does it do?”
“Well, sweetheart, you see that there? That’s called a book. You open it like this…Hermione, hand me that book, and then you follow the words on the page andthey supply the person reading it-you-with information,” George said slowly as if he was speaking to a small child.
Brooke laughed and slapped George lightly upside the head,
“Thanks so much, George. Now that is a concept that we Muggles could really put to good use! I meant that, what did you call it Ron, the Foe Glass. And the very impressive Pensieve. What is that?”
Harry started to answer, but Hermione began speaking the way you would expect an encyclopedia to talk, if it could speak. Ginny, who was sitting next to Harry, grasped his hand in hers and whispered,
“I’ll give you my gift when we’re alone.”
Harry whispered back,
“You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“Tell me this,” Ginny whispered back, amused, “why is it the automatic response to say ‘you didn’t have to get me anything’? You’re my boyfriend. Of course I had to get you something.”
“Just so long as it’s not a necklace with ‘My Sweetheart’ on it.”
“What?” Ginny looked shocked.
Harry opened his mouth to explain, but Hermione had finished her explanations and Fred said,
“If you two would stop whispering sweet nothings to each other over there, we could get on with giving you our traditional gift of our newest and best products that Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes produces.”
Harry blushed at Fred’s interpretation of his and Ginny’s conversation. Ginny gave a sarcastic,
Harry took the box of products and found many products from the twins’ elite Dark Art’s Defense line. Harry looked up at Fred and George who looked pleased at the thankful expression on Harry’s face.
“Thanks, guys, really. Thank you.”
It’s as if they knew that he would soon need many of these products. They couldn’t know, but Harry thought they probably suspected that Harry had plans to do something dangerous and life-threatening. Or, then again, they could have just anticipated that something dangerous and life-threatening would find him. That happened quite a bit.
With a wave of her wand, Mrs. Weasley sent Harry’s gifts floating up to Ron’s room, and she cleared the mess of wrapping paper from the table. After that, Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley’s fell into easy conversation. Mr. Weasley questioned Brooke about her life as a Muggle. The rest enjoyed hearing Brooke’s explanation of things like letter openers, music boxes, and DVD players. She had really adapted well to the Weasley family, and was eager to learn about the magical world her fiancée had lived in his whole life. Through the course of the conversation, they learned that Brooke had lost her parents in a plane accident last year and had given up the idea of going to secondary school to take over the paper shop at eighteen. Mr. Weasley restrained himself from asking the question he wanted the answer to more than anything (how do airplanes stay up?) in light of the tragic way the airplane had been brought into the conversation.
“So, after we’re married, I’ll still work in the village, so I’ll be close by here. I’m living above my shop right now, just as George is over his, but George and I are planning to buy a home close by. Because I can’t, what was that word, George. Oh, I remember now. Apparate. I can’t Apparate to work, so we need to be closer to the paper shop than to his joke shop.”
There was a lull in conversation after this. It was very late, and Harry let out a wide yawn. Ginny gave Harry’s hand a small squeeze and jerked her head towards Ron and Hermione. Hermione’s head was resting on Ron’s shoulder, and she looked as though she were about to fall asleep. Mrs. Weasley noticed as well, and she said,
“I think it’s time to be off to bed.”
Hermione jerked awake, and everyone stood up to say their goodbyes. Bill and Fleur were the first to leave. They walked out into the yard and vanished. Brooke sighed,
“Useful talent, that. I unfortunately have to walk.”
“I’ll go with you,” George said, his arm around her waist, “Thanks for the hot meal, Mum. Fred and I live off of chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans at home.”
“Ugh! I never want to hear about those Beans ever again,” Brooke said, “He gave me a brown one that he said was chocolate flavored,” she said to the group at large, “It was rubber boot!”
“I couldn’t have known that,” George said innocently, “That’s all part of the fun.”
“Rubbish! That’s not fun! Thank you for dinner, Mrs. Weasley, it was really good.”
“Call me Molly, dear.”
“Oh, um, alright,” Brooke looked a bit flustered, but she recovered quickly, “Happy Birthday, Harry. May you have many more.”
“I hope so too,” Harry muttered, then said more loudly, “Thanks.”
They left, followed by Fred,
“Just so you know, Mum, we don’t live off of chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.”
“That’s a relief,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“We live off of cockroach clusters and fire-whisky. Though there tends to be more fire-whisky then cockroach clusters.”
Fred held his hands up in font of him to ward off Mrs. Weasley, who was attempting to box him around the ears.
“Oh, get out of here,” she said, sounding cross, but a smile twitched at the corners of her lips.
“Fine, then. I have to go anyway. I promised Angelina I’d meet her for breakfast in the morning before work. Happy Birthday, Harry.”
With all the rest gone, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron were free to go to bed.
“Thanks again, Mrs. Weasley. This was the best birthday I’ve ever had.”
Mrs. Weasley smiled and pulled Harry into a hug.
“You’re welcome, dear. Goodnight, you lot! Don’t stay up too much later, now.”
They all four climbed the stairs, yawning all the way. They stopped outside Ginny’s room, as was the nightly routine now. Hermione kissed Ron goodnight, and she wished Harry pleasant dreams and a Happy Birthday. Ron proceeded to climb the stairs after Hermione had gone into Ginny’s room, leaving Harry to say goodnight to Ginny. Ron tended to find it sickening to watch Harry kiss Ginny, and though he was getting better about it, they had worked out this routine so that Ron didn’t have to witness Harry and Ginny’s goodnights. Tonight was not the simple goodnight kiss, however. Ginny pulled a small package out of her pocket. She gave it to Harry, and waited anxiously for his reaction. Harry pulled the wrapping from the gift and looked down at a small golden ball. It was a snitch.
“Ginny,” he breathed. He knew where she had gotten the idea for the gift.
About a week and a half before, they had been out in the orchard playing Quidditch when Hermione decided that she had taken all she could of the sport and she and Ron had gone for a walk. This left Harry and Ginny in the orchard. Harry had held his broomstick at arms length with an expression of deep remorse.
“What is it, Harry?” Ginny asked, circling her arm around Harry’s waist, and pulling him down to sit beside her in the grass under a tree. She lounged comfortably against his chest, and looked up at him, concerned.
“It’s just…I hadn’t thought about it before, but I’ll never play another game of Quidditch for Gryffindor. No more Quidditch matches. I’ll never have the chance to catch another Snitch, Ginny, ever.”
Ginny had turned his face towards hers and kissed him,
“Never say never, Harry. You don’t know what’s going to happen. For all you know, you could defeat Voldemort and decide that you want to play professional Quidditch.”
“But, you can’t know that.”
“And you can’t know that you won’t. You’ll hold another snitch. I promise.”
Now, Harry did hold a snitch in his hand. It was the most thoughtful gift he had ever gotten.
“Do you like it?” Ginny asked.
Harry pulled her to him and kissed her.
“So, that’s yes, or are you just avoiding the question?”
“Ginny, this is the best gift anyone has ever given me. Thank you.”
He kissed her again, and Hermione poked her head out the door,
“You two had better watch it. Ginny, you’re mum will be round soon to check that we’re asleep. Night Harry! Get some rest. You and Ron have that apparition practice in the morning, remember.”
“Oh, yeah. I s’pose I should get to bed, then. Thank you, Ginny. Thank you so much.” He gave her one last, small kiss and she disappeared into her room.
Harry climbed the stairs to Ron’s room thinking how lucky he was to have Ginny.
A/N: Sorry, it’s short. I have less time now that school’s about to start. I’m really busy. What did you guys think? I’m just laying the ground work for later chapters, so it’s not all that exciting right now. Please review! I need to know if people are going to keep reading, or if they’re going to drop it because it’s not as good as The Wedding. What do you guys think? I’d also like to give a shout out to my new friend Young Phoenix. Thanks for flattering me, babe!
A/N: Hey! I had many responses saying that there wasn’t enough R/Hr in the last chapter. Honestly, I wanted to focus on H/G in the beginning so that I wouldn’t feel bad overloading on R/Hr fluff later. Because, I believe life can be summed up in one statement that my new buddy Kelly shared with me: Love, peace, and Ron/Hermione! *I WAS ASKED HOW TO FIND THE WEDDING, AND THIS IS HOW: Search DayDreamingMuggle, and all of my stories will come up*
“Bloody hell,” Ron collapsed into a chair in Ginny’s room, tilting his head back and staring at the ceiling. He and Harry had just returned from the Apparition practice session. Hermione was sitting on the bed reading and Ginny was playing with Arnold on the floor.
“It went that badly, then?” Hermione inquired sympathetically, moving to kneel beside him, resting her clasped hands on Ron’s knee.
“You have no idea, Hermione,” he replied, still staring at the ceiling.
Harry, who plopped onto the ground next to Ginny, chuckled,
“Hermione, if you are at all attached to your boyfriend’s head, you will never let him Apparate. Unless you want to be dating a member of the Headless Hunt.”
“Oh, Ron! You splinched? I’m so sorry,” she said, looking concerned, “Did you use the three D’s? Because if you used them, there should be no reason-”
“Hermione, don’t mention the D’s to me, please. And what are you talking about, Harry? You didn’t do too well yourself.”
Harry’s laughter stopped abruptly. Ginny looked amused,
“You didn’t splinch did you?”
“No,” Harry said indignantly, “I just ended up Apparating a bit south of my intended location, that’s all.”
“Just south? Harry, you ended up in Australia! The Apparition instructor had to go and fetch him.”
Ginny and Ron laughed. Hermione looked torn.
“It’s not funny! Harry could have landed somewhere really dangerous!”
“Yeah, aren’t you lot the slightest bit worried that I could have landed in the ocean and had my head bit off by a shark?”
Ginny was positively rolling on the floor laughing.
“Ginny! Don’t you care? What if something had happened to me?”
“Please, Harry. After all of the things you’ve been through, I’d think you could handle landing a bit farther away than you had meant to go. Just the idea of you popping up in your robes on a sunny beach in Australia was quite funny, if you think on it.”
Harry saw the point, but he refused to laugh at himself. Hermione was still looking cross at Ginny and Ron’s laughter.
“How many more practice sessions do you two have before you test?”
“Two. One at the end of this week and another the day before the test,” Harry answered grateful that he was no longer an object of mockery.
“I’m sure it will come back to you. You’re just a bit rusty.”
Ron nodded fervently, seizing on this excuse,
“Yeah, that’s what it is, Harry. We’re just rusty.”
Harry hoped so. They would have to pass this exam to be able to set their plans in motion. His thoughts strayed to the fact that the Hogwarts letters should be here any minute now. He usually received his letter right after his birthday. The trio really needed to decide what they were going to tell Mrs. Weasley. As if reading his mind, Hermione spoke up,
“You all probably realize that we’re getting our Hogwarts letters very soon.”
There was a silence in the room in which Harry knew that everyone was thinking over what this meant. Hermione seemed determined to keep talking. Ron looked as though he was deciding whether or not to enter the lion’s arena with a chair or a cube of sugar. Ginny was surprisingly quiet. Her expression was blank, and though Harry thought it was odd that she still hadn’t asked, or told-as was more Ginny’s style-, them that she was going with them. Every time the topic came up, she would adopt this blank face. Harry didn’t argue. He loved Ginny, and while he wanted nothing more than for her to come, it wouldn’t be logical. She wasn’t of age until next August, and that would be an awfully long time to have to take care of her when she couldn’t use magic. So she would be safer, and Harry didn’t argue with Ginny’s lack of response in the conversations about Godric’s Hollow.
Hermione had begun to speak again,
“I was thinking that if I sat down with your mum, Ron, and explained the circumstances, that maybe she and I could come to a rational agreement that maybe-don’t take this the wrong way, Ron-you wouldn’t have the patience for.”
Ron contemplated for half a second and said,
“No, I think that’s a brilliant idea. You can probably make everything sound so much more important to her than I could.”
Hermione smiled up at Ron, and he squeezed her hands that were still in his lap.
“So, what are you going to do about your parents, Hermione?”
Hermione looked troubled.
“I thought I’d speak to Ron’s mum, see where that gets me before I write anything definite to my parents. I love them, but they don’t really understand the wizarding world. I’d like to see them once more before we go, just in case…” Hermione’s voice faded, and they all knew what the silence implied.
Harry said before he even thought about it,
“Look, Hermione, we’ll stop in at your parents before we go to Godric’s Hollow, alright?”
“Really?” Hermione looked so happy that Harry felt selfish for not having thought of this before. Of course she would want to see her parents.
“So, I’m wondering if I should talk to your mum now, Ron. Should I wait?”
“Too late,” Ginny said, speaking for the first time since the topic had fallen on the trip to Godric’s Hollow. She gestured out her window where the tiny, but unmistakable specks of four owls made their way towards the Burrow.
“Damn,” Hermione muttered, “We’d better go downstairs and I’ll try to talk to your mum now. Fred and George are at work, so you lot collect your letters, and find an excuse to go back upstairs. I’d rather those with less than subtle tempers not be in the room,” Hermione gave Ron, Harry, and Ginny a significant look.
They all feigned a look of innocence as they clambered down the stairs.
“Harry, I’ve just thought of it!” Hermione said sounding very concerned.
“What is it, Hermione?” Ron asked, placing a hand on her shoulder, looking worried.
“How could I have possibly forgotten?” Hermione looked positively stricken with guilt.
They were all worried about Hermione’s passionate outburst.
“Hermione, just tell us what’s wrong,” Ginny said, genuinely panicked now.
“What about Kreacher? Poor thing, I forgot all about him.”
Ginny and Ron rolled their eyes, fortunately, Hermione was too caught up in her thoughts of Harry’s inherited house elf. Harry held back a laugh. He knew better than to poke fun at Hermione and her elf rights.
“Well, I’ll have to write to McGonogall, but I expect she’ll let him stay on in the kitchens. I mean, it was what Dumbledore did,” Harry said quietly. Dumbledore had always shown compassion; often misplaced compassion, but Harry was sure that McGonogall would let Kreacher stay.
Hermione immediately dropped the subject. Any mention of Dumbledore’s name had them all attempting to change the subject all at one time. They were saved the effort, however, as they entered the kitchen and Mrs. Weasley nodded at the four letters sitting on the table.
“The owls just brought them, dears.”
Harry, Ron, and Ginny dashed to their letters. Before Mrs. Weasley could launch into the usual schedule of when they would shop for school things, Ron coughed and said in a halting voice,
“I…um…I need to go upstairs. Something I’ve forgotten.” He looked pleadingly at Harry as Hermione rolled her eyes. Harry thought she had rather been hoping for a lot or Ron to be able to quietly slip away from an argument.
“Yeah, I need him to help me write to Professor McGonogall, Mrs. Weasley. I have to ask her if Kreacher can stay in the kitchens again this year,” Harry said, smoothing over Ron’s stuttered excuses, glad that Hermione had brought Kreacher up in the first place.
“Oh, and I need to run upstairs, too,” Ginny said, looking believably concerned, as though she had really forgotten something, “I left Arnold out, and Crookshanks may have already eaten him.”
Harry realized that Ginny really had left Arnold out, and he streaked after her to help rescue Arnold. Thankfully, they reached Ginny’s room to find Arnold curled in a tight, frightened ball under Ginny’s bed where Crookshanks’ large body could not possibly fit. After saving Arnold, Harry, Ron and Ginny sat quietly, awaiting Hermione’s return. Harry couldn’t help but think that if this conversation went badly, the whole plan would go down the tubes. And so they waited, each one contemplating how many different ways this scenario could go.
A/N: It’s soooo short, I know. I’ve never written anything this short, but I really am going through something here, and I can’t concentrate (becoming pathetic girl who misses boyfriend that is thousands of miles away-now ex b/c of distance). I’m so sorry. If you have a heart, review this piece of crap that I had the nerve to post as an update. I swear, I’ll get over whatever it is that I’m going through and I’ll make up for my serious lack of anything good in this chapter. It was important, though. I did need to set up this scenario, I just hoped to do it better. Again…soooooo unbelievably sorry.
A/N: Wow, you guys rock my socks!!! Seriously, I’m loving your input, and you’re keeping me writing. So, enough with my talking. On with Chapter Three.
For about two minutes, Harry, Ron and Ginny sat in silence. Ginny played with Arnold, Harry stared at the floor, and Ron kept picking up a pillow and turning it over methodically in his lap. Harry looked up and watched Ron flip the small pillow. Over and over and over and over…
“I can’t take it,” Harry said suddenly.
Ron looked grateful that Harry had said something. Ginny merely looked amused.
“Do you think we should use some Extendable Ears, have a listen?” Ron asked excitedly.
“Good idea!” Harry exclaimed, “Do you have any?”
“Well, this is Ginny’s room. Ginny, do you have-”
“No,” Ginny said, and she wore the look of superiority that girls often adopted when they were thinking demeaning thoughts about boys. But she looked entertained as well.
“I don’t have any up in my room.” Ron said, looking glum, but then brightening, “Say, Harry, Fred and George gave you a box of stuff for your birthday. You reckon there’s some in there?”
Harry thought for a moment before replying,
“Most of the stuff had to do with defensive products. You know, stuff like the Decoy Detonators and the Instant Darkness Powder.”
“Fred and George don’t just sell that stuff anymore, you know,” Ginny said informatively, “Since Malfoy…well, you know, anyone who wants to buy from their Defensive Magic Line has to fill out all sorts of requirement papers.”
“Yeah, thanks, Ginny. But right now, we’re more interested in finding those Ears so we know what’s going on downstairs than getting a rundown on Fred’s and George’s purchase policies, thanks.” Ron said snidely.
“Well, excuse me for interrupting your stream of male based needs to eavesdrop on others’ conversations. Because, Merlin forbid, you wait till Hermione gets back.”
“Oh, c’mon, Ginny, you know you want to find out as much as we do,” Ron sniped back.
“I want to know, yes, Ron, but you see, I was blessed with a larger amount of intelligence than you. I think I got your share, actually, and I can calculate in my slightly larger brain that by the time we go to all the trouble of trying to listen in, Mum and Hermione will probably be done talking, and we can get a first-hand account of what happened from Hermione. Meanwhile, I can relax and not have to worry about wracking my slightly neglected brain for ways to nose round in their discussion.” Ginny said very calmly and mater of factly.
Ron opened his mouth to retort, and Harry, still trying to recall the exact contents of his gift, stopped Ron prolonging the fight,
“Stop, you two. Honestly, do you ever get along?”
But, as if proving Ginny’s point, the bedroom door opened, and a very battle worn Hermione crashed through the doorway and collapsed on the bed nest to Ron, her head in his lap. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Ron looked from Hermione to Harry to Ginny and then back to Hermione. No one spoke; they were all wondering how bad things had gotten downstairs. Harry knew that he would continue with his plans, no matter what Mrs. Weasley had said, but if he could come to terms with her. Any way to make it so that she blessed the journey instead of scorning it. He didn’t want to be another Percy, and he knew Ron and Hermione felt the same way. Ron stroked Hermione’s hair cautiously. He seemed to be weighing the pros and cons of asking her how things went. His curiosity won.
“Hermione,” he said slowly, “how did it go? I mean…are you alright?” He spoke very deliberately, and underneath the curiosity there was a waver of fear and concern in his voice. Harry knew Ron was hoping that Mrs. Weasley had been agreeable and that he was worried about Hermione’s reaction.
“Listen, don’t get mad, but we’ve come to terms, me and your mum, Ron. They may not be terms you like, but I agree with her on them.” She stopped speaking and Harry opened his mouth to encourage her to tell him the terms, but Ron gave a small jerk of his head, and Harry angrily closed his mouth. He wanted to know what had happened! Ron began to speak soothingly again, his hand still moving relaxingly over Hermione’s hair.
“Hermione, tell us what happened.” He said firmly, but with a note of definite affection that kept the request from becoming an order. Hermione gave another ragged sigh and began,
“Well, I sat down at the table, and I think she knew that something was coming because she asked me, just as I was thinking that I had to tell her, if there was something I needed to tell her. Now, my mum can do the same thing, so I wasn’t shocked that she knew-”
“So that’s not just witches, then?” Harry inquired curiously, Mrs. Weasley’s response to his plans driven momentarily from his mind by the acquisition of new knowledge about typical mothers. “I mean, all mothers can read minds?” The other three looked confused, and Harry mumbled, “Never mind.”
Hermione looked puzzle, but Ron gently prodded her, and she returned to the story,
“Anyway, I told her that, yes, I did need to tell her something, and she sat down too. She looked a bit sad, as though she knew I was going to tell her something that she wouldn’t want to hear. I told her that what I was about to say involved both Harry and Ron as well, but seeing as neither of you two are any good at calm, rational discussion, that I volunteered to talk to her. Then I asked her to hear me all the way through. And I told her what we planned. The whole story.”
Harry looked panicked. He had already broken his word to Dumbledore by telling Ginny about Tom Riddle and the Horcruxes. He didn’t think Dumbledore would have minded; Ginny was a big part of Harry’s life, and –if he ever had the chance to have one- his future as well. Dumbledore had allowed Harry to entrust the secret to those who he could trust with the secret: Ron and Hermione, and now Ginny. But, as much as he loved Mrs. Weasley, he thought that, somehow, telling Mrs. Weasley about everything would be a much bigger violation of Dumbledore’s trust. After all, he loved Mrs. Weasley, but he was in love with Ginny. That was the utmost bond and he felt he had the right to inform Ginny. Hermione seemed to know what Harry was thinking,
“Don’t worry, Harry,” she said with a small smile, “I only told her that you had a mission to complete that you had started before Dumbledore had died. I explained that it would take you away from Hogwarts, but it was something that you needed to do. Mrs. Weasley seemed upset, but she seemed almost ready to accept this until I told her that Ron and I had agreed to go with you, Harry. She was about to argue, I think, but I cut her off and asked her to hear me out. I told her that Ron and I were your best friends, and we weren’t about to abandon you when you needed us the most. I told her that after we’re through, and it’s all over, we intend to return to school and then go on to whatever careers we’re destined for. I told her that this was, simply, something we all had to do together, and that, though we didn’t technically need her permission, we were asking for it. I told her that it would mean a great deal to us if we knew that she was supporting us and that, no matter where we were; we knew that we always had a safe haven here with her. Well, then we both-”
“Let me guess,” Ron said under his breath, “you cried.”
Hermione batted his hand away from her hair and sat up.
“Honestly, Ron, what does it matter if we cried? You weren’t there, you don’t know that we did,” Hermione said huffily.
Ron grinned, “Oh, go on. You cried. We all know it.”
“If all you’re interested in is the emotional aspect of the conversation, Ron, then you can leave. I’ll tell Harry and Ginny the rest of the story seeing as they seem to care about the facts.”
Ron grabbed her by her chin, which was sticking up in the air, and pulled her face to him and kissed her soundly on the mouth. She struggled to maintain her air of anger as he pulled away. Ron smiled cheekily at her.
“I got to tell you, that is so much more satisfying than fighting with you. In fact, get mad at me again. Go on. Think of something else dimwitted that I must have said recently. Then we can fight and make up.”
“Oh, you two are sickening!” Ginny said from her seat on the floor, Arnold still in her lap. She had been listening intently, but had not commented on Hermione’s account of the events downstairs, “On with the story, then!”
Hermione blushed and Harry, too, agreed with Ginny and prompted Hermione to continue.
“So, as I was saying, Mrs. Weasley sat without speaking for a minute, and I was so sure that she was going to condemn us all for even thinking of going on this mission. But instead she told me that she would grant us permission and blessing on one condition. She said that since the N.E.W.T.s were cancelled at the end of last term, they’re giving two weeks for refresher courses and then they’re giving the tests at the end of September. She said that as long as we returned to Hogwarts, took the exams, and promised to go back to school once we’ve finished what we have to do, she would give us her full support. She told me to make sure that you know that no matter what we decide, she will always love us all and we will always have a safe haven with her, but she simply couldn’t support our decision.” Hermione finished the story and the room fell into thoughtful silence for a moment. Looking frantically for some type of response from anyone, Hermione finally blurted out,
“What do you guys think? I think it’s a good idea. I mean, at least this way, we’ve taken our N.E.W.T.s. The seventh year is really just to put a cap on what we already know. We retake the N.E.W.T.s at the end just to be sure that we’ve really taken in what we’ve been taught, but all in all, we’ll have everything out of the way in case in takes a while to, well, you know…do what needs to be done.” She said all of this very fast as though speaking quickly would automatically make her opinion law.
Harry thought carefully before he nodded.
“She’s right. Ron, I’d give nearly anything to have your mum’s support. Just so long as we can work on theories and try to get some sort of direction while we aren’t out there doing what needs to be done, I can wait until exams are over. It’s only till the end of September, Hermione, you’re sure?”
Hermione nodded fervently, her expression almost as glad as Ron’s was. They were both very pleased that Harry had agreed to Mrs. Weasley’s terms.
“The very latest would be the first week in October. But that’s the VERY latest,” Hermione added.
Harry made his final judgment.
“Ok. We’ll wait. Meanwhile, who’s hungry?”
Ron looked almost as grateful that Harry had mentioned food as he had looked when he realized he was receiving his mother’s support.
“Before we eat, I was thinking of something. Sort of something we could do to get ahead on the plans to search for the Horcruxes,” Hermione said.
Ron’s face fell, but Ginny and Harry looked interested. Ginny still hadn’t voiced an opinion, and Harry wondered, yet again, if she felt left out. He hoped not, and as he thought of it, he walked over to Ginny and sat in the chair behind her, pulling her back against his legs, and massaging her shoulders.
“What is it?” he asked Hermione.
“Well, you got that Penseive for your birthday, and I was thinking…I mean you don’t have to if you think it’s too personal, but I think you should put you memories of Voldemort in there. You know, anything you can remember about all of your encounters. And maybe…maybe the night Dumbledore died.”
Harry’s hands tensed and Ginny reached one of her small, delicate ones to squeeze his sympathetically and reassuringly.
“You don’t have to, Harry,” Hermione said quickly, “I was just thinking-”
“No,” Harry said, and Hermione looked ashamed at having asked, but Harry continued, “No, you’re right. That’s a good idea. You lot may see something I’ve missed. You know an outsider’s perspective. You weren’t there, so you may be able to spot things I couldn’t. Mind you, they aren’t happy memories. You lot will see things that you could probably go your whole lives without seeing,” Harry said flatly.
Ron spoke first this time,
“Well, mate, we’re tagging along with you, and chances are, we’re probably going to see those things anyway. Especially is we’re chasing You-Know-Who around, right?”
Hermione reached over and grasped Ron’s hand in hers, giving him a smile that said,
Harry nodded, and said,
I s’pose you’re right. Although, Ron, if we’re tracking Voldemort down, you should probably get over saying his name don’t you think?” Harry asked, lightly, laughter returning to his voice.
Everyone laughed, and the tension eased out of the room.
“Ok, now I’m really starved.” Ron said emphatically, “Can we please eat?”
“Alright, alright, alright,” Hermione said exasperated, “we’ll feed you. Let’s go.”
She and Ron walked hand in hand out of the room and Harry stood to help Ginny to his feet, his mind wandering to how lunch with Mrs. Weasley was going to go.
“You’ll be fine, Harry. She’ll be happy you’ve accepted her terms.” Ginny said, putting her arm round Harry’s waist.
“Is that something girls just inherit?” He asked, flabbergasted, “The reading minds thing?”
Ginny chuckled and kissed him,
“Hmm…guess you’ll never really know, will you?”
And he slung his arm around her shoulders as they made their way toward the kitchen.
A/N: You cannot possibly know how much your words mean to me, and so I ask you to review. PLEASE! And if you ever want to e-mail me, my address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A/N: It’s really hard for me to have time to update…I’m so sorry and I’m really making an effort to post. I feel like if I wait too long between updates, you’re going to all lose whatever modicum of interest you’ve developed for my interpretation of events. So, read on my friends!
The swirl of silvery liquidy smoke that usually distorted Harry’s reflection was not there. Harry stared confusedly into his brand new Pensieve, and he saw only his very clear reflection in an unfamiliar, yet just as unnamable substance as that which normally found itself settled in the small basin. He had no idea how to make this magical item work. He’d only ever seen people add memories to it, or he’d entered them without permission.
Hermione, Ron, and Ginny sat anxiously on the edges of both Harry’s and Ron’s beds. Harry was planning on shooing Ginny from the room before he, Ron, and Hermione entered the first memory. Harry felt that they should start from the memory of the Triwizard Tournament. He didn’t want Ginny to see that. He didn’t want Ron and Hermione to see it either, but he appreciated that they could probably find the experience useful. They might be able to pick things out that he hadn’t seen or recognized at the time, and they would have an idea of just how horrible Voldemort could really be. No surprises when or if they met up with Voldemort. Ginny didn’t need to see it. He was adamant on that. But, for now, he was just trying to figure out how to work the thing.
“Harry?” Hermione questioned, softly. She was aware of the fact that Harry was having a very hard time allowing them to see inside these memories, and she didn’t want to push him, but she wanted to know what was wrong.
“Harry, what’s wrong?” Ginny said, realizing how hesitantly Hermione was posing the question. Ginny didn’t care about pushing Harry; she wanted to know what was wrong and she would get it out of him.
Harry turned around, and the trio sitting, waiting anxiously for an expression of reluctance or foreboding were instead faced with an undeniable air of confusion.
“Um, well, you see…I don’t really know how to…I’m not sure how I, you know, out the memories in the Pensieve,” Harry said abashedly.
Ginny laughed out loud, Ron looked amused, and Hermione seemed incredulous.
“You mean to tell me that you spent almost more time last year in the Pensieve than you did out of it, and you don’t know how to extract memories and put them in?” Hermione said in a tone that conveyed obvious amazement.
Harry was immediately defensive,
“Dumbledore was a bit more concerned with showing me all I needed to defeat Voldemort, Hermione. It wasn’t a classroom, you know, the Basics of Using Your New Pensieve.”
Hermione looked ashamed, and Ron looked thoroughly chastised-even though he hadn’t said anything-but Ginny spoke up,
“Harry, don’t do that. Don’t bring him up to make her feel bad. She was just marveling at the fact that you’ve had so much exposure to Pensieves, but you’re not sure how to go about working it. It’s no reason to bite her head off.”
She spoke softly, but the scolding tone was clearly underlying. Harry had enough sense to sigh and say,
“You’re right, Ginny. I’m sorry, Hermione, I just…I should know, that’s all.”
Hermione nodded, and Ron squeezed her hand saying,
“It’s alright, Harry, we know it’s hard on you, mate, but we’re on your side, you know?” Ron kept his voice light, but Harry understood that he was serious.
Hermione jumped up, letting go of Ron’s hand. He looked up, surprised at her outburst,
“Hermione, what?” Ron asked, but he didn’t finish the question.
“If…but, yes, I think it would be there…not sure, can’t hurt to check,” Hermione said absentmindedly as she drifted, her mind occupied, towards the door.
Harry, Ron, and Ginny watched her walk out the door, and Ron spoke,
“I just love it when she tells us exactly what’s going through her mind, you know, because don’t we just hate it when she leaves us hanging.”
Ginny giggled, then said,
“I think we should follow her. Ron, don’t you have a manual, or something? You know, What to Do When You’re Girlfriend Goes Temporarily Mental? We could use it right about now.”
“Shut up, Ginny,” Ron snarled.
“You were just making fun of her, you hypocrite,” Ginny said angrily.
“Yeah, but, I’m allowed to poke fun at her; it’s what I do. You’re not,” Ron retorted.
“Oh, please, Ron-” Ginny began, but Harry walked over and put his arm around her shoulders.
“Do you two ever stop fighting? Don’t answer that,” he said quickly a Ginny glared up at him, “Listen, you’re right, Ginny, we should follow her. I assume she’s found whatever it is she’s looking for by now. C’mon.”
The brother and sister stared daggers at one another,
“Truce, guys, we have to follow Hermione right now,” Harry said, tightening his arm around Ginny in a manner that said very clearly, “Get on with it, now.”
They nodded at each other, forming a temporary ceasefire, and Harry steered Ginny towards the stairs, tucking the Pensieve under his arm. Ron trailed after them.
When Ginny opened the door to her room, they were met with the sight of books, scattered all over the floor, Hermione, barely visible, sprawled in the midst of the many volumes.
Ron laughed heartily at the sight and said in a half amused half exasperated voice,
“Hermione, what are you doing?” he inquired, flopping down as close to Hermione as he could get, what with all the debris of literature nearly creating a wall around her.
“Hold on,” she said, not even glancing up.
The bed was covered in books, as was most of the floor space, leaving only one chair open as seating options for Harry and Ginny. Harry sat down and pulled Ginny into his lap. She settled comfortably against his chest, and Harry felt that he could stay here forever. It just seemed right. Hermione buried in books, Ron at her side, looking lovingly at her, even though Harry knew he was completely exasperated with her. Ginny leaning against Harry, her weight comforting in his lap. He brushed a kiss across her temple, and she turned her head, smiled, and gave him a small kiss.
“Ha!” came Hermione’s triumphant cry, and Harry was jolted back to the present.
“What?” Ron asked.
“I found it! In Magical Items and Their Uses: A Complete Guide to Any and All Magical Items and How to Use Them.”
“All of that fit on the cover of that book?” Ron inquired, “Why is it that book titles are so long? Why can’t they just say ‘This is the book you’re looking for’, and that could be the end of it?” Ron ranted.
Hermione silenced him with a glare and continued,
“I knew I had something that would tell you how to use the Pensieve. I just had to find it. Here it is:
‘The Pensieve is among one of the most useful and rare inventions of wizard kind. Invented by Toban Goodkin in 1437, the Pensieve allows the owner to review their own memories from an objective point of view. This allows him/her to make connections he/she had not been able to make when the occurrence actually happened. It also takes a load of his/her mind, giving the chance for the owner to take in new information and face ever new day with a fresh outlook.’
“Okay, it’s an advertisement. When does it tell me how to use this wonderful product?” Harry asked sarcastically.
“Get off my back, Harry, I’m getting there,” Hermione said briskly, evidently immersed in her reading enough that she didn’t hesitate to make a retort without worrying about Harry’s reaction.
Harry, very wisely, returned to his silent state when Ginny elbowed him gently and gave him a look that said,
“Cut it out.”
‘To use the Pensieve, one must think up the memory he/she is attempting to transfer into the device. They must then put a wand to his/her temple and think the incantation ‘memorabius’ drawing the wand slowly away. A small, silvery thread should trail from the wand, and it can either be transferred directly into the Pensieve or into another receptacle before being transferred into the Pensieve. The surface of the Pensieve should turn from clear to smoky.’
“It’s actually quite fascinating; the description of why and what the substance inside the Pensieve is what it is. It’s-”
“No offense, Hermione, I would like to know, really, but I think we should get to putting my memory into the Pensieve, you know,” Harry said, trying to speak in a calm tone, lest Ginny elbow him again.
“Oh, of course, you’re right,” Hermione said, “I was just thinking out loud.”
“Hermione, how on earth are you going to fit all that into your trunk? Come to think of it, how did you get all of those books here in the first place?” Ron asked as Hermione began gathering and stacking books.
“Well, the first thing I did when I became of age was to write to Mum and Dad. I asked them to send all the books I had had to leave at home because they didn’t fit in my trunk. They sent them over the course of a few months, and I was able to acquire all the books I’d wanted to.”
“And this is because…” Ron queried.
“Because I can charm them now, and fit them all into my trunk!” Hermione said, as though stating the obvious.
“Oh,” said Ron, shooting Harry a look that said, ‘Of course! What was I thinking?’
They all watched in avid fascination as Hermione checked and double checked that she had gathered all of the books scattered about the room, and then, when she seemed to be content and sure of her collection on the bed, she whispered an incantation. The books tied themselves together and shrunk to the size of a matchbox. She slipped them into a small, velvet bag and put the bag in her trunk.
“Ok, shall we go, then? We should get to the Pensieve, shouldn’t we?” Hermione asked.
“Yeah, she’s right,” Ginny said, “We should get that done now so that we have time to recover before dinner. This is pretty traumatic,” she said seriously, “we should give ourselves time to put ourselves back together; put on a face for Mum, you know.”
Hermione nodded, in agreement, and Harry shifted uncomfortably and Ron looked deliberately at the ceiling. Harry knew that Ron stood in the same place as Harry on the whole issue of Ginny going into the Pensieve. This was the moment that Harry had dreaded. He was going to have to address his feelings now.
“Ginny, listen. I don’t want you coming with us.”
“What?!?” Ginny shrieked, attempting to move from Harry’s lap.
He tightened his arms around her waist, binding her to the spot. He didn’t want her walking off.
“Oh, honestly, I’m not going to walk out. No need to resort to Neanderthal means of force to keep me here. But I swear, Harry Potter, if you don’t let me go right now, I will slap you,” Ginny bit off each word with anger.
Harry let her go and stood up. He felt like he should rise to this fight.
“Why is it that you can tell me you love me, tell me that I mean so much to you and then cut me out of this? How on earth can you mean all those things and then do this? Were you lying, Harry? Only saying what you thought I wanted to hear?” she spoke calmly, but with such disdain in her tone that Harry was not fooled. She just wasn’t the type e to engage in a shouting match with anyone but Ron or one of her other family members. With Harry, he knew, it was going to be calm rationale.
“Ginny, that’s not it. You know I love you; you know that. I just don’t want you to see this. It’s bad…really bad.”
“Oh, so it’s really bad. I must not be able to handle it. The real world must be that far from my grasp, Harry, that I can’t be involved in something this close to you. It might be too real for me, is that it?”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” Harry’s blood was beginning to boil. How could she say these things? She was completely missing that he loved her enough to protect her.
“I know you think that you just love me enough to protect me, but think a bit more deeply than that, Harry.”
Harry was too slow, getting over the fact that she knew him so well, and he missed his chance to throw in a retort.
“You are so blinded by nobility and doing what’s right for other people, Harry, and I love you so I accept that, but this is just ridiculous. Sometimes, what you think is right for a person isn’t what’s right for them. What’s right for me is to be able to understand what you went through. There’s a big part of your life that Hermione, Ron, and I don’t understand. They’re you’re best friends, and they should understand, but I’m a big part of your life too. At least I hope I am.”
“You are,” Harry said, feeling as though he needed to reassure her of this fact, at least. He thought maybe she was right, but he still wasn’t keen on her seeing Cedric die.
“Listen, Harry that was a low blow. I’m not trying to make you profess your undying love, alright? I just want you to respect me enough to let me in on this, to let me see what you went through. Don’t you think it will bring us closer? Not that that’s the only reason for me to go, but it’s a factor you should consider.”
She was silent. Harry was hesitant to speak.
“I’m done, Harry. Whatever you decide is your choice, and I won’t try and change your mind. I just want you to know that I can handle it.”
Harry thought that this was one of those defining moments in a couple’s relationship, and he wanted to do what was right. True, if he let Ginny come, she may be scarred, but maybe she wouldn’t be. She’d truly proven that she could handle tragedy, and she was strong. Harry knew that. So, he said,
“Yeah, alright. You can come, Ginny. I don’t think less of you than Ron and Hermione; it’s just that I wanted you to be safe, you know. I didn’t want you to see this. But, you’re strong enough, I know that. If you want to see, than you can absolutely see. I’m sorry I tried to keep this from you.”
Though he meant what he said, Harry felt like he was reciting from the handbook of things boys do to keep their girlfriends from being angry with them. If such a manual existed, Harry thought to himself that he needed to pick it up.
Ginny nodded and hugged Harry,
“Thank you.” She said softly, and simply.
Harry knew the matter was closed, and though Ron still looked a bit unsure of Harry’s decision to let his baby sister come along, Hermione seemed satisfied by the outcome.
“Right, then, let’s get this done, shall we?” Hermione asked, heading for the door.
The rest followed, and Harry wondered how this was going to play out. He was not looking forward to this, and he knew that his friends were not going to take this well. But he would be there for Ginny and Ron would be there for Hermione. Things might be better once his friends began to understand what he’d been through over the last years. Time would tell.
A/N: OK. Now we’re moving…slowly, but we’re moving along. Next chapter will reveal more insight. This was sort of necessary filler. I threw some fluff in too because, I’m a romantic at heart. I know Ms. Rowling wouldn’t have put that much mushy stuff, but I wanted it in there. Please review guys!
A/N: So, I have MADE time to write this. I find myself getting into my own story. I’ve been living in Harry’s world for the past week, and I thought that the reason I couldn’t pull myself back to reality was because I was supposed to be writing this. Weird and philosophical, but whatever pulls me back to the real world. I’ll let you know if this is what the doctor ordered.
The flash flew into the air and Harry watched as it passed by him and the other him and hit Cedric square in the chest. He hadn’t seen it coming then, and he had almost missed where it was coming from now. But he knew; he remembered with a vivid clarity that he wished with all his might that he could find a way to fade. Ginny stood next to him, her face held in a firm expression that told Harry she really was strong enough for this.
The group had entered the Pensieve, after carefully monitoring that Mrs. Weasley was otherwise occupied, and they were assured a half an hour of peace.
Ron and Hermione stood on the other side of Ginny. Hermione was combating tears, though she was doing remarkably well, and Ron was pale, but remained stalwart in his attempts at a brave façade. The group moved silently towards the headstone where Harry was now being forcibly bound to by Wormtail. No one spoke; they followed Harry’s lead. Harry felt so many things moving about inside him. He looked back towards Cedric’s body; he knew now that there really hadn’t been anything he could have done. But he shouldn’t have died! This wasn’t about him! This was about Harry! Why did he ever even suggest that they both take the cup? Harry felt angry needles form behind his eyes, and he blinked back the tears fiercely. Ron was holding up, Ginny wasn’t crying, and though Hermione had silent tracks of moisture flowing down her face, she was standing tall, looking completely capable of handling this gracefully. If they could do it, he could too.
Ginny wrapped an arm around her waist, and whispered,
“Harry, you don’t have to be strong all of the time. Lean on me a bit. It’s what I’m here for.”
He loved her more than anything at that moment. And he relaxed into her strong hold and, though pride wouldn’t allow the tears to come, he felt immensely better to have Ginny supporting him. Harry watched now as Voldemort rose from the cauldron. Hermione was apparently still reeling from Wormtail’s sacrifice, though she remained standing and fought the urge to retch. Harry was glad he had been speaking to Ginny so that she had not witnessed the dismemberment. That didn’t repress the shudder she gave off when she heard Wormtail’s scream.
As Voldemort rose, the whole group backed up a bit, even though this was a memory.
“Harry, we can move about, can’t we?” Hermione’s shaky voice floated over Wormtail’s sobs.
“What? Oh, yeah, I guess,” Harry said, a bit puzzled.
Hermione then took a deep breath, as though collecting herself, and began to move towards Voldemort and the headstone where Harry was bound. She was listening intently to everything that was happening and as the Death Eaters appeared, Ron followed a few paces behind.
“You can go too, Ginny,” Harry said, though he rather thought that if she moved her arm, he might keel over. He had never thought he would be viewing this again.
“Seriously, Harry, Hermione’s taking in every word and nuance. I don’t need to listen to every word up close. You need me, and I’m staying here.”
She spoke in a tone that said very clearly that there was to be no arguing with her. They stood watching Hermione move among the Death Eaters. Ron had stopped and was watching Voldemort in a mixture of fear, apprehension, and complete attention. Harry viewed it all over again. This time, there was much less physical pain, but now that he wasn’t fighting for his life, he could look behind him and see Cedric’s body, limp next to the metal of the Triwizard Cup, made dull by the fog of the cemetery. Harry’s mind wandered over the next minutes. He heard in the back of his mind the things he had heard Voldemort say a dozen times in the nightmares he’d had of this experience. He tuned them out and wondered how Cedric’s parents were. Did they decide that it was indeed Harry’s fault? They hadn’t really believed it before, but a lot could happen in two years. What if they had realized that if Cedric hadn’t taken the cup with Harry, he wouldn’t have been made prey to a trap set for Harry in the first place? What if they figured out what Harry had known all along: that Cedric needn’t have died because all Voldemort wanted was Harry? Regrets and thoughts of what would have been ran through Harry’s mind until Ginny’s arm tightened around his waist.
Harry looked down and saw that there were unshed tears in her eyes, but her face was still set in an expression that showed how strong she was. She nodded towards the location where Voldemort and Harry were now in the air, surrounded by the beams of light the wands had created. Ginny gently led Harry towards that location and they moved slowly to the place where Hermione, her mouth open and her face screwed up in fierce concentration was standing in front of a blank faced Ron, both avidly watching the spectacle before them. Ginny moved Harry close enough for her to be able to hear and see what was taking place. Her arm supported Harry while she was obviously taking in all that was happening. Harry had to admit, it did look very different from this angle.
He saw the smoky form of his mother pop her head out of his wand, and though to himself, yet again, that he couldn’t believe he’d yet to visit his parent’s graves. He felt as though he’d let them down. He wondered if Sirius and Dumbledore were with his mother and father now. He could find some comfort, at least, in that. Of course the larger comfort would have been to have them all here with him. Would he be joining the ranks soon? He wasn’t quite ready to be a part of that just yet, though. There were things he wanted to do first. He let his mind travel down that path of things he’d like to do when all of this was over and before he knew it, Ginny was whispering,
“Harry, you’ve gone back with Cedric now. You have to pull us out of the memory.”
Sure enough, the memory had faded to black and all four of them were standing, seemingly, in the abyss. He remembered what Hermione had told him before they had entered the Pensieve: that in order to leave, everyone inside the memory had to connect to another until they were all linked to Harry. Then Harry would think of Ron’s room, and they could leave, much in the fashion of Apparition. Ginny kept a supporting arm around Harry and she used the other hand to take Ron’s who put his arm around Hermione’s shoulders. She wrapped hers around his waist, and Harry pictured Ron’s bedroom. They left the Pensieve with the familiar sensation Harry was so accustomed to, and landed back in Ron’s room.
Ginny was really all that was keeping Harry standing: he needed to sit down. He looked over at Ron and Hermione. Their faces were both grim, but Harry noted that Ron was not supporting Hermione on his own, nor was she the only one supporting him: they were supporting one another. Each was helping the other to remain in an upright position until both of them collapsed onto Ron’s bed. Ron lied down and Hermione sat at the foot of the bed, but their hands remained linked. Harry thought to himself that the experience had to have been rough on Ginny. He should be supporting her, but instead, she was supporting him. There was enough male ego in him that this bothered Harry. He summoned up the remaining energy he had and led Ginny to his bed. He let her sit there, and sat on the ground, leaning against his own bed, facing Ron’s bed.
There was silence as Hermione dried the tears on her cheeks and let out a tremulous sigh. Harry knew she was switching gears into research and analysis mode. He was glad for it; at least they would be getting somewhere with this horrible experience relived.
“Harry, I know this must have been hard to see again. Thank you for letting us in. I mean that,” Hermione said kindly. She seemed genuinely glad at being allowed into the part of Harry’s life that he usually kept to himself.
“But, I have some things that made me wonder, one thing in particular, actually. The thing that happened with your wands. I think I’ve read about it. You never…I mean, you hadn’t mentioned exactly what had happened to us before, so I couldn’t be sure, but now that I’ve seen it, I think I know what happened between the two wands. But if it is, then that means that there’s something about your wand that you may not know, Harry. I don’t know that you’ll take it well.”
Harry thought he knew where she was going with this, but in the way that Hermione has when she gets started, she continued without waiting for a response.
“You see, I once read something that said that in the case that two brother wands, wands with identical cores that is, won’t necessarily work properly against one another. The spell that occurs is known as ‘Priori Incantatem’. The description the book gave of past occurrences of this spell was vague; there have only been three documented cases of it happening. But it matches fairly well with what we witnessed. That means, Harry that, if I’m right, your wand and Voldemort’s have the same core.”
Harry knew that this was the time to tell her what no one except for Albus Dumbledore and Olivander knew. He knew that he was also going to have to tell her that she was right on with her assumptions. Why did she always have to be right? It brought up the fact that he’d never told his friends, in depth, exactly what happened that night.
“Hermione, the core of my wand is a phoenix feather. It came from Fawkes’s tail. Fawkes only ever gave two feathers to be used in wands. One went to mine…and one went to Voldemort’s.”
Harry sighed as Hermione opened her mouth in shock. Harry felt Ginny sit up on the bed as Ron simply covered his face with his hands, as if to physically force in all that he was hearing. Harry continued,
“Ollivander told me when I bought my wand, but only he and Dumbledore knew. I didn’t want to tell anyone else. I didn’t want anyone to make the connection between me and Voldemort. After all, everyone told me that the wand chooses the wizard and I didn’t want anyone to think I was headed in that direction, you know? And while I’m making confessions here, I’ll tell you that, yet again, Hermione, you’re right. What happened was ‘Priori Incantatem’. Dumbledore told me that in the rare occurrence of two brother wands being forced to duel, they won’t work properly and the last spells that were done would spout from one of the wands. That’s what happened that night.”
Ron’s hands remained on his face, Ginny moved gracefully off the bed and settled next to Harry. She didn’t grab his hand, or offer any physical support, but Harry was comforted by her presence, and he knew that was why she had moved to sit next to him. Hermione seemed to be taking all of this in much in the way Harry imagined a goldfish might absorb new information. Her mouth opened then closed, then opened again,
“Harry, this means more than what I had thought! I had started to think that it was going to be impossible for you to face Voldemort in person if this was what happened when you dueled, but now it’s so clear!”
Ron sat up and said,
“I have no idea where you’re going with this, Hermione,” he turned a pale, lost face to Harry and Ginny and said, “Does anyone else feel like she’s just on a higher level than the rest of the world? Because I have no clue what she’s getting at.”
Harry was right there with him, but Ginny seemed to be picking it up because she gave a sudden gasp,
“Harry!” she clasped a hand on his thigh and looked him in the eye, “Who did you say knew that your wand and Voldemort’s shared the same core?”
“Just Dumbledore and Ollivander, why?” Harry told her, still very lost.
“Harry, don’t you see,” Hermione seemed ex cited and glad that Ginny had picked up on the thread that Harry and Ron could not grasp, “You told Dumbledore and Ollivander! Remember that Ollivander went missing last summer? Don’t you suppose that Voldemort was pretty put out that he wasn’t able to duel properly with his wand? How do you suppose he was to go about finding a solution? Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see him wasting time researching once he figured out what happened. He’d want to know how he could get around the ‘Priori Incantatem’ spell and duel with you properly. So he would go straight to the source: Ollivander. Harry, that’s why Ollivander went missing.”
“So, you’re saying that You-Know-Who captured Ollivander to try and figure out how to use his wand against Harry?” Ron said slowly.
“Maybe he wasn’t captured,” Ginny chimed in, “Maybe he went willingly. If Voldemort offered him enough to help out, who knows, right? Did anyone really know what side Ollivander was on to begin with?”
There was a general acknowledgement of Ginny’s statement as they all sat in quiet thought. Harry thought to himself that this could very well be true. He marveled at Hermione’s ability to connect those dots, though. Apparently Ron was too, as he was watching Hermione with such adoration that Harry wanted simultaneously to be sick and to applaud the match that his best friends made together. Then, it was as if they all remembered the rest of the memory. A feeling of gloom covered the excitement of the new discovery. Harry decided to speak, but Ron beat him to it,
“You know, mate, that was some pretty bad stuff back there, but…you know, we'll get through it. I think we’re all just really glad you let us in there, mate. You sort of kept that bit of your life off limits, you know, and now that we’re gonna do this thing at Godric’s Hollow, we needed to know. No matter how hard it was to see, we needed to know.” Ron’s face was, indeed, drawn and Harry was sure that Ron was thinking of the nightmares he would have that night, but his words rung true. Hermione nodded her agreement as did Ginny.
“Well, I thought you guys could handle it, and I needed your help.”
Ginny seemed to sense the sorrow creeping its way into Harry’s system, and she cut it off at the quick.
“Hey, let’s go play some Quidditch in the orchard, huh? Boys versus girls.”
Catching Ginny’s drift, Ron joined in,
“Are you kidding? Harry and I would kill you two!”
“You think so do you, Ron?” Hermione, thought usually disapproving of this sort of grief counseling, appeared to think along the same lines as the others, “You are so sure of yourself! How do you know that I haven’t just hid my amazing Quidditch skills from you thus far? Maybe I’m really good, and I’ve just been pretending to be horrible.”
Saying this, she got up off the bed, pulling Ron by the hand out into the hallway. Harry and Ginny started to rise and made to follow them. Harry could hear Ron’s response as the couple was clomping down the stairs,
“Oh, please, Hermione, you’re absolute rubbish!”
At Hermione’s insulted huff, Harry heard him add hurriedly,
“But that’s why I love you! If you could beat me at Quidditch, I don’t know what I’d do.”
“So, you’re saying that you would doubt the entire basis of a relationship just because a girl could beat you at Quidditch? That’s so typically male, Ron!”
Harry chuckled as the sound of Ron and Hermione fighting echoed up to Ron’s room.
Before leaving, Harry pulled Ginny into a hug.
“Thanks, Ginny. I couldn’t have gone through that again without you there,” he whispered into her hair.
He felt her sigh, and pull away. Her face had a grim smile upon it,
“You should trust me to be there for you, Harry. You don’t always have to go through everything by yourself, you know? Now, let’s go play some Quidditch. If I tell you that I’m going to squash you out there, will you get all, what was it ‘typically male’ on me?”
Harry smiled genuinely and responded,
“No, I love that you can beat me at Quidditch. But you have to try really hard!”
Ginny laughed and gave him a quick kiss,
“You wish! Now, let’s go.”
As Harry traipsed down the steps behind Ginny, he thought that, perhaps she was right: he didn’t have to do everything on his own. He was glad that he had let her come; that he had let his friends in. He now had so much more to consider and then there were more memories to look over: namely the memory of Dumbledore’s death. But for now, he was content to go out and play Quidditch with his best friends and his girlfriend. However, when he walked behind Ginny through the kitchen, he saw Ron and Hermione had stopped and were looking at Mrs. Weasley. She looked distinctly put out at the parchment she held in her hands. Harry stopped short and looked around. The other three wanted just as much as he did to know why Mrs. Weasley was so put out about whatever was written on that parchment. But no one wanted to ask. Harry did see a letterhead at the top of the envelope lying on the corner of the table. It read: The Ministry of Magic: Urgent.
A/N: Ok, so I’m leaving it there. Draw what conclusions you may, but my dear friend Macca is the only one who knows what the letter truly holds, seeing as it was her suggestion that gave me the inspiration. So if you still want to know what’s going to happen, let me know so that I can continue to write. Again, I do apologize for the IMMENSELY slow update. I’ll try to be better. But *surprise* I’ve actually developed a social life in my new town. Yay! So, review please! I beg of you!
A/N: Thanks so much to my loyal readers. You who have the courage to stick with me, following blindly hoping that I’m actually going somewhere. So, what does the letter say? Read on, friends, read on.
The letter trembled in Mrs. Weasley’s hand. The four youths eyed one another, each willing the other to speak. Mrs. Weasley’s expression was not grief-stricken or angry, just very peeved. Though she had been nearly normal earlier at lunch, not mentioning the trio’s trip to Godric’s Hollow, Harry knew that no one was anxious to draw attention to anything that may somehow lead round to the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione would not be immediately completing their education. Silence stretched thinner and thinner. Mrs. Weasley seemed to be oblivious to their presence, and when Hermione could bear it no more, she gave Ron a not so gentle nudge in the ribs.
“Ow! What was that for?” Ron said loudly.
His mother didn’t even look over; her eyes remained frozen on the parchment. Hermione rolled her eyes and jerked her head towards Mrs. Weasley. Ron shook his head in short refusal of what Hermione was goading him to do. She fixed him with a glare and he glared right back until he heaved a great sigh and turned towards his mother.
“Mum?” he questioned slowly, “Is everything…all right?”
Mrs. Weasley gave a start and looked up to see the four standing about the kitchen. She looked pointedly at Ginny and said with a reluctant air,
“Ginny, dear, this concerns you. Rubbish, in my opinion.”
She handed the letter to Ginny, and Harry leaned in to read over her shoulder. Ron and Hermione crossed the threshold, Ron standing next to Harry and Hermione next to Ginny as they all read the letter. Harry felt a knot tighten in his stomach as he read,
To the Parents and/or Guardians of Underage Witches and/or Wizards,
In light of the difficult times ahead and following recent and significant tragic events, it has been made evident that severe action must be taken to protect the youth of our community. Therefore, a new and perhaps temporary law has been passed to better the safety and security of our young witches and wizards. With parental consent, witches and wizards may be given the option to use magic outside of school at the minimum age of fourteen. This can only be done with the agreement of the underage witch/wizard’s parents and/or guardian. The witches and wizards who have been given this privilege will be subject to the same laws as those who are Of Age, although it should be made clear that these subject are still UNDERAGE. Their parents/guardians still wield the control, but we at the Ministry feel that if they are given the option to be able to defend themselves should the need arise, there will be far less tragedies to fend with in the hard times to come. Forms are included for parents of witches and wizards between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.
Minister of Magic
Harry finished reading and saw that Hermione and Ginny had already completed the letter and were communicating silently. Ron continued to read and the knot in Harry’s stomach tightened. The foreshadowing of tragedies to come did not help his mental well-being, that was for sure. He felt somewhat comforted that Ginny would be able to defend herself legally should any trouble arise at Hogwarts this year, but the idea that Rufus Scrimgeour, admittedly one of the least intelligent people Harry had ever had the displeasure of meeting, could see the horrors that would surely occur through this war did not comfort Harry at all. Ron looked up and he glanced at Harry. The four of them all exchanged looks that said the same thing, as their gazes were inexplicably drawn to Mrs. Weasley, who was hammering about in the kitchen, washing and scouring muttering to herself. Would she allow Ginny to be able to legally use magic?
“Unbelievable! What a ridiculous notion!” she muttered.
Ginny seemed to take control; after all, this concerned her.
“Mum,” she said in a placating tone, “It’s not so ridiculous.”
Mrs. Weasley turned around. The brush she was using to scrub the pot in the sink continued to move methodically in circles. Mrs. Weasley eyed Ginny and said,
“What do you mean? Of course it is! Fourteen year old witches and wizards should not be allowed to use magic outside of school! They aren’t ready for it!”
Ginny drew herself up to her full height; it made her taller than Mrs. Weasley, but not by much.
“I seem to recall that Harry wasn’t old enough to face what was in the Triwizard Tournament at fourteen. It was meant for seventeen year olds, wasn’t it? And look, he came out of it! He surpassed those who were older than he was!”
Mrs. Weasley smiled and spoke kindly,
“Ginny, dear, of course he did, but he’s special. We all know that. Those were different circumstances.”
Where Harry knew Ginny’s temper would begin to boil, he was surprised to see her face fill with a sort of sadness as she perched herself on the end of a kitchen chair. This was not what Harry expected and clearly Mrs. Weasley had expected a loud fight as well because she sat down across from Ginny and waited with a curious expression. She didn’t know what to expect any more than Harry, Ron, and Hermione did. The three grouped together to watch Mrs. Weasley and Ginny.
“Mum, I know you don’t want to sign this. And I understand why, really, I do. But, you still control what I do and where I go, Mum. I’m not coming of age earlier; this just allows me to use my magic if I need to. What if…what if Voldemort,”
Mrs. Weasley shuddered, but Ginny continued,
“What if he came after me, Mum? I need to be able to defend myself without having any reservations. Even if it’s not Voldemort. I have a feeling the Slytherins are going to get pretty nasty this year, and if we aren’t allowed to watch our own backs, it’s going to be rough.”
Ginny finished, looking anxiously at her mother. Mrs. Weasley’s thoughts were clear on her face. She was afraid of losing her last child. She no longer had any legal say in what any of her other children did, but she could still exercise some control over Ginny. Harry stepped away from Ron and Hermione to sit next to Ginny. He was going to take a big risk, but he wanted Mrs. Weasley to sign those papers. So he took Ginny’s hand on the table and looked at Mrs. Weasley,
“Mrs. Weasley, it’s very important that Ginny be able to legally use magic outside of school. See, now that we’re together, and even if we weren’t, Voldemort would know…well he’d be able to tell…” this was much more awkward to explain to Mrs. Weasley out loud than it had been in his head. Ginny gave his hand a reassuring squeeze, and he took a breath and continued, “He’ll know how much Ginny means to me, Mrs. Weasley, and he’ll come after her in any way he can. She needs to be ready at all times.”
Harry finished and wondered at his own pretentiousness. He couldn’t believe he had just sat there and not only told Mrs. Weasley how strongly he felt for her daughter (something he thought he’d never do) but he also presumed to tell her how to do her job as a mother.
He could feel Ron and Hermione waiting as anxiously behind him as he was sitting next to Ginny. Ginny seemed surprisingly calm, however. Mrs. Weasley looked back and forth from the parchment to Harry to Ginny and said with a deep release of breath,
“Very well, I’ll sign them, but Ginny, you are only to use magic to defend yourself, is that understood?”
Ginny untwined her fingers from Harry’s and walked around the table to envelope her mother in a hug.
Mrs. Weasley chuckled a bit and said,
“I guess I’m just trying to hold on too tight to what’s already gone, hmm?”
Ginny pulled her mother into a standing position and hugged her even more firmly,
“You’ve got four children right here, Mum. We all need you.”
She turned away with tears in her eyes and said with an embarrassed laugh,
“Get on with you lot! You were off somewhere, so get to it! Don’t let my blubbering stop you. Oh, and Ron, dear, when you find that you’ve said something terribly misogynistic, just apologize. It makes for a much quieter house.”
Hermione looked pointedly at Ron as if to say,
“Ha, you’re Mum’s on my side.”
And she grabbed Ginny by the hand and they walked arm in arm out towards the orchard. Harry saw Ron turn red with anger at being told off my two women for the same thing, and Harry laughed, clapping him on the shoulder,
“Stop while you’re behind, mate.”
Ron trudged along after Harry, none too happy.
After allowing the girls to defeat them once or twice, Harry and Ron found themselves in Ron’s room staring at the wall with bemused looks on their faces.
“I don’t get it,” Ron’s bemused voice floated over to Harry who had his eyes fixed to the ceiling as he laid on his back on his bed, “Really, they get angry when you beat them, and then they yell at you when you let them win! Do they actually know what they want out of life?”
“You’ve got me,” Harry answered, “Although after I apologized and said I’d never underestimate Ginny again, I was off the hook. You, however, had to keep arguing and you’re still in trouble.”
“Well, she’s got to make up her mind! I can’t read it, now can I?”
“Just go down and apologize, mate. I’m bored, and I don’t want to spend dinner listening to you two snipe at each other.”
Ron sighed and moved heavily from his bed. Harry waited a few moments and then started after him down the steps. He figured he’d given Ron enough time to apologize. As he approached Ginny’s room, however, he saw Ginny listening at the small crack she’d left open. Not that she needed to. Harry could hear Ron and Hermione without leaning in.
“Are you kidding?” Harry asked tiredly, “Do they ever give up?”
Ginny looked up at Harry and smiled,
“I think this is fun for them, Harry. Don’t ask me to explain it, but that’s why they do it. They like to fight.”
Harry shook his head.
“Personally, I’d rather not fight for the heck of it.”
Ginny grinned even wider,
“Good, I don’t like it much either. Ooh, they’re really getting into it now.”
“Ron, I just don’t see why you feel the need to give me special treatment just because you want me to feel good about my abilities! Don’t you think I excel enough in other things that you don’t have to do me any favors?” Hermione spoke shrilly.
“Oh that’s just perfect, Hermione! You complain about losing and now this! I don’t know what you want from me!”
“You’re not supposed to be happy about losing, Ron, but that doesn’t mean you let me win! That undermines me, do you understand? No, of course you don’t! When would you ever consider someone else’s feelings instead of what’s going to make it easier for you later? You thought to yourself that if you let me win, you wouldn’t have to deal with me later.”
“And that worked brilliantly, don’t you think?!? Then, I promise, Hermione this will be the last time I try to do something that scrapes at my pride just to make you happy!”
“Oops,” Ginny giggled. And sure enough, Hermione fired up,
“Your PRIDE!?! That’s what all of this is about! You made some huge sacrifice because you had to lose to a girl. So your pride got hurt, boo hoo, Ron!”
Ron made a noise in his throat of deep frustration,
“Nothing is ever good enough, Hermione! You’re so frustrating!”
“Oh I’m frustrating! What about-”
The room went silent. Harry and Ginny looked at each other in concern. It was as if someone had turned the volume off.
“Should we look in?” Ginny asked worriedly.
Harry nodded and they gently pushed the door open, Harry had his hand in his pocket ready to pull his wand out. The sight they were met with did make Harry want to curse something, but Ginny gave a laugh at the sight of Hermione and Ron snogging.
“Oh, that’s just the way it should be,” Ginny said as Hermione and Ron pulled apart, “Solved the argument, did you?”
Hermione blushed and opened her mouth to speak when a loud, triumphant whooping noise came with the slamming of the front door. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny looked curiously at one another, formed an unspoken agreement to walk downstairs to see what the commotion was.
A/N: So, perhaps you can predict who was making the whooping noise and why
(granted, I’m writing it, so it’s obvious to me), but this chapter was basically setting up very important (and probably predictable) things that will occur later on. Thanks again to my pal Macca for helping me with the Ministry interference. Thanks sweetie, I greatly appreciate it. Please review! Please, I crave the reviews. It’s an addiction!
A/N: Ok, so this is Chapter Seven of…well, actually I have no idea how long this is going to be. I know that some of the theories I have introduced are so far out there (Ollivander), but honestly, as these things come to me, I write them. So, stick with me, even if it’s just to laugh at my outlandish speculations. Read on.
The group trudged down the stairs one after the other, each looking curiously into the foyer.
“That was one of the twins,” Ginny said knowledgably, “but the question is…”
she looked around at the now empty entry hall and turned, confused, back to Harry, Ron and Hermione,
“Where did he go?”
Suddenly and without warning, the red-headed form of Fred Weasley came dashing back to the hall and grabbed Ginny up in a sweeping hug, twirling her small bady in the air before placing her back on the ground. His face was lit from within, and Hermione was laughing at Ginny’s shell-shocked expression.
“Well…what’s going on, Fred?” Hermione said with an air of nonchalance.
Fred let out another great whoop and Mrs. Weasley came into the entrance hall.
“Honestly, Fred, you come into this house in an absolute frenzy, dash into the kitchen and tell me that you have news, then you run back out again.”
“Sorry, Mum, I think our voices compelled him to come in here and assault Ginny,” Ron said with a grin.
“Yeah, Fred, what’d you do that for?” Ginny asked, looking dazed.
“Because…I’m getting married!!!”
The smile on Fred’s face stretched so widely that Harry wondered whether it would somehow permanently distort Fred’s expression.
Mrs. Weasley had tears in her eyes as she pulled her son to her.
“Congratulations, Fred!” Hermione said, heartfeltly.
“Yeah, well done, Fred!” Ginny joined in, now looking much more excited and less confused by Fred’s strange behavior.
“Angelina’s great, Fred,” Harry threw in his input.
“It is Angelina, right?” Ron queried.
Fred pulled away from his smiling, sobbing mother and frowned at Ron,
“Of course it is, you great prat. Who else?”
Ron gave a non-commital shrug and said,
“Just making sure.”
Mrs. Weasley wiped her eyes on the edge of her sleeve and managed to say,
“Come on, you lot, this is no place to celebrate good news!”
And the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione headed into the kitchen to prepare celebratory dinner.
Dinner that night was a jubilant affair. The whole family, save Charlie and Percy, showed up to celebrate Fred and Angelina’s upcoming wedding. There were arguments as to whether or not there would be a joint wedding when Brooke and Angelina stated quite forcefully that the twins should do something this important together.
“I mean, really, George, you can’t decide whether or not to scratch your head without Fred’s input, so how can you expect to have a wedding without your brother?” Brooke inquired.
“Yeah, you lot never do anything on your own,” Angelina threw in, “It was like having one Beater in two bodies on my Quidditch team. That worked really well for us, so this joint wedding should work too.”
Brooke and Angelina shared a look and a smile that sealed the deal. Fred and George looked thrilled,
“You picked a good one there, mate,” George said nodding at Angelina.
Fred was making eyes at Brooke, raising his eyebrows suggestively.
“Leave us would you, you lot? Brooke and I need to get to know each other,” Fred said slipping a sly grin at Brooke.
George slipped a possessive arm around Brooke and they both laughed. Angelina slapped Fred upside the head.
“Honestly! Why on Earth I agreed to marry you, I’ll never know!” Angelina said, but there was laughter in her tone.
“Too late to back out now! I asked, you said yes, that’s a binding agreement.”
The whole table laughed along with the happy new betrothed. All in all, it was a wonderful night, but Harry was exhausted by the time he, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione began the climb up to bed. The usual goodnight kisses were exchanged and Harry lay down in bed that night feeling as though the memory he’d relived today had done so much more good than he could ever have thought. He didn’t have any nightmares that night, as he had for months after the actual occurrence. Instead, he dreamed of Ginny in a white dress and the scent of flowers drifting through the dream cast a sense of peace and well-being over his sleeping mind, though he did not remember the dream come morning.
The weeks leading up to the Apparition Test passed uneventfully. Days were spent in the orchard, playing quidditch, helping Mrs. Weasley around the house, and spending time alone with Ginny while Ron and Hermione had some time to themselves as well. Harry had once worried about whether or not having his two best friends dating would ruin the dynamic of their routines, but it had not. In fact, since they had begun dating, Harry had found their company much more enjoyable. When they fought, Harry knew they would make up; no more fights that led to terms of silence for long periods of time.
The Apparition classes went well enough. Harry and Ron gradually got back into the routine, and they recalled how to Apparate properly. There were no more major incidents of splinching, and so, when Harry and Ron awoke and dressed for the exam that morning in August, they did so without much in the way of nerves.
Mrs. Weasley insisted that they,
“Cannot expect to Apparate properly on an empty stomach.”
So, Ron and Harry downed a bit of toast and juice and Mr. Weasley accompanied them to the Ministry after they were wished good luck by Mrs. Weasley, Hermione, and Ginny.
Ginny gave Harry a hug, and they heard Hermione whisper in Ron’s ear,
“I know sometimes I tell you otherwise, but I do actually like your head quite a bit, and I’ve no desire to see you join the Headless Hunt, so do be careful.” She finished with a kiss on his cheek, and Ron chuckled,
“Lot of faith you have in me, eh Hermione?”
“Oh, go on then!” She said in a falsey angry tone.
Ron returned the kiss, though this was a quick peck on the lips.
“I know, you only nag because you care.”
“I do NOT nag, Ron!” Hermione said shrilly.
“Right, well, we’ve got to be going.” Ron turned on his heel and followed after Mr. Weasley into the fire.
“You know what? I don’t care if you lose your head, Ron! Then at least you wouldn’t be able to think! Oh, wait a minute, you don’t think now, and your head’s attached to your shoulders as it is!”
Ron smiled and blew her a kiss as he vanished in the green flames. Harry kissed Ginny and said,
“Well, I’m off as well. We should be back soon.”
“Oh, please, take your time,” Hermione spat and walked fro the room calling back, “Oh, but good luck to you, Harry, of course.”
“They make me laugh,” Ginny said, “I really do enjoy their fights.”
“Especially since they only last for as long as one can hold out not being with the other.”
“Tricky little game isn’t it? Love, I mean.” Ginny said thoughtfully.
“Well, I’m rather enjoying it, but right now, I have to go or your dad and Ron will wonder what grate I’ve got lost at this time.”
Harry waved and stepped into the warm, green fire. He said very clearly,
“Ministry of Magic.”
And the swirling began. Harry had gotten a bit more used to Floo travel by now, but he still wasn’t fond of it.
When he stepped from the grate, he saw a very worried Mr. Weasley, and Ron assuring his father that Harry was fine. They both caught sight of Harry and moved towards him.
“Oh, good, Harry, I was hoping you hadn’t gotten out at the wrong grate.”
“No, I’m fine, Mr. Weasley,” Harry said, “Let’s do this, then, shall we?”
With this, he, Ron, and Mr. Weasley headed to the floor where the testing was to take place. For the sake of everything he, Ron, and Hermione had planned this year, he hoped that he and Ron passed today.
CRACK! CRACK! Two identical whip-like noise came one after the other into the parlor where Ginny was stacking cards and Hermione was reading a book.
They both jumped. Ginny’s cards shook, then fell, but she ducked for cover and the explosion that followed didn’t harm her in any way. Hermione’s book clanked to the floor at the same time as Ginny’s cards exploded. So, the noise from the room was immense, but when the girls emerged from their hiding spots, Hermione exclaimed weakly,
“So, you’ve passed, then?”
Harry and Ron stood beaming on the opposite side of the room near the window.
“Yep!” Ron said, “Not one eyebrow left behind, thank you very much!”
“Yeah, and I didn’t land anywhere near Australia.”
“Well, that’s all very well, and I’m proud of you to be sure, but did you have to come in unannounced that way?” Ginny inquired angrily.
Harry looked sheepishly at her,
“Sorry, we were just really excited.”
Just then Mrs. Weasley came tearing into the room.
“What happened? Are you all ok? Oh…it’s you two then. You passed, I assume?”
Mrs. Weasley stored the wand that she had had raised, and looked towards Harry and Ron.
“Yeah, Mum, we passed.”
“Good, where’s your father?”
“He had to finish up work but he says to expect him for dinner,” Ron informed her.
Mrs. Weasley nodded,
“It’s just us and your father for dinner tonight. Everyone else had things to do.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione said.
“Be careful, you two, and I don’t want you Apparating all of the time just because you can.”
“Yes, Mrs. Weasley.”
And she left them alone.
Harry and Ron surveyed the scattered cards, ash, and books lying about.
“See what you’ve done?” Hermione said in her best impression of McGonagall.
Ron grinned winningly at her and said,
“Sorry about that. We’ll clean it up.”
“What do you mean ‘we’? I didn’t volunteer!” Harry intoned.
“But, you will help, won’t you, Harry. I mean, Ron didn’t Apparate here by himself.” Ginny added with the tone that Harry recognized at once as the “do it or else” tone.
“Right, of course I will,” he mumbled.
Hermione and Ginny stood up and stretched languishly.
“We’re going up to Ginny’s room, if you need us,” Hermione said sweetly and the two girls glided from the room.
Ron looked at Harry and said,
“Do you ever feel like they have us entirely in their control?”
“Mate, they do have us entirely in their control,” Harry informed Ron in a dull tone.
“Right, that’s what I thought. Any chance that we can change that?” Ron asked hopefully.
Harry gave a humorless laugh,
“No. Absolutely not. This is our lot in life, we have to deal with it.”
Ron gave Harry a look that said very clearly that, though he didn’t particularly like the lack of power he held, he would never give Hermione up. Harry felt the same way, and they set to their work.
“What’re the odds that we can come up with a way to gain the upper hand?” Ron inquired.
“Give it up, man,” Harry said laughingly, “This is the way life is.”
A/N: Ok, short and pointless, but I needed to fit the test in, and I didn’t really want to go past it because I needed a point to start from next chapter, and this chapter sort of fell into my lap. So, have a heart and review! I had someone apologize to me for giving a long review last chapter; I encourage the long reviews! Really!
A/N: Ok…Chapter Eight. Now, we’re actually getting somewhere with this chapter. Really, I swear. So, read and enjoy.
“Don’t look now, Ron, but Cormac McLaggen is giving you the evil eye,” Ginny whispered as the group of four trudged through the crowds at Platform 9 ¾ on September 1. Ron halted and nearly gave himself whiplash as he jerked his head around to look. Since his arm was around Hermione, she was pulled to a stop as well, and chuckled.
“Do you ever notice that when you tell someone not to look now, that they automatically look? Anyway, what’s Cormac’s problem?” Hermione gently pulled Ron towards the train.
“I would imagine that he’s none too pleased about you dating Ron, Hermione,” Ginny smirked, “Although how anyone can be jealous of that, I couldn’t tell you,” she indicated quite clearly that she was speaking about Ron.
Hermione laughed and searched the crowds,
“Where is your mum? And Fred and George?”
They had been the only ones available to come and see the group off. And they had gotten lost in the crowd.
“There they are,” Harry pointed his and Ginny’s joined hands to the parting in the crowd.
Hermione’s laughter rang out once more.
“Blimey, you’re chipper this morning,” Ron said squeezing his arm that rested around he shoulders.
“No, just, take a minute and look around. Slowly. There are at least three very large groups of girls glaring at you, Ginny, and Harry, there are several very unhappy boys looking your way.”
“Why?” Harry and Ginny said simultaneously.
“I think, my dear oblivious ones,” Fred’s voice rang out behind the group, “that that would have something to do with the fact that these girls and boys have been awaiting this day since the word got around that you two broke up.”
“Yes, that was the talk of the summer in teenage ‘loveland’,” George added, “That was all the gossip at the joke shop over the summer. No matter what’s happening in the world, the potential love lives of others take priority.”
“And, just a thought, my darling brother, why didn’t you inform these people that Harry and I were back together?” Ginny inquired.
“Well, it just didn’t seem like that would be our place,” Fred said.
“Yes, that would be butting in to other people’s lives, and why would we ever presume to meddle in others’ lives?” George asked innocently.
“Because you’re dolts, the both of you,” Mrs. Weasley said, “You thought it would be fun to see this happen, didn’t you? You wanted these poor boys and girls to go the whole summer thinking of ways to ask these two out, and now it’s being displayed in front of their eyes that Harry and Ginny are off the market again,” she said nodding at the couple’s joined hands.
“Well, maybe we thought we’d find it a bit entertaining, Mum, but there was no harm in it,” George said, his hands raised in surrender.
“Ok, you lot had better get on the train,” Mrs. Weasley said, ignoring her son, “It’ll be leaving soon.”
She pulled Ron into a long hug, and Hermione, then Ginny and then Harry in turn.
When she pulled back, there were tears in her eyes,
“Now, you three,” she looked at Harry, Ron, and Hermione, “I want letters when you’re leaving, and I want updates. Just so that I-I know you’re s-s-safe, alright?” Mrs. Weasley’s voice faltered and Hermione threw herself into Mrs. Weasley’s arms,
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Weasley, we’ll keep in touch every step of the way,” she said in a comforting voice.
As Hermione pulled back, Mrs. Weasley’s gaze went to Ginny,
“And Ginny, darling, have a great year. Be safe, and use your magic sparingly.”
Ginny nodded as the train whistle shrilled loudly.
“Alright, onto the train with you lot,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“Yeah, bye!” Fred said.
“Say ‘hi’ to Peeves for us!” George added.
“I miss that old poltergeist,” Fred said, wiping an imaginary tear from his eye.
“You sentimental schmuck, you,” George nudged Fred.
The group laughed as they boarded the train. They all watched until they could no longer see Mrs. Weasley, Fred, or George. Then they went in search of an empty compartment. As they walked, it became increasingly evident that every male and female in the fifth year and up was watching Harry and Ginny with a certain amount of disdain. They finally found a compartment where Neville and Luna sat.
“Wow, how are you?” Hermione said as she entered the compartment and plopped down next to Ron. He put his arm back in place around her shoulder and leaned into him comfortably.
“Oh, fine,” Luna said dreamily, “Father and I spent the summer searching the mountains of Spain for Lamforshins.”
Harry sat next to Ginny, closest to the door, with his hand in hers, and he found the corners of his mouth automatically turning up. This happened often in Luna’s presence. Ron laughed outright.
“What the bloody hell are Lamforshins, Luna?” Ron asked as Hermione nudged him in the ribs. She’d become used to Luna’s ramblings, and she had even refrained from rolling her eyes at Luna’s outlandish stories.
“Lamforshins are giant cats that have the ability to read minds. Quite valuable, but almost extinct as they’re sold on the black market to dark wizards.”
Hermione could not keep the skeptical tone from her voice when she said,
“Giant cats that can read minds? And how, pray tell, do these cats convey what they’ve seen to the dark wizards who purchase them on the black market?”
“Well, they can speak English. They’re very human-like,” Luna said as if stating the obvious.
“And did you find any of these Lamforshins?” Hermione questioned.
“No, Father and I expect that they’re in hiding,” Luna said, nodding.
Ginny, who was always quick to jump to Luna’s defense seemed to anticipate Hermione’s comments and stopped Hermione speaking,
“Right, so, all Lamforshins aside, what did you do, Neville?” Ginny asked.
“I spent most of the summer at home. Gran didn’t want me going far what with all that’s going on?”
“That seems smart,” Ginny said.
“I had to talk her into letting me come back. Eventually, she decided that she could trust Professor McGonagall to take charge. She thought that we’re just as safe at Hogwarts as anywhere else.”
“Understandable,” Hermione said.
The group spent the ride laughing and talking until the trolley came by pushed by a very tall, skinny woman who didn’t seem at all happy to be selling sweets. The occupants of the compartment looked around at one another and ordered sweets. As the grumpy woman rolled off, Harry said,
“What happened to the woman who usually pushes the trolley?”
“Oh, she was killed in an attack on a Muggle town square. Accident, of course, the Death Eaters were targeting an Auror in the area and she just happened to be there,” Neville said, “Gran told me.”
They sat in silence for a bit until a group of girls, Romilda Vane among them wandered past their compartment glaring at Ginny.
“Wow!” Ron said loudly, “I don’t know about you Neville, Luna, Hermione, but I feel so blessed to be in the presence of such beautiful people as Harry and my sister! Makes you feel lucky, doesn’t it?”
They all laughed and Hermione said,
“Well, they both have that universal likeability.”
And the trip passed rather pleasantly until the train came to a halt. Harry had enjoyed the trip so much that the thought that popped into his head seemed to come late,
“Hey, did any of you lot notice that we didn’t get a visit from Crabbe and Goyle? Don’t you think they’d be pretty upset that we sent their best friend to Azkaban?”
“Yeah, I mean, who’s going to tell them to breathe, eat, and sleep if Malfoy’s not here?” Ron said with a chuckle.
“Wait, Malfoy went to Azkaban?” Neville asked.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny all glanced at one another and seemed to silently agree that the less is more tactic would be useful for this story and Harry said simply,
“He tried to kill Ron over the summer, but we stopped him and he went to Azkaban.”
Neville’s mouth dropped open and Luna nodded knowingly.
“I thought you might have been visited by a deanglo. You sort of glow,” Luna said.
“A what?” Hermione asked as they moved off of the train.
Ron’s arm tightened around her waist in a manner that told her not to jump down Luna’s throat.
“A deanglo is a small death angel that flitters about when someone is about to be killed. If, by chance, the person avoids death, the deanglo will leave a sort of glow.”
Hermione’s mouth opened and closed as Luna moved to walk in front of them towards the carriages.
Harry clasped Ginny’s hand and said,
“Wow, mate, you glow. I’ve seen it for days, and, quite honestly, I thought you were pregnant, so this is a load off my mind.”
Ginny and Hermione laughed. Ron scowled,
“Shut up Harry.”
“No, don’t be embarrassed, Ron, glowing is completely healthy and there’s no need for you to-Hey, what’s wrong?” Harry looked concernedly at Ginny, moving his arm around her waist. Ginny stood frozen staring at a thestral.
“I can see it,” she breathed.
“You can see the thestral?” Harry asked.
“I can’t see them,” Ron said, “Hermione, can you?”
“No, but we all saw…well, I mean,” the others knew that she was referring to Cedric in the Pensieve, but she didn’t want to say anything in front of Neville.
“Yeah, but that obviously isn’t a real death; it was the recreation of a death,” Hermione answered her own unspoken question, “So, Ginny must have…”
“Dumbledore,” Ginny whispered.
Harry recalled that that night, it was, indeed Ginny who had pulled Harry away from Dumbledore’s deceased form. She had witnessed death.
This reminded Harry that he still had not gotten up the courage to show the other three his memory of that night, and he hurried Ginny into the carriage, bidding Neville and Luna farewell.
Ginny snuggled her head into the crook of Harry’s neck and sighed deeply.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked quietly, fully aware that Ron and Hermione were watching anxiously.
Ginny nodded wordlessly into Harry’s shoulder, and said,
“I’m suddenly just really tired, that’s all.”
“I wonder who the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher will be,” Hermione said, changing the subject on purpose.
“Yeah, I reckon Slughorn took off after what happened last year,” Ron said.
Harry looked out of the window through the clear, moonlit night up at the great castle silhouetted against the darkness. He wondered how the next two months would go. He, Ron, and Hermione had not written in their letters to McGonagall that they wouldn’t be staying through the whole year. They planned to sit down and talk with her after the exams and inform her of their plans. After all, she may be able to help. Turning away from the window and planting a kiss on Ginny’s hair, he saw Hermione looking anxiously out of the same window, clutching Ron’s hand nervously. Ron, pulled Hermione’s face towards him, and said softly,
“We’ll know soon enough.”
His voice was firm and it seemed to calm Hermione. The four sat tranquilly together anticipating the arrival at the school, but feeling at peace. For the moment.
A/N: Ok, so, maybe I overstated when I said that we’re getting moving on the plot, but I needed a place to end this chapter and this seemed as good a place as any. SO, please review, and I can’t wait for the next chapter because I really want to put some more R/Hr fluff. Please REVIEW!!!
A/N: How on earth can you people possibly find what I’m writing interesting? You’re truly amazing, guys. I want you to know that. I really do appreciate you lot sticking with it. I love you!
Harry unwittingly clung to Ginny’s hand as a lifeline when the group trudged into the Great Hall. Harry looked back and saw that Hermione and Ron also had very tight grips on one another’s waist. None of them knew what to expect, and Harry wasn’t sure he could handle seeing McGonagall sitting in Dumbledore’s usual seat. What would it be like not to see the wise wizard taking his post and offering his usual strange comments before the feast.
“Harry, let’s keep walking,” Ginny whispered, pulling him forward with a tight grip on his hand.
Harry couldn’t look up at the staff table. He wanted to be sitting down first; he wasn’t sure he could be trusted to keep his legs under him. He heard Hermione whispering to Ron in an excited voice, but could not make out what she said. Ginny was focused on Harry, and hadn’t glanced at the staff table either. He plopped down next to Ginny, hand still firmly clasped together, and across from Ron and Hermione. They were talking excitedly and Harry felt compelled to look up. His heart gave a warm tug as he saw Lupin sitting in the chair that had been occupied by Snape the year before, but he didn’t recognize the middle-aged woman with a mop of curly blond hair piled on top of her head sitting in what had once been Slughorn’s seat. Harry was so pleased to see Lupin that he had entirely overlooked the fact that Dumbledore’s seat was still empty. It was only then that Harry realized extra chairs had been added so that Dumbledore’s chair could remain empty.
“I’m so glad Professor Lupin is back,” Hermione said in a relieved tone, “That way we’re still in contact with someone in the Order.”
“McGonagall’s in the Order,” Ron said.
“Yeah, but we can talk to Lupin,” Harry injected, seeing where Hermione’s relief was coming from.
“Wait,” Ginny said, “Wasn’t Slughorn supposed to take over as head of Slytherin? Who’s going to take it now? Surely that woman wasn’t a Slytherin.”
The group watched as the woman pulled a quill right out of her tussle of hair with a puzzled expression and a giggle that they couldn’t hear from their seats. She was gesturing with Professor Sprout and it seemed increasingly unlikely that the woman was a Slytherin. It seemed she already knew Professor Sprout, and, in fact, there was a resemblance between them.
“Haven’t you noticed? There are only six Slytherins here,” Hermione whispered.
Harry looked around and, sure enough, only six Slytherins sat at the Slytherin table. Five girls and one boy. They all looked to be in their second year or so. Harry continued his sweep of the room and saw only a dozen Ravenclaws and a handful of Hufflepuffs had returned. The Gryffindor table was the most populated with nearly all of the returning students from last year.
“It looks as though not many parents wanted their kids to come back, doesn’t it?” Ginny said.
“Yeah, but look how many Gryffindors there are compared to the rest,” Ron put in.
“I wonder how many first years there will be,” Harry said, “And I wonder if Hagrid’s here.”
“Why wouldn’t he be?” Hermione asked.
“Well, he wasn’t too pleased with the idea of staying on after…well, you know,” Harry trailed off, watching the doors through which, in happier times, Hagrid would have marched through with a large group of first years. He couldn’t bring himself to think of losing both Dumbledore and Hagrid. Ginny gave his hand a squeeze, and just then, the doors opened, and the massive shape of Hagrid walked through them.
Harry let out an audible sigh of relief and Hermione managed to stifle the strangled cry of welcome when Ron shushed her. Only three first years followed Hagrid. Not even enough to fill one boat in the crossing over the lake. Two boys and a girl, looking more frightened than any first years Harry had ever seen. Hagrid left the first years at the front of the hall, and, perhaps in attempts to be inconspicuous (a very difficult task for the massive form), he circled behind the tables and reached Harry and the rest.
“Hagrid, we’re so glad you’re here,” Hermione whispered as McGonagall began to bring out the Sorting Hat and brought forth the stool to place it on.
Hagrid’s eyes wrinkled as the mouth underneath mountains of furry beard curled into a smile. He spoke softly.
“Thanks, Hermione. It’s good ter see you lot too. Glad you stayed out of trouble this summer. But not too much trouble, eh?” Hagrid wiggled his eyebrow suggestively at Ron and Hermione, joined by Ron’s arm around her waist and Harry and Ginny’s joined hands.
“Figured it out then, Ron? Hermione? Took ye long enough. Listen, Harry, I need to talk to ye for a mo’. Outside, if you would.”
Hagrid walked quickly away and towards the doors to the entrance hall. Harry shrugged and he wandered outside just as McGonagall was explaining the hat, and it opened its mouth to sing. Harry wondered what this was about. He found Hagrid standing at the foot of the stairs, wringing his hands.
“What’s going on, Hagrid?” Harry asked as he approached his massive friend. He really was glad to see him.
“Well, it’s like this, Harry. I came back this year ter keep an eye on you lot. Ye tend to get into trouble and the like. But I need ter know now if yer planning something later on this year.”
Harry must have looked shocked because Hagrid smiled, “Ye don’t think I know ye well enough to know that ye’ve got summat up yer sleeve? I figured on you not even comin’ back, to be honest.”
Hagrid laid a hand on Harry shoulder, causing his knees to buckle. Harry straightened and decided to tell Hagrid of his plans. He thought he might as well have someone in on this. He would probably end up spilling to Lupin as well. Harry opened his mouth, and with the shrill sound of the Sorting Hat’s inaudible song in the background, told Hagrid the entire plan.
When Harry had exhausted all the words he had on the matter of the trip to Godric’s Hollow, Hagrid sighed deeply and pulled Harry into an emotional, bone-crushing hug only pulling away when Harry managed a strangled sound that alerted Hagrid to Harry’s lack of oxygen.
“Right,” Hagrid said with a note of finality, “you should be getting’ back. I told Professor McGonagall I’d take ye out fer a minute.”
Harry smiled and said, “Hagrid, I’m glad you’re here.”
“Me too, Harry, me too,” Hagrid said with a wave of his hand, “Now get back in there!”
Harry smiled to himself, thinking that perhaps, with Hagrid here, the next couple of moths wouldn’t be so bad. They would be leaving soon, but for now, they had Hagrid, and it appeared that they had Lupin as well. Harry could live with that, and he took his seat at the Gryffindor table next to Ginny. The Sorting Hat had been put away and one boy sat at the Gryffindor table while the other boy and girl sat with the small number of Ravenclaws. McGonagall was talking, so Harry just gave Ginny’s hand a reassuring squeeze as she looked at him with questioning eyes. She seemed content to leave the matter alone and Ron saw the look and did not question. Harry noted that Hermione was listening intently to what McGonagall was saying, and did not even look up at Harry’s return. This had to mean that McGonagall was saying something important. Harry tuned in.
“And so, our new teacher, Professor Jenkins is to be treated with the utmost respect. She is doing us a great favor. I would also caution you, perhaps unnecessarily that the world we are living in is not safe. For anyone. Be on your guard at all times. Though you are most likely safer here than anywhere else, do not be lulled into a false sense of security. With that said, I think it is time for us to enjoy our feast. Do not allow the hard times to take all the enjoyment out of life. Being cautious does not mean that you can not have as good a time with your school mates as before. Eat, and live life well.”
The sparkling plates filled with food as they had done every year. Harry looked up, “Well, that was a heavy message.” He laughed a bit.
“Harry, what was that about? With Hagrid?” Ginny asked.
“He knew we were up to something. I didn’t see the point in lying to him, so I told him what we’re planning to do after exams. I think we should tell Lupin as well.”
Hermione and Ron nodded their agreement.
“He could help us,” Hermione said, “And telling Hagrid was good too. I’d hate to feel like I was lying to Hagrid.”
“So, did the Hat say anything interesting?” Harry asked. He rather regretted not hearing the song, but knew that Hermione had picked up on every nuance of every word, so he needn’t have been there.
“It gave its respects to Dumbledore, advised us to unite once more, basically the same things it always says,” Hermione answered.
“Yeah, and the new professor,” Ron shoveled some food into his mouth at this and was unable to finish his thought.
“Honestly, Ron! Why would you begin a statement and then put so much food in your mouth that you can’t finish it?” Hermione said, disgusted.
Ron gave a huge gulp and swallowed his food. He gave a broad grin, and put his free arm—the one not handling his fork—around Hermione’s shoulder and planted a huge kiss on her cheek.
“You can nag all you want, Hermione, but this is the best chicken I have ever had, and you can’t bring me down. Anyway,” he said, as a smile threatened to overtake Hermione’s frown of disapproval, “the new professor is Sprout’s cousin. She was in Hufflepuff, and she was the only one who would take the position. Lupin, of course, wouldn’t really think anything of the dangers. I guess his work with the other werewolves didn’t work out, so he’s here.”
“What about the Slytherin head of house?” Harry asked.
“They don’t have one,” Ginny said.
“What do you mean?” Harry was shocked.
“Well, there are only six of them, so McGonagall said that discipline will be administered by herself. She said that, seeing as she’s the Headmistress, she could handle it,” Ginny said.
“So, she’s the Headmistress, Transfiguration teacher, Head of Gryffindor, and the substitute Head of Slytherin?” Harry asked, incredulous.
“It does sound like rather a lot, doesn’t it?” Hermione said, “But I think she can handle it.”
The rest of the meal was spent in pleasant conversation. They were joined by Neville and Dean, Seamus and a few others later on. Harry was held back from feeling content to merely talk and enjoy himself with his friends by glancing periodically up at the chair wrapped in black silk where the Headmaster had once sat. Ginny kept her hand in his the whole way through the evening, and, though it drew many a dirty look from Dean, it gave Harry an unsurpassed level of comfort.
Harry only recognized how late it was when he felt his eyelids droop. He looked across the table to see Hermione falling asleep in the crook of Ron’s arm. Ron wore the look of love that made him look so ridiculous and yet, it was clearly envied by many. Harry wondered if he looked the same way when he watched Ginny. She was, in fact, watching him. When Harry’s eyes met hers, she smiled. Harry thought that there couldn’t possibly be anything better than having beautiful, fiery Ginny Weasley choose to look at him that way. Harry watched Ron plant a gentle kiss on Hermione’s forehead. Hermione shifted slightly, a smile on her face as McGonagall stood up to dismiss them to their rooms. Harry and Ginny stood up, hands still linked. Ron gently woke Hermione, and helped her from the room. By the time they reached the portrait, Hermione had woken up a bit. Harry made a sudden realization as they stood at the Fat Lady.
“Hermione! Are you Head Girl? Ron? What about you?” he asked.
Hermione shook her head in a melancholy manner, “No, I declined. I knew we would be leaving, so I wrote to Professor McGonagall and said I didn’t believe I could handle the responsibility.”
Ron snorted, “Oh, yeah, and I’m sure she bought that. No offense, Hermione, you could handle anything. It’s a pretty weak lie.”
Hermione smiled and snuggled into Ron’s chest, “There was a compliment mixed in there somewhere, Ron Weasley, whether or not you meant to insult me or not. So, thank you.”
“But, if you’re not Head Girl, who is?” Ginny asked.
“Hannah, I believe,” she said, “And Ernie’s Head Boy.”
“That’s probably as much glory as Hufflepuff’s had since….” Harry trailed off thinking of Cedric.
Ginny quickly got the conversation rolling again, “So, we have to rely on the Prefects from my year, then.”
“Yeah, why weren’t you made prefect, Ginny?” Harry asked.
Ron laughed, “I expect all of those Bat Bogey hexes probably played a part in that, eh?”
“Shut up, Ron,” Ginny said.
Not half a second later, Colin Creevey came pushing through the crowd with a prefect badge attached to his chest. He panted, “Birthday cake, the password is birthday cake!”
“Very good,” the Fat Lady sniffed as she swung open on her hinges.
“Lookit, Harry, I’m a prefect! Dad was so pleased! He bought me a new camera.”
Harry was introduced to Colin’s new camera as the bulbs flashed in his face. He knew he had to escape now, or he would have to listen to Colin for over an hour.
“Listen, Colin, I’m really tired, and I’m going to bed, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”
As Harry gave Ginny a kiss goodnight, he could hear her laughing through their joined lips.
“Thanks, Ginny, really, I appreciate your support,” Harry murmured.
“No problem,” Ginny said, pulling back, “Goodnight, Harry.”
Harry watched her glide up the steps to the girl’s dormitory, and he turned to walk up his own staircase, moving past Ron and Hermione, also kissing goodnight.
“Goodnight, Hermione,” Harry said.
Hermione raised a hand in farewell, but did not pull away from Ron to speak, or bid Harry a good night, or to breathe. Harry was pretty sure that both she and Ron were going to run out of it soon, but he figured there was nothing he could do to save them, and headed up to change.
Harry marveled at the fact that, though half the school was gone, his entire dormitory had decided to return. He bid Neville, Dean, and Seamus goodnight, and climbed back into the four poster he thought he was never to sleep in again. He was drifting off to sleep as Ron came in, and the lights went off.
Jolting awake, Harry knew that someone was in the room: someone who shouldn’t be there. He peeked through the hangings on his bed, wand at the ready when he saw a bushy head and the body attached to it push open the hangings to Ron’s bed. Harry watched Hermione sit at the end of Ron’s bed and poke him awake with her forefinger. Harry was shocked. Hermione was breaking clear rules, not to mention moral codes. Just as Harry made the decision that he didn’t want to witness whatever was about to happen, he saw the moonlight catch a tear running down Hermione’s face. Ron, apparently, noticed it as well. He sat straight up, immediately awaken by Hermione’s distressed condition.
“What’s happened?” Ron asked loudly.
“Shhh! Don’t wake up the others,” Hermione said in a shaky whisper.
Harry thought that perhaps he should climb out to help, but Hermione’s next statement made his mind up that this was between her and Ron.
“She’s horrible, Ron! Absolutely horrible!” Hermione hissed.
Ron pulled her into his arms, wiping her cheeks with his thumb. Turning her to rest her back against her chest, Ron whispered back, “Who, Hermione? Tell me what happened.”
Ron apparently had the same problem Harry did. He could barely control his laughter. Harry, fortunately, had a pillow to stifle the snort of amusement. Ron turned his into a soft cough. Hermione was upset enough that she didn’t notice.
“None of the other girls came back, Ron. She has no one else to take her anger out on. She’s making my life terrible!”
“Hermione, we’ve only been back at school for a few hours. How terrible can it be?”
“You wouldn’t understand! It’s girl stuff. I never understood why girls had to be so hateful. But she is wretched. Little pranks. Ridiculous. Can’t stand her!”
“Listen, Hermione, would it help if I talked to her? Told her to lay off you?”
“No, no. I’ll fix this. Just not now. Tomorrow.”
Ron stroked her hair, and kissed her soundly.
“Better?” he asked.
“Yeah, thanks,” she sighed, “I just have to wait and be sure she’s asleep before I go back.”
“Why didn’t you go to Ginny? Just wondering. You can always come to me, but wouldn’t Ginny understand this?”
Hermione let out a soft chuckle, “I think she’s having enough trouble with girls at the moment: Romilda Vane in particular.”
“Oh, no,” Ron laughed as well.
Settling against Ron, Hermione closed her eyes.
“Shhh. I really don’t need people waking up right now.”
Funnily enough, Seamus began to stir. Hermione was evidently too busy settling in that she didn’t hear it. Ron didn’t either, but sure enough, the light turned on, jolting everyone awake. Hermione jolted, but Ron, held her to him. He seemed to think the danger was more along the lines of an intruder and not that one of his classmates was about to discover something he shouldn’t. Ron had whipped out his wand, and secured his arm more tightly around Hermione.
“Oi! Ron. Oh, so sorry, mate,” Seamus said with a suggestive laugh, “Didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Realizing that the danger was non-existent, Ron lowered his wand. But the damage was done, and instead of springing apart, as was her initial reaction, Hermione clung to Ron in horror. Neville and Dean surfaced from their beds now. Neville shrugged and went back to bed. Dean laughed much the same way as Seamus.
“It’s late, and I’m tired, Ron, but remind me to give you a high-five in the morning, mate. So sorry we ruined your fun, Hermione,” Dean said.
“No, that’s not, I mean, that isn’t what I-hmph,” Hermione said angrily, getting up and storming to the door. She turned around and said, “You are disgusting, Dean, Seamus. Nothing was going on! But why would you ever believe that? Men are apes!”
She flung open the door and Ron, hiding a smile-wisely-, he shouted, “I love you too, Hermione. Sleep well!”
The door slammed shut.
“Sorry again, mate, I thought someone had snuck in here, but I never dreamed it would be Hermione. Doesn’t seem the type, you know,” Seamus said with a yawn.
“Really, though, nothing was happening. I’d love to tell you it was, but she was just upset,” Ron said with a trace of regret.
“Even sorrier, then that we interrupted what could have turned into something if you played your cards right,” Dean said.
“No, really, she’s not like that,” Ron said angrily, “So don’t start that going around. You get me?”
Ron really did sound menacing.
“Yeah, mate, we’re just having some fun,” Seamus said apologetically.
“Sorry, Ron, we know Hermione. We know she’s not one to, well, you know,” Dean said.
“Well, just remember that then!” Ron turned on his side, drawing his hangings closed.
Harry drew the small gap in his closed and thought to himself as the light went out once more that this year was going to be very different; even at Hogwarts.
A/N: Ok, this one’s nice and long. I really hope you liked it. I had lots of fun with it. Heehee. I love Ron. I love R/Hr! If only Ron existed in the real world. He would drive me mad. But I love him. Sorry, tangent. So, please review! Please, Please, Please!
A/N: Ok. I’m updating. I am SOOOO sorry it took so long. I had a lot of commitments going on. So, please read and enjoy.
Harry groaned into his plate of bacon and sausage. Ron followed suit. Hermione appeared not to have heard either of them, and Ginny laughed.
“You two thought you were done with work, didn’t you? You saw yourselves off on adventures, not sitting in double Transfiguration and Potions,” Ginny giggled.
“Oh, shut up, Ginny,” Ron said, laying down his schedule with a disdainful glance.
“Yeah, I just didn’t think I would ever be sitting here, getting my schedule again. I figured I was finished,” Harry said, then shrugged, “Oh, well. I guess we’ll get to see what Professor Jenkins is like.”
Ginny laughed a bit more, laying her arm amiably around Harry’s shoulders, kissing his cheek, “Oh, you’re a big, tough man. You can handle a few classes.”
“Ha Ha. Very funny,” Harry said dryly, but his mouth jerked into a smile.
“Hey, Hermione,” Ron said, noticing that she was looking around the room with a suspicious gleam in her eye, adding nothing to a conversation that she usually had a great deal of opinion on, “What’s going on?”
Ron’s tone was worried. He, too, began glancing around the room. He reached into his robes, ready to draw his wand at a moment’s notice. Hermione didn’t answer, and Ron became more concerned.
“Hermione!” he said more urgently.
She jerked as though jarred from a daze.
“They’re all talking about it,” she whispered to Ron.
“Talking about what?” Ginny asked.
Hermione looked up, as if just realizing that she had spoken in front of someone other than Ron.
“Oh, umm…well, I’ll tell you later, Ginny. Not here,” Hermione was still speaking in whispers.
Ron wore a confused expression, but Harry had put two and two together. He grinned and turned to Ginny.
“Oh, Ginny, that’s top secret, you see…Hermione paid Ron a visit. Last night. In the middle of the night. In his bed.”
Ginny’s mouth dropped open. Harry started to laugh uncontrollably as Hermione began to hiss and sputter, and Ron’s neck turned a brilliant shade of red.
“Harry,” Hermione hissed, “You were asleep. How did you? But why didn’t you? I cannot believe that you said that out loud! You know very well what happened. Or!” she gasped, “Did you hear it from Seamus? Or Dean? Was it Neville?”
Ron laughed with Harry now, “Come on, Hermione. No one is talking about it, least of all Neville. They all have other things to deal with.”
“But, Ron, they’re all going to talk-”
“You really want to give them something to talk about Hermione? Don’t push me,” Ron said irritably.
“Oh, please, Ron. What on earth would be better gossip than-”
Harry and Ginny collapsed into laughter, and Harry stood up as Ron planted a hearty kiss on Hermione. She attempted to pull away, looking scandalized. Ron released her just as Professor McGonagall glanced up to see the source of the clapping, cheering, and catcalls. She did not see the kiss, and therefore, Ron and Hermione were in the clear. But Ron was in some serious trouble—with Hermione. Harry took Ginny’s hand and whispered in her ear, “Leave them to it. I’ll walk you to class.”
Ginny nodded, still laughing and allowed Harry to lead her away from Ron and Hermione’s shouts. Laughter filled the hall as the two gestured and argued loudly. Now, Harry saw that Professor McGonagall was starting down the Hall towards Ron and Hermione. Harry found it amusing that the two hadn’t found themselves in trouble for kissing, but were now about to be seriously reprimanded for fighting.
Pulling Ginny along with him, they managed to subdue their laughter long enough for Harry to sit down on a bench in the courtyard to tell Ginny what had truly happened the night before. Ginny found it a bit more worrisome than Harry did.
“What’s the problem? It’s just Lavender,” Harry said dismissively.
“Harry, you don’t get it,” Ginny said seriously, “Girls are horrible to one another. Really and truly horrible. Lavender could really do something to hurt Hermione.”
Now Harry stood up, followed by Ginny, and they began moving towards Ginny’s first class: Charms. He could not bring himself to take this with such a grave disposition.
“But Ginny, I just don’t understand.”
“I know you don’t,” Ginny sighed, “And that’s fine. But you have to believe me when I say that Hermione needs all of us to watch out for her right now.”
This triggered something in his memory; something Hermione had mentioned in passing last night.
“Ginny, what about you? Are you having problems with Romilda Vane?”
Ginny shook her head with a smile, “Oh, really, Harry. As if I couldn’t handle a numskull like Romilda Vane.”
Harry stopped walking just outside Professor Flitwick’s classroom, clasping Ginny with both hands on either of her shoulders. He turned her firmly to him, forcing her to look him in the eye.
“Ginny,” he said, exasperated, “You just spent a great deal of time explaining to me how I should worry about Lavender and what she could do to Hermione. Why on earth should I not worry for you?”
“Oh, Harry,” Ginny said in the same kind tone that one uses to explain complex theories and practices to small children, “You see, I am on guard when it comes to Romilda. I know what she’s capable of, and I can cut her off before she could try anything. But Hermione…what you don’t see is that Hermione is most definitely the most intelligent and talented witch at Hogwarts, but she’s more vulnerable than the rest of us.”
Harry snorted, and Ginny frowned.
“Harry, don’t. I’m serious. Hermione is tough; it’s true. But she doesn’t seem to be able to see the evil in those around her. She’s always quick with a comeback, but think back, Harry. She’s also the first to cry. Hermione is a great judge of character, but she thinks she has everything under control even when she doesn’t.”
At this, Professor Flitwick walked outside and squeaked, “Better get to class now, Mr. Potter.”
Harry nodded, “Ok, Professor.”
Ginny looked pointedly at Harry and said, “I’m right, Harry. Think about it. Don’t worry about me, but keep an eye on Hermione. And tell Ron to as well.”
Harry gave Ginny’s hand a gentle squeeze, and he said, “Ok. Have a good lesson.”
Ginny smiled, and moved into the classroom, leaving Harry to wander towards his Transfiguration class pondering what Ginny had said all along the way. It was true, Harry realized, Hermione was more vulnerable than the rest. Why had he never noticed before? Then he thought that it was because Hermione had a truly wonderful façade of hardness. To all those looking in on her, she presented a persona of substantial resistance to hardship. But she was so sensitive. Walking into McGonagall’s room, books under his arm, he witnessed an interesting sight. Hermione was seated in the back corner of the room shooting a guilty and apologetic glance to an equally abashed Ron in the front opposite corner of the room. Harry puzzled over this for a moment, but when Susan Bones sat next to Hermione, Harry was prompted to take the empty seat next to Ron. He had to talk to him at any rate.
“Why are you here,” Harry gestured at the seat Ron was sitting in, “and why is Hermione all the way over there?” He pointed to a disgruntled looking Hermione in the back.
Ron looked down at the desk, at McGonagall studying papers on her desk with great intent, and then back at the desk. He murmured very softly, “McGonagall separated us because of our fight in the Great Hall.”
Harry fought the laughter that was attempting to surface and said in serious tones, “Oh, right. And are you and Hermione still fighting?” Harry could tell by the looks, completely lacking in anger, that the two were sending one another that they had made up, but he didn’t want Ron to think that he was too predictable.
“No,” Ron sighed, “We made up after McGonagall told us that we were too young to be acting as though we’d been married for fifty years.”
Harry laughed heartily now, causing the class to lower their chattering voices and look towards Harry and Ron. Just then the bell rang, and their attention was averted. Harry managed to murmur to Ron before McGonagall took her place at the front of the room, “Hate to break it to you, but you guys have acted like an old married couple since you were eleven.”
“Have not,” Ron shot back loudly.
McGonagall spoke sharply to Ron, “Mr. Weasley, I would think that after that episode in the Great Hall you would have had your share of arguments.”
There was a great deal of snickering and elbowing throughout the room, although Harry could tell that his fellow students were recalling a different scenario that had taken place in the Great Hall that morning. Ron turned beet red and muttered, “Sorry, Professor.”
“Quite right, Mr. Weasley. Now that you’ve argued with your girlfriend and your best friend is there any one else you wish to start a row with today? No? Very well, then, we will begin my class. That is if you have no argument, Mr. Weasley.”
“Does she have to pick on me on the first day?” Ron complained after class as he, Harry, and Hermione walked to Potions.
Hermione comforted Ron, slipping her hand into his in a sign of solidarity, “I know, Ron. She shouldn’t have brought it up in class.”
“Damn right!” Ron interjected.
Harry laughed, he seemed to be laughing a lot today, “You two are just put out that she brought up the incident and embarrassed you. You’re mad because she’s right.”
Moving in front of the protesting couple, Harry moved into the dungeon that had belonged to two teachers in the past six years, and now belonged to a new teacher. The room was now…feminine. Harry could find no other word for the shelves of brightly colored potions in decorative bottles, the wonderful scents rising from cauldrons burning over purple, pink, and indigo flames.
“Whoa,” said Ron, stopping mid-protest.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed.
“Hmm…” Hermione mused.
“What?” Harry said.
“Well, it appears that this professor will be different from any of our other Potions teachers,” she said thoughtfully.
“Really, because we have a lot to compare her with. Two male teachers before her, and so naturally, she would be exactly the same as them,” Ron said sarcastically.
“Oh do shut up,” Hermione snapped.
“If I were to shut up, Hermione, you would be so terribly bored.”
Hermione ignored them as the three friends sat down in anticipation for their first Potions lesson with the new professor. Professor Jenkins turned to be very scatter-brained.
She was constantly searching for misplaced Potions ingredients, and, seeing as the first few months of classes were to be review from the end of the previous year, Harry was thankful that he had done these thins before. This woman was a dismal teacher, but she was pleasant enough.
After a rather pointless class, Harry and Ron bid farewell to Hermione. They had a free period while Hermione was headed to Arithmancy. Harry had yet to have a chance to speak to Ron about the things he and Ginny had discussed earlier that morning, and this appeared to be the perfect time. Moving into the Common Room, Ron received many a back pat and a, “Nice performance this morning, Weasley.”
Ron looked rather proud. Harry smiled and shook his head as the two friends seated themselves in the armchairs by the fire—which was not lit. The performance that morning was all that was buzzing around Hogwarts today. Harry thought once more that people should find better things to do with their time. Sitting down, Harry said, “Ron, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”
Ron looked concerned, “What is it, Harry?”
“It’s Hermione,” Harry began.
Ron sat up bolt upright in his seat, “What about Hermione?”
“Well, I told Ginny what Hermione had said to you last night.”
“You were awake the entire time?” Ron laughed, “And you didn’t say anything?”
“Honestly, I thought it was going to turn into something that I didn’t want to hear, so I didn’t come into the conversation. Then it sounded like you had it under control so I didn’t butt in. But, when I told Ginny, she said that girls can turn really nasty.”
“That’s nothing new, mate, we’ve been friends with Hermione forever. I know that.”
“Hear me out, Ron. You see, Ginny seems to think that Hermione is in a certain amount of…well…danger,” it sounded pathetic, even to Harry, and he continued in an attempt to rectify his statement, “Ginny says, and I agree after I’ve thought about it, that Hermione is more vulnerable than the rest of us.”
Harry took a breath, fully intending to back up this argument with all the evidence he had gathered, but Ron spoke before Harry could resume his dissertation.
“Yeah, I know, mate,” Ron said, shrugging, “She has a tough exterior. No one can hurt her, you know. But most of that is an act. Not that she means it. She just does it, I guess, without thinking. I always knew that about her.”
“Oh,” Harry felt very stupid, “Well, ok, Ginny just thought we should watch over her until this whole Lavender thing blows over.”
“Yeah, good idea. I’m on it already, but good to have you on board ‘Operation Lavender Take Down’.”
“Now, wait a minute, Ron. I never said we were going to ‘take Lavender down’. I just thought we could keep an extra watch on things.”
Shoulders shaking with mirth, Ron said, “Harry, come on. I was kidding. Really, you think I’d try to take down a girl who’s just jealous. I mean, she has good reason to be jealous.”
Harry shoved Ron, “Yeah, you were a real catch. She’s kicking herself for upping the affection to calling you ‘Won-Won’ too soon. That was the real problem. Oh, no, wait, you dated her for quite some time even after she started calling you ‘Won-Won’. Have you no pride?”
The rest of the break was spent completing a report for Transfiguration and making friendly jabs at one another. Harry played it off as nothing, but he wondered how well he truly knew Hermione when Ron could so easily recognize what had taken Harry seven years of friendship to realize. Putting it under the column of not being in love with his best friend, the way Ron had always been, he moved on with the day.
Their next and last class of the day was Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry was truly looking forward to seeing Lupin.
Ron and Harry walked into the Defense Against the Dark Arts room, which was familiar as they’d had Lupin as a teacher four years before. Lupin was not yet in the room, and Harry and Ron sat in the first two seats at the front of the room.
“Where’s Hermione?” Ron asked, looking toward the door.
“She’ll be here,” Harry said.
Five minutes later, Lupin entered the room. Harry felt a sense of comfort at seeing a man he thought of as a friend instead of a formidable professor.
“Harry, Ron, so good to see you,” Lupin said in his quiet, soothing voice, “How are you?”
“Well, thanks, sir,” Harry said.
Lupin looked around the room, frowned and looked back at Harry and Ron. He asked Ron, “Where’s Hermione?”
Ron shrugged, and said nonchalantly, “She probably stayed after in Arithmancy to argue some complex point.” But he looked worried.
Lupin was worried as well, but was forced to begin class when the bell rang. There was still no Hermione. By the end of what would have been a great lesson, had Harry, Ron, and Lupin not been so concerned about Hermione, the three men were frantic. Too many things could have gone wrong in the conditions of the wizarding world.
“Ron, you check the Hospital Wing. Maybe she left class ill. Harry, you check the Common Room. Try to find Ginny, and have her check the dormitories. I’ll check with the other professors,” Lupin delegated tasks with precision.
Harry left in a hurry. He reached the Common Room to find Ginny reading in an armchair. She looked up when Harry entered, and her smile of welcome faded into an expression of concern.
“What is it?” she asked, standing to come to Harry.
Harry made a sweep of the room, and saw no sign of his bushy haired best friend. The panic he felt increased.
“It’s Hermione. She wasn’t in Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Harry said.
“What?” Ginny gasped.
“Could you check the dormitories?” Harry asked.
Ginny nodded and rushed up the staircase. Harry paced the Common Room, drawing the glances of some of the younger Gryffindors. Ron burst through the Portrait Hall, his face lined with fear.
“Any sign of her?” he asked in a hoarse whisper as he reached Harry.
Harry shook his head, and Ginny flew down the staircase and back to Harry and Ron, “She’s not there either. I checked all the dormitories.”
Ron sank, pale into a chair. Ginny knelt in front of him, forcing her brother to look at her, “Ron,” she spoke in a low, soothing voice, “She is fine. She’s the most talented witch I know. You know it. She’s ok.”
Ron wasn’t listening. He was lost in his own thoughts. Just then, Neville rushed into the room, running straight at Ron. He reached the chair, breathing hard from running.
“Ron…on…the…seventh…floor…I heard…It was…Hermione.”
At this, Ron stood up, and grasped Neville roughly by the shoulders, “What about Hermione, Neville?”
Harry had never heard Ron’s voice sound so frightened and abrasive at the same time. Neville seemed petrified of Ron, and Harry pulled the shaking boy away from Ron’s grip. He said, more calmly, “Neville, what happened?”
“On the seventh floor, I heard her yelling. Screaming. It sounded like she was putting up a fight. I think…I think Hermione’s in trouble.”
A/N: Dun Dun Dun…where is Hermione? What’s happened to her? Will Ron’s head explode? Tune in for the next posting to see how this problem resolves itself….Review Please. Please. Please.
A/N: Ha! I updated! Raise your hand if you’re shocked? *Raises hand* Hey, I’m shocked too! But I was so worried about Hermione that I had had had to write this. So, if you’re as worried as I was before I got this all down on paper…read on.
“Why. Didn’t. You. Help. Her. Neville?” Ron bit off the words as though he was fighting not to hit the clearly disheveled Neville.
Apparently, Neville realized Ron was restraining himself from possibly causing him bodily harm, and he back away from Ron.
“I-I tried. I s-swear, Ron. I c-couldn’t find her. She c-couldn’t hear me. I c-called her name over and over, b-but she just kept screaming for you, Ron. S-so I did the only thing I c-could think of.”
Ron bolted for the door shouting behind him without stopping, “You coming, Harry? Ginny?”
Harry peered at Ginny, who was white with worry. Harry, too, felt his insides churning with concern. All the possible scenarios in which the ever-cautious Hermione could have been lured in to a trap and kept there rushed through his mind. He grasped Ginny’s hand and followed after Ron.
“Harry,” Ginny whispered as they tried to keep up with Ron’s sprint, “He’s gone mad. He will do anything to find her. Harry, he was going to hit poor Neville.”
“I know, Ginny,” Harry said, catching up to Ron, “It’s ok. We’ll find her.”
Harry wasn’t sure if he was speaking to Ron or Ginny or himself, but he meant it. They would find her.
“The seventh floor,” Ron said, his jaw set, “You know what that means?”
“The Room of Requirement,” Ginny breathed.
“But, that means that…” Harry was recalling his own troubles last year in getting to Malfoy when he had no idea what Malfoy had conjured the room to do. How were they going to get to Hermione if they didn’t know who had put her there or why?
“Yeah,” Ron snapped, “I don’t know how, but I’ll get to her.”
Harry looked at Ginny who looked back with fear in her eyes. They didn’t speak for the rest of the assent to the seventh floor.
Reaching the seventh floor right across from the familiar tapestry was the blank wall that would reveal the Room of Requirement should one know how to conjure it up. There was absolute silence.
“I don’t hear any-” Ginny was cut off by a strangled cry intermingled with sobs.
“No! Ron! Oh, God, Ron!”
It was Hermione’s voice.
“I’m here, Hermione!” Ron shouted into the wall, “I’m right here!”
“Ron! Please, Ron! No!! It can’t be! Ron!”
Ron paced back and forth in front of the room. Harry and Ginny stood back, watching. Ginny grasped Harry’s hand in a death grip. She looked as scared as Harry felt. Harry knew that Ron was thinking, willing the door to appear to lead them to Hermione. After several minutes of nothing, Hermione’s voice trailed off, and only muffled sobs were heard. Ron ran at the non-existent door, beating it with his fists, yelling in frenzy.
“Let me in! Bloody hell! You bloody stupid door! Let. ME. In!”
He slumped against the wall, his face white.
“Ron, we’ll get to her. I promise,” Ginny said, “Maybe we should tell Lupin. I mean, he’s looking for her anyway. We should tell him that we found her.”
“We didn’t find her, Ginny,” Ron managed to say in a strangled voice. He held out his hands in front of him, “She’s not here right now. We’ve done nothing!”
“Get up, Ron,” Harry said, taking charge, hiding the fear he, himself, felt, “We have to go to Lupin. We have to figure out who put her here, and what they asked the room to turn into. It’s the only way.”
“It was Lavender, wasn’t it?” Ron said, latching only to the last part of Harry’s assessment.
“Lavender’s mean, Ron, but I don’t see her putting Hermione here just out of jealousy,” Ginny said slowly.
“Didn’t you just finish lecturing Harry on how horrible Lavender was going to be. ‘Keep an eye on her’ you said. And I didn’t. I failed her.”
“Ron, snap out of it,” Ginny said in a surprisingly firm voice, “You can’t give up before you’ve started.”
At this, Ron sprang up from his slump against the wall, and moved briskly down the stairs. Hermione began to call for him again, and Ron stopped in his tracks, turning back. Harry and Ginny moved as one toward Ron, forcing him back.
“Ron, we can’t do anything for her by sitting here,” Harry said.
Ron adopted a fierce expression, “No. I’m going to find out who did this. I’ll get her out.”
Ron walked rapidly in the direction of the common room. Harry really thought he should alert Lupin to the developments.
“Ginny, follow him. Make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid. I’ll be right there,” Harry whispered into her ear.
“Where are you going, then?”
“I have to tell Lupin. He has all the teachers searching for her. I think he should know we’ve found her. Besides, someone’s bound to be on the seventh floor at some point and they’ll hear her.”
Ginny nodded, looking over her shoulder at Ron. She spoke, not in a worried voice, but with a strong, deliberate tone, “Be careful Harry. There’s something here now. It could be after you next.”
Harry smiled weakly, “I’ll be careful.”
He kissed her full on the mouth, indulging in a pure moment of happiness before turning back to horrid thoughts of his best friend being tortured just a few floors above.
“Go,” Harry said.
Ginny turned and followed Ron. Harry headed in the opposite direction, towards Lupin’s office. Luckily, he ran into Lupin before making it twelve paces from where he left Ginny.
“Harry, have you found her yet?” Lupin’s voice was strained.
Harry nodded, “Yes. She’s been put into the Room of Requirement.”
Harry began to explain the room and all it entailed, but Lupin held up a hand to stop him.
“Really, Harry, you think I went to school with James and Sirius and didn’t find that room. I know what it does. And I also know that this is not good.”
“Professor, we can figure this out, can’t we?”
“Harry, listen very carefully. Tell no one about this. We’re going to close off the seventh floor. If we alert the culprit that we know what he or she has done, Hermione may be in even greater danger. Continue on with your activities as usual. The teachers will meet after dinner to discuss this. By tomorrow morning, we’ll have a solution. I promise,” Lupin placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder.
Lupin gave Harry a reassuring smile. Harry was not so sure that Ron was not already tearing up the common room interrogating everyone there. He nodded, “Ok, professor. I should get back to the common room.”
Lupin smiled and called, “And Harry, tell Ron that we’ll get her back. She’ll be ok. Make sure he’s not wreaking major havoc.”
Harry nodded again, and headed to the common room. He was met with a scene that would have been funny had Ron not been so clearly distressed, on the point of breakdown. Ron was frantically attempting to climb up the slide that had materialized in place of stairs up to the girl’s dormitory.
“Lavender!” he was shouting, “Get down here! I know you hear me!”
Ginny rushed at Harry, stopping right in front of him, “Harry, I had him under control until right before you came in. Harry, this,” she indicated Ron’s meltdown, “is horrible. I’ve never seen him act like this.”
Harry couldn’t stand to watch this, but it seemed that every Gryffindor in the common room could. They were all watching Ron with the same fascination with which people view a train crash. Lavender came out of the girl’s dorm looking confused. Her eyes lit on Ron, clawing at the smooth marble shouting at her.
“What’s up with you?” Lavender asked in a dismissive tone.
“You! I know you did it! What did you do to her?” Ron shouted.
Harry decided that now was the time to intervene. He pulled Ron away from the slide, with some difficulty.
“It’s nothing Lavender. He’s just upset over something. It’s nothing to do with you, really.”
Pulling a struggling Ron away, Harry whispered in his best friend’s ear, “Ron, we have a plan. Calm down. Lupin reckons we shouldn’t broadcast the fact that Hermione’s trapped upstairs.”
“You told Lupin?” Ron asked. Now that Harry had him seated in an armchair by the fire, people continued to stare at Ron.
“Go on, then!” Harry shouted, waving the attention of his classmates away. Neville, however, moved tentatively closer to Harry, Ginny, and Ron.
“Harry, I didn’t tell anyone else. What happened?” he asked timidly.
“She’s gone. It’s my fault,” Ron muttered. His face was slack now. He looked as though he no longer had the energy to function.
“What?!?” Neville exclaimed.
“No, Neville, she’s not gone,” Ginny said placing a comforting hand on Neville’s round shoulder, “She’s trapped in the Room of Requirement. Don’t worry; she’ll be fine.”
Neville nodded, “Ok, I have to go-dinner. I-well-Hermione’s going to be all right?”
Ginny gave him a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, but was, nevertheless soothing, “Yes, Neville. Thanks to you. If you hadn’t come and got Ron, we may have gone days without finding her. Thank you.”
Ron seemed to come to himself long enough to say, “Yeah, thanks.”
Neville hobbled away, and Harry called him back saying, “We should keep this quiet. The teachers are putting together a plan of action, but we need to make sure this doesn’t get out.”
Neville gave a short nod and walked away. The common room had emptied now that Ron’s little performance had been cut short. Everyone had gone to dinner. Ginny sat on the floor leaning against Harry’s legs, and holding Ron’s limp hand in hers from the chair across from her.
“Ron, look, I talked to Lupin,” Harry started, not really sure if Ron was absorbing anything he was saying, “He said they were closing off the seventh floor, and not to tell anyone about Hermione. He doesn’t want to alert the person who did this to the fact that we know where Hermione is. We don’t want him/her on guard. So, just keep it quiet. They said they’ll have a plan by morning.”
“Morning?” Ron said, gaining some color in his cheeks, “Harry, she could be dead by morning. Whoever put her there is going to come back sooner or later. He might’ve been in there with her. Who knows what they’re doing to her…I’ve never heard her shout like that, Harry. Never. She could be gone. And I wasn’t there. I was three bloody feet away and I COULDN’T GET TO HER!”
“Ron,” Ginny breathed, getting up and pulling her brother into her arms, “This is NOT your fault. Get yourself together. We’ll get her back.”
Ron pulled away, and shook himself as though to rid himself of the grief he felt.
“Right, well, what does Lupin suggest that we do now?” he asked with not a little sarcasm.
“Well, he told me to tell you that we’ll get her back and not to wreak too much havoc,” Harry said, “But having failed to prevent that, he said to go through our regular activities.”
“Sure, let’s go eat while I think about my girlfriend being subjected to torture, calling out to me, and I’ll be enjoying a nice kidney pie.”
“Ron,” said Ginny reprovingly, “Harry and Lupin are right. We have to go on with our normal routine. Maybe we’ll notice something that could help us find out who did it.”
Ron stood, “Well, let’s go then.”
“So, we’re going to get no emotion now,” Harry sighed.
“Yes, well, when it comes to mood swings, Ron is the reigning champion,” Ginny said, “But at least there’s a cause here. Let’s follow him down. I don’t trust him right now. He’s liable to jump at the first person walking by.”
Sitting at dinner, the three watched every person in the hall, watching for signs. Harry kept looking up at the staff table. He felt a pang that Dumbledore’s death hadn’t entrered his mind for several hours. That triggered the thought that he had been planning to show Ron, Hermione, and Ginny that memory in the Pensieve later this week: in the Rom of Requirement. He wondered whether he’d ever be able to enter that room again. Watching Lupin speaking to the other teachers, they all seemed very subdued. Harry was jolted from his thoughts by a snide, high pitched voice behind him.
“So, Potter, having another vision? Trying to get someone else killed? I don’t know that you could do better than Dumbledore, but I guess when you start at the top, it’s hard to top that.”
The voice belonged to Slytherin girl Pansy Parkinson.
“I wasn’t aware that you were back, Pansy. Tried to close the gates on you, and you slipped right through them, didn’t you?” Ginny said with a sneer,
“I missed the train, so I missed the feast. Not that it’s any of your affair. I just came by to say that you’d better watch yourselves. The Dark Lord will empty the prison sooner or later,” Pansy said in that obnoxiously shrill voice.
“Is that a threat?” Harry asked.
“Oh, don’t worry, Harry, she just wants her little Malfoy-toy back. Though it must be said, Parkinson, he treated you like rubbish. Don’t know why you would want him back. He spent more time plotting against the Muggle-borns and Dumbledore than he spent paying attention to you,” Ginny said in a pleasant tone that belied her words.
She had struck a nerve. Pansy screwed up her face in anger.
“Ooh, you look better that way, Parkinson. Let me freeze it for you,” Ginny fingered her wand in her pocket.
Harry knew she would never pull a wand on Pansy in the Great Hall, but, as he suspected, Pansy pulled hers.
Pointing the wand low so that the teachers couldn’t see it, she muttered, “You’ll get yours, Weasley. Your good looks and hero boyfriend can protect you all the time. And he,” she pointed at Ron who was sitting in silence, “doesn’t really seem to be the over-protective brother, does he?”
Ron started in his seat, and looked at Pansy. His face reflected serious thought going on as he stared at the wand Pansy held. He looked down at the pocket of her robes, but said nothing. Pansy sneered and walked away with a look of malice on her face.
“Ginny, you shouldn’t have done that,” Harry said.
“Please. Harry, I could hex that girl coming up behind me from a mile away. Honestly, she’s the worst witch I’ve ever seen.”
Harry knew Ginny really could take care of herself, so he nodded. But he would be on his guard. Suddenly, Ron gave a shout.
“There were two-and one was-I know now! It was-” Ron spoke in angry bursts, not finishing one thought before he bolted up to rush from the hall without a word to Harry and Ginny.
“He has been dating Hermione for too long,” Harry sighed, “We’d better follow him.”
“I’m getting really sick of chasing him around like a hound,” Ginny said, panting as they caught up with Ron who was headed in the direction that Pansy had gone.
“Would you so kindly finish at least one of the thoughts running through your thick skull?” Ginny questioned as they drew level with Ron, who did not stop moving to explain.
“She had two wands,” Ron said simply.
“Gonna need more information, Ron,” Harry said beginning to get frustrated.
“Parkinson had two wands. The wand she pulled out wasn’t hers. The one sticking out of her pocket must have been hers.”
“And this would indicate…what? Ron, I’m lost. Help me out,” Ginny said.
“She pulled Hermione’s wand on you. She knows where Hermione is. She took her wand.” Ron stopped short, catching Harry and Ginny off guard and they kept moving, unable to stop. They threw on the brakes and turned around.
“Hermione’s up there being tortured and she doesn’t even have her wand!” Ron’s face distorted in anger.
“Ron, c’mon, we’ll go get Lupin, and he can question Parkinson,” Harry said, logically.
“NO! I am not leaving her up there for one more second when I can find out NOW how to get to her. You two don’t have to come, but I’m tracking that witch down!”
“Of course we’re coming, Ron. We’re just as worried about Hermione!” Ginny said, moving forward again, “Well, come on. We want to catch her before she goes into the Slytherin common room, don’t we?”
The three moved towards the dungeons before realizing that they should have caught up to Pansy already.
“Where could she have-” Ginny started.
“She’s upstairs.” Ron stated bluntly, and took of in a run.
Moving as quickly as they could through every shortcut they’d learned in their many years at Hogwarts, the three managed to cut Pansy off right in front of the Room of the Requirement.
“You!” Ron yelled, pulling his wand out and pointing it right under Pansy’s chin.
“Ron!” Ginny yelled.
Harry silenced her. He didn’t think Ron would seriously hurt Pansy, but he might if someone attempted to stop him.
“Ah, Weasley! Got a bigger spring in your step now, have you? You were a bit like a snail at dinner tonight,” Pansy sneered without a trace of fear.
“Just tell me how to get in, Parkinson, and I won’t hurt you,” Ron said through his teeth.
“Figured it out did you? I realized too late that I’d pulled out the Mudblood’s wand instead of my own. I saw you recognize it, so I can up here. If she’s dead, I wanted to dispose of the body before you got here-”
Ron pushed his wand into Pansy’s skin, his voice enraged, “She’s not dead! I don’t care why you did it, though I guess you think you had reason. I just want to know how to get in. I. WILL. HURT. YOU.”
It sounded so believable and frightening. Harry knew Ron would do it, and he didn’t want his friend to become a killer. But, he saw a flash of fear on Pansy’s face, and knew that she would tell Ron what he wanted to know.
“I asked for a room that would scare Granger…to death. A soundproof room that’s impossible to get out of from within,” Pansy said in a strangled tone; Ron’s wand was impairing her breathing.
“Watch her,” Ron shoved Pansy at Harry as he pace din front of the room, repeating in his thoughts what Pansy had told him.
“Malfoy always cared more about plotting against Granger than he did about me. I wanted her to pay. She helped put him in prison. You’ll all pay,” Pansy shrieked as the door appeared to the room.
“Why is it that whenever you guys are found out when you’re doing something horrible, you feel the need to monologue?” Ginny wondered aloud before placing the Petrificus Totalus spell on Pansy and following Ron into a dark, dank room. On the floor, as Harry had witnessed once before at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, was a dead Ron.
“How?” Ginny asked.
With a flash, the body turned to a dead Ginny. This was Harry’s fear, and he knew that this was a boggart.
“Ridikulus!” he shouted and the body was gone in a flash of light, “It was a boggart,” Harry whispered, “But I’m guessing Hermione didn’t know it.”
Ron looked over in the corner where Harry had nodded. He rushed to the seemingly life-less body, and Harry moved in that direction as well. Ginny put a hand on his arm and drew him back, shaking her head. This was Ron’s time.
Near tears, and shocked beyond comprehensive thought, Ron pulled Hermione’s limp body into his arms,
“Hermione, no…come back to me.”
Memories flashed through his mind: the first time he met Hermione on the Hogwarts Express, when he and Harry saved her from a troll, when she had been Petrified and he had thought he would die for fear. And now, she wasn’t just petrified. The girl who had sent birds zooming at him in an attack of jealousy he should have recognized was laying limp in his arms. He should have told her sooner that he loved her; he shouldn’t have wasted last year with Lavender when he could have been with her.
Clutching her tight and rocking her, Ron couldn’t let himself cry. All he could think was that if he’d been a bit earlier…
“Ron! Oh, Ron! You’re alive! You’re alive!” Hermione had woken from a self-imposed sleep and her voice trembled with tears. She turned in Ron’s arms and melted into them.
“I thought you were dead,” Ron said hoarsely.
“Pansy-she t-told me in this really horrible voice that she’d heard you calling f-for help in this room. I d-don’t even k-know where I am. I j-just rushed in here to help you and the door locked and you were dead. Over and over you died. I thought I was going to die, Ron. I thought I was going to die.”
“Shhh,” Ron stroked her hair and lifted her face to his for a kiss that made Harry nudge Ginny and they looked down at the floor in discomfort, “I’m here. Hermione, I thought you were dead, too. You were yelling for me, Hermione. And I couldn’t get to you. I was three feet outside that wall, and I couldn’t get to you. I would have hammered it down if I could.”
“It wouldn’t have done any good,” Hermione sniffed, “The charm placed on this room would have held up and you would have just found rubble of an empty wall. I read about this charm last year after we found the room. It’s called a hidandsek charm-”
Ron cut her off with another kiss and a smile, “Glad to have you back, Hermione.”
They cuddled together in oblivion as Harry and Ginny moved out to fetch Lupin.
A/N: This was a LONG one. But fun to write. Hope you liked it. One big thing: I’ve had a lot of response to the fact that Harry told Hagrid what his plan was. I want to clarify that all Harry told him was that he would be leaving school early to visit his parent’s graves. That’s also all that Mrs. Weasley was told. They assume he’ll be searching for Voldemort as well, but no one other than Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny know o the Horcruxes. Just clearing that up! And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE review!
A/N: So sorry it took me so long. I’ll have an update VERY soon after this, I swear. So enjoy, and I will update soon. I swear.
“Hermione, it’s alright. I’m right here. In fact, you’re crushing my hand, so you have to know that I’m right here,” Ron chuckled softly as he, Hermione, Harry, and Ginny stood once more at the wall that would form into the room the foursome required tonight.
“I’m sorry,” Hermione breathed shakily, “It’s just…well, I know it’ll look differently this time than it did…just a ridiculous fear, I guess.”
“It’s not ridiculous,” Ginny said, leaving Harry’s side to put an arm around Hermione, “But we’re all here now, Hermione. And we all have wands!”
“And a Pensieve,” Ron added.
“What good will that do if someone attacks us?” Hermione queried.
“I dunno, chuck it at them,” Ron shrugged.
“Really, Ron, the ideas you come up with!” Hermione said, but she was no longer shifting her weight nervously.
“Harry, you’re sure Lupin didn’t tell the other professors where the room is?” Hermione asked nervously.
“Yeah,” Harry said, “Ginny was there, too. She can vouch for it. Lupin said he didn’t feel the need to worry the teachers about the location of the room. Seems Trelawney ‘had a vision that terrible things would happen if the location was revealed.’”
“Sure she did,” Ron snorted, “Where else would she hide her sherry bottles.”
“Lupin knew, I think. So did the other teachers, I suppose, but they didn’t need to know where it was yet. We got to Hermione before they’d even come up with a plan,” Ginny laughed.
“Even if they don’t know where this is, I’d feel better if we got on with it,” Hermione whispered.
Harry nodded. He was not looking forward to this. But he nevertheless paced three times in front of the room thinking, “I need a comfortable, private room. I need a comfortable, private room. I need a comfortable, private room.”
A door appeared, and Ginny moved to push it open. The other three followed her into a small room with a large, plush sofa before a warm, glowing fire. A small table rested directly in front of the sofa, and Harry placed the small Pensieve on it.
“Harry…you’re ready?” Ginny asked softly as Ron and Hermione nestled on the sofa.
“I’ll never really be ready to relive this,” Harry answered, “But it needs to be done, right?” He attempted to offer a smile, but failed.
“Right,” whispered Ginny, placing her hand to Harry’s cheek.
He smiled weakly and held her hand to his face, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and released her hand.
“Let’s get this done.”
He placed his wand to his temple, and transferred the memory into the Pensieve. Ron and Hermione moved tentatively to the floor beside the Pensieve.
“You’re sure, Harry?” Hermione asked.
“Will everyone stop asking me that?” Harry said, exasperated.
“Ok, then, mate. Let’s go,” Ron said with a surprisingly firm tone. He had been much more self-assured since they had saved Hermione.
Harry nodded and the four leaned forward into the Pensieve.
“I-I’ve got a job to do.”
“Well, then you must get on and do it, my dear boy.”
Dumbledore’s soft voice reverberated as the four huddled together watching Malfoy attempt to summon the courage to kill Dumbledore. Ginny clasped Harry round the middle, holding tight. Ron and Hermione were joined together as well by linked arms. Unlike the scene they had witnessed before, Hermione seemed unable to allow herself to move about. She was frozen, as were the rest: they knew what was to come.
“Why didn’t you try and stop me, then?”
“I tried, Draco. Professor Snape has been keeping watch over you on my orders-”
The group watched the scene play out, concentrating despite their gazed looks of horror. Death Eaters began to file in. The man called Amycus and them Alecto followed by Fenrir Greyback. And finally: Snape. He came pounding up the stairs and bursting out onto the roof.
“We’ve got a problem Snape. The boy doesn’t seem to be able to-”
Tears filled Hermione’s eyes as Dumbledore’s feeble voice broke in.
Before any of them could think, could ponder these words. Faster even then they could have blinked, a flash of green light illuminated the night.
As Dumbledore was blasted into the air, Hermione let out a shrieking sob.
“No! Oh God, no!”
She huddled into a very frightened looking Ron, and he took her in his arms as she sobbed uncontrollably.
“Come on,” Harry said without emotion, “WE have to follow him. See…there I go.”
Ginny was extremely strong. Silent tears coursed down her cheeks, but she and Harry supported one another down the stairs, Ron nearly carrying a still sobbing Hermione with him.
They watched themselves fight Death Eaters, and managed to find a way outside to follow Harry who was chasing Snape.
“There,” Harry pointed, his voice still flat.
Hermione pulled out of Ron’s arms, still crying. She ran at Snape as if not realizing that he was a memory. She stopped short in front of the memory, and looked between the man who had killed Dumbledore to the form of her best friend, dueling with the murderer. Ron reached her, and attempted to pull her back into his arms, but she shrugged him off. Her sobs had trailed away, leaving her crying nearly inaudibly. She was listening intently to what Snape was saying to Harry.
As Snape made off and Harry turned to Hagrid’s flaming hut, Hermione allowed Ron to lead her away. The group followed memory Harry and Hagrid back to the castle where memory Harry stood in shock. Ginny was emerging from the castle, and Harry remembered vividly what he was viewing. Hermione, Ron, Harry, and Ginny reached the site where Hagrid was crumpled on the ground and there he was.
Dumbledore. Splayed on the ground. There was no life in him. How could this man, this wonderfully wise man so full of life, able to defeat great wizards, fall prey to someone he thought of as an ally. Hermione was crying again, and Harry became aware of Ginny shaking violently with sobs. Ron looked ashen, his eyes filled with moisture, unshed. And Harry knew it was time to go.
He reached for Hermione’s hand and the four of them, all linked, were whisked back into the room where the fire seemed too cheery and the cozy feel of the room felt far to comfortable. Hermione collapsed at one end of the couch, curled into Ron. Harry and Ginny fell into the other end. Ginny shook with grief and Hermione could be heard sobbing as well.
“H-how? I-I c-can’t put it together. He w-was such a g-great wizard. Th-the greatest wizard. T-to s-see it h-happen! I d-didn’t really expect it. I w-wasn’t ready. I d-don’t think I w-would ever have b-been ready. God! Just s-seeing him. D-dead, like that!”
“Shh…” Ron murmured, turning her head into his chest where her cries became muffled. This was both to comfort Hermione and to quiet her. Harry was clearly in shock, and Ginny surfaced, wiping her eyes.
She pulled Harry’s head against her chest, cradling him like a child. They all sat this way for the better part of half an hour. When the tears had been exhausted, Hermione sat up.
“Harry…I’m so sorry you had to go through that,” she said in a relatively strong voice, “I think I have some ideas.”
“You ready to talk logic, Hermione?” Ron asked, looking her in the eye.
Hermione nodded, “Yes. Harry, I don’t think Dumbledore would ever plead for his life like that. Think about all you know of the man; it’s a great deal more than the rest of us, and even I know that he’s not a man to beg and plead with someone not to kill him. Maybe-and don’t be mad Harry, because I want to kill Snape as much as you do, but-Harry, I think Dumbledore was asking Snape to kill him. There is no way Dumbledore was out of the loop on the terms of the Unbreakable Vow. He had to know that Snape was going to have to kill him eventually. And Dumbledore wasn’t looking too well. He might have known he wasn’t going to make it, and he didn’t want Snape giving up the fact that he had been playing both sides.”
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but Hermione said, “No, Harry, don’t. I know as well as you do that Snape is a horrible man. He’s not coming back to our side. I don’t think he’s gone over to that side, but neither do I think he’s a good guy. Snape just does whatever will best fit his means. But the big thing here is that Dumbledore had to have a very good reason to trust Snape. He wasn’t stupid, and I don’t think he told you everything.”
Harry was silent. Hermione continued, “Plus, as he was leaving he told you to keep your mind and your mouth shut. That’s pretty sound Occlumency advice, don’t you think?”
Harry didn’t speak. Ron sighed as the silence stretched.
“Look, I’m tired, mate. I say we sleep on it and talk about it later.”
Ron suggestion was met with whole-hearty agreement form Ginny, who hadn’t said anything since they returned.
“Yeah, I’m really wiped,” she said, looking Harry in the eye with a pleading look that mirrored the one Harry felt. He just wanted to sleep and forget for a few hours.
“Right, let’s go then.”
The four moved to the door with a feeling of melancholy so intense that Harry did not unfold the Marauder’s map. This proved to be a very big mistake.
“Potter! Weasley! Ms. Granger! And Ms. Weasley! After what happened a couple of weeks ago, I would think you would know better than to be out at night! To my office. Now!”
Professor McGonagall dressed in a bathrobe and holding a candle looked very cross indeed, and the four of them shared a look of dread. They had messed up this time. Harry grasped Ginny’s hand as they followed McGonagall silently to her office. A thought hit Harry like the wind being knocked out of him by a physical blow:
McGonagall is the headmistress. They would be going to the Headmistress’s office. Where Dumbledore’s portrait was hanging.
A/N: Very short, I know. And I’m sorry, but I’ll update again very very soon, I promise. SO, really it’s like a bonus! Please review!
A/N: I am so sorry that it took so long to update; I know you guys are sick of hearing that. But this is such an incredibly important chapter that I needed to seriously contemplate how to go about it. I am not J.K. Rowling, so I do not have all the answers. I did my best, made a valiant effort. So, let’s see how it turns out, shall we?
Harry jolted as a warm hand grasped his own, cold, clammy hand. He looked down to see Ginny, smiling grimly up at him. Still in route to Professor McGonagall’s office, Harry and the others moved with stiff fear and anxious anticipation. Hermione seemed to be unrecognizing of anything. She was deep in thought. Ron was nervously wringing his hands until Hermione came out of whatever stupor she was in to place her hands over Ron’s to stop the movement. She smiled wanly at him, and he put his arm around her waist. Ginny looked knowingly at Harry, understanding his apprehension. Ron did too, Harry knew. But Hermione had never been to the Headmaster’s office. She didn’t know of the portraits.
Professor McGonagall stopped abruptly in front of the statue of the gargoyle that stood guard in front of the office. She had not said one word since she’d apprehended the foursome upstairs. Harry had no idea if she knew that they had been in the Room of Requirement or even why she had felt the sudden need to take a trip upstairs in the middle of the night.
“Jelly slugs,” McGonagall’s voice rang sharply through the silence as the gargoyle jumped aside and a door opened, revealing a spiral staircase. Harry appeared stunned for a moment, until Ginny tugged on his hand to move him forward, under McGonagall’s fierce gaze. It softened a bit as Harry looked from the gargoyle to McGonagall and back again.
“I felt that it should be kept the same…for a bit at least,” McGonagall said quietly to Harry.
Harry nodded, understanding McGonagall’s need to hold onto the last password Dumbledore had instituted. Harry highly doubted that severe Professor McGonagall would have a candy as her password. But Dumbledore would…
Harry shook his head of thoughts of Dumbledore. He would soon be encountering the man once more, and he was not ready for that yet. Climbing the stairs behind Ginny, Harry wasn’t even able to admire the view. He was too busy contemplating Dumbledore’s existence in the portrait. He had been made privy to many of the opinions of the other portraits, but he didn’t know those people when they had been alive. Were people different in portraits? Were there barriers to their abilities? Could they retain their personalities from life? Before he could think too deeply into it, Harry was in the office. Whereas with Dumbledore, the office had been home to many interesting and eclectic artifacts and gadgets, it was now…sparse. That was the only word for the lack of decoration or décor. Harry felt a pang as he noticed the lack of a stand where Fawkes the phoenix usually perched. He hadn’t really thought about the loss of the bird. He shoved the feeling aside. More important matters were at hand.
The four teens hovered about the office. There was no desk nor were there chairs. What were they supposed to do? McGonagall emerged from the staircase, and waved her wand. A simple, wooden desk appeared in the middle of the room surrounded by four straight-backed chairs.
“Sit,” McGonagall said shrilly.
They sat. Silently.
“I’m not going to even try and figure out WHY ON EARTH YOU FOUR WERE OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!” Professor McGonagall began speaking softly and slowly, and somehow picked up both speed and momentum at the same time. Harry and Ginny looked McGonagall in the eye. Ron was looking around the room, not even listening to McGonagall while Hermione gazed at her hands in her lap, completely abashed. Harry thought that Ron had probably heard Mrs. Weasley shout so often that he could almost ignore McGonagall.
Ginny and Harry, while appearing to be humbled, managed to keep their heads up. For Harry, it was mostly so that he wouldn’t glance around and see what he was sure Ron wad looking for right then. Better to concentrate on the disciplinary actions taking place than to risk conversations with the man whom Harry and trusted above all others and whom Harry hadn’t been able to save. And so, McGonagall’s rant continued without interruption.
“I WOULD THINK THAT AFTER THE INCIDENT WITH MS.GRANGER LAST MONTH, YOU WOULD BE MORE CAUTIOUS ABOUT SNEAKI NG AROUND! HONESTLY! WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU TO REALIZE HOW DANGEROUS IT IS TO BE WANDERING-”
Harry winced as a familiar voice cut calmly into McGonagall’s diatribe. The voice that had always given comfort and reassurance. The voice that made tears spring to Harry’s eyes, quickly blinked back.
“Minerva!” the voice said tranquilly but with an air of authority not befitting to a portrait.
“Oh!” McGonagall said, startled.
“I do not presume to take over, here, Minerva, but may I make a suggestion or two?”
“Oh, of course, Headmaster,” McGonagall replied politely.
“Minerva, I have asked you repeatedly not to call me that. I am no longer the Headmaster; you are the Headmistress now.”
“I’m sorry, Albus. Habit.”
Harry was still staring at his knees, but he could see Ginny and Ron focusing on the exchange between the portrait and McGonagall. Hermione was watching with her intent concentration. Harry didn’t see shock on her face, however. She had clearly known about the portraits. But she had never been in the office before. But that was of little consequence now. If he could just make it through without making any eye contact with Dumbledore, he would be fine. No breakdowns or guilt to be had.
“Ahh…I see that you three can’t stay out of trouble, even in your seventh year. I should say, I would have thought that six years of lessons should have taught you better by now. And Ms. Weasley. Welcome to the group,” Dumbledore spoke with a clear note of amusement, “I did not think it would be long before you joined these three disciplinary challenged students.”
Ginny blushed red. Harry nearly smiled. He could see, in his mind’s eye, Dumbledore sitting behind his desk, speaking to the four of them. But, he reminded himself, it was not really Dumbledore.
“Headmistress, I did not mean to interfere. I only assumed that these students are going to continue to break rules, no matter the consequences. I thought I might be able to save you some time,” Dumbledore was most definitely concealing amusement under a tone of gravity.
“Of course, Albus,” McGonagall said, with a sigh, “Now, before I decide on punishments, I want you four to answer me honestly. Were you in the Room of Requirement?”
“Yes,” they all said in low, grumbling tones. There was no reason to deny what McGonagall clearly knew.
“Very well,” she said in a tired voice, “Mr.Weasley, Ms. Weasley, Ms. Granger, if you would be so kind,” she said with a note of sarcasm, “please show me where this room is and how it works. I must seal it.”
“Oh, Professor, it won’t be that easy,” Hermione spoke in a shaky, but sure voice.
“No?” Professor McGonagall said, “All the more reason for me to take you three with me. Come along then. I’d like to get a bit of sleep tonight, if you don’t mind.”
“What about Harry?” Ron asked, looking confused.
“Mr. Potter can stay here. We won’t be long.”
That was all the explanation they were given, but they didn’t need any more than that. Harry was to be left to speak with Dumbledore; just what Harry had feared.
Ginny gave Harry’s hand a squeeze. Harry looked her in the eye, and she gave him a look that said, “Get over it, Potter. You’re a big boy. You can handle it.”
Harry smiled, and squeezed her hand back. The group trundled out of the room, leaving Harry alone with his ghosts. And one of those ghosts was somewhat alive, in the form of a portrait. But Harry still couldn’t bring himself to look at the portrait he’d only viewed once before; right after Dumbledore’s death. He had been sleeping then, but, although there was silence in the room, Harry knew that Dumbledore was not sleeping now.
“Harry,” the voice rang out, “Harry, you can look at me, you know.”
Harry shook his head, “No. I can’t. Professor…is it…is that portrait you?”
There was a small chuckle, “Yes, Harry. It’s me, and it is not me. It is very difficult to explain to you, but for the purposes of which you speak, yes. It is me.”
Harry looked up, tentatively, and he saw Dumbledore. Just as Harry remembered him. Grave, wise, with a twinkle in his eye. How could a painting have that twinkle?
“Harry, we haven’t much time before they get back, and it is most important that you hear what I have to say.”
“Wait, Professor. There’s something I have to ask, something that you probably aren’t going to answer right now, but I have to know that I haven’t betrayed your trust. I told Ginny. About the Horcruxes. About Voldemort. About everything. I know you told me only to tell Ron and Hermione, but you see I-”
“Well done, Harry,” Dumbledore said.
“Harry, don’t you see? That’s exactly what I wanted you to do. Telling the people you love what is important to you is what was important to me. You see, by telling your secrets—and these are big secrets, Harry—you can love. And love-”
“I know…it’s the best weapon I have.”
Dumbledore smiled in his frame, “You are closer than you think to finding that out, Harry. You still don’t believe me, but it is true, I assure you. Now, Harry you must listen to me now. I realize that you saw Severus murder me. That is how it would seem to you, Harry, and he may have even enjoyed killing me. I do not know. I do know that the hate I saw in his face was real, but he killed me out of necessity. I knew, you see, that the Unbreakable Vow he made with Narcissa Malfoy—that will be Draco’s mother, entailed terms that would, unfortunately end in my demise. I thought that I would be able to persuade Draco to come to our side, but, alas, I did not. Severus had no choice but to kill me, and, quite honestly Harry, I knew I could not survive after having taken so much of that poison. Not even Severus could have saved me. I was going to have him fetched only to tell him that he should stage my death then. He gave me too much useful information for Voldemort to find out about it.”
“But, sir, I still don’t understand how you can know that Snape was on our side. He killed you! And he enjoyed it! He’s despicable!”
“Harry, Harry,” Dumbledore sighed, “I didn’t wish to have to tell you this, but it appears that I will have to.” He chuckled, “Never quick to just accept what you’re told, are you Harry? Well, I suppose that is a useful attribute. Harry, Severus Snape hated your father for more reasons than you know of. It is the same reason that he was remorseful of your parent’s death, the reason I knew he was truly on our side, and most likely, the reason he hated me. Severus was very much in love with your mother.”
Harry’s jaw dropped, “Professor, really.”
“I know it sounds a bit dramatic and far-fetched to you, Harry. But I assure you, it’s true. Lily was a beautiful, kind woman. Even in school, as a teenager, she was unusually aware of the horrors of the world, and wished to right them. I believe that you witnessed one event when Severus was being tormented by your father, and Lily stood up for him. She did that all the time. And not just for Severus. She was something of a protector of the meek.”
“Snape wasn’t meek! And he was horrible to her! He called her…well, you know what he would call her!”
“Yes, Harry. I know it is hard to understand, and even harder for you to grasp, but I am telling you the truth. He loved her, but could not make that known. In his family, it would not have been acceptable to love a witch who was muggle-born, you see. And so he had to hate her. This is why he hated James. He hated Sirius as well, for the torment they caused, but his hate for James ran deeper. The night your parents died, Harry, Snape came to me in a condition that I could not even describe to you. He was grief-stricken at the fact that he had caused Lily’s death. I knew, then, that he was sincere. I realize that you think I was wrong to trust him; that I could not know, Harry, that he was truly remorseful. But, as good an Occlumens as Severus is, I am better. I know e was telling me the truth. I used Occlumency on him, but I did not need it. You see, it would seem a rather trivial and useless talent, but I can tell where love exists, Harry. I could have told you, for example, seven years ago, that Mr. Ron Weasley and Ms. Hermione Granger had a relationship in their future, and like wise with you and Ms. Weasley. Useless talent, I say, but I have not yet been wrong. Harry, you have been given many reasons that Severus Snape has saved you over the years. They are all true, but there’s more to it. Severus hates you, Harry. I will not deny this as I have in the past. He hate you because you are James’s son. But he felt the need to protect you because you are also Lily’s son.”
Harry sat in stunned silence. How could the violence, the hate, the trials he had faced with Snape over the years be trace to…love? It seemed too…well, too. There wasn’t a word to describe how outlandish the suggestion was. But, yet…it rang true.
“Harry, you needed to know. But I cannot help you further. I am assuming, I believe correctly, that you, Mr.Weasley, Ms. Granger, and Ms. Weasley will not be here at Hogwarts for much longer.”
“Ginny isn’t coming,” Harry said before he could even think of protesting. More proof that everything else flew out of his head at the thought of Ginny in danger. She hadn’t confronted him about the boggart the night Hermione had been trapped in the Room of Requirement, but Harry saw the recognition in her eyes. He was very concerned about Ginny’s safety.
“Ahh, Harry. You cannot protect everyone all the time. Do you know why I bound you that night we returned to Hogwarts from the cave? I knew you would feel the need to save me. And I knew that could not happen. Harry, you needn’t feel guilty when you cannot save everyone. You couldn’t save me. I know that, and you should come to realize. Just as you could not have saved Cedric or even Sirius. You should realize that your love for Ginny is reciprocated in her, and you may cause more damage keeping her away.”
“Right,” Harry said, taking what Dumbledore said to heart, but also thinking to himself that there was no way that Ginny was coming with them.
“Professor, what-” he broke off when he looked up to find that Dumbledore was gone from his frame. Harry gaped at it or a moment. Where had he gone? And as suddenly as he thought it, Dumbledore reappeared.
“Harry they’re coming back. I have told you all that you need to know. The rest is up to you. Good luck, Harry.”
Harry smiled, reminiscing.
“What is it, Harry?”
“I told Scrimgeour that you would only be truly gone when all that are loyal to you have left Hogwarts. There are more here that are loyal to you, Professor, and there always will be.”
“Thank you, Harry. Thank you very much,” Dumbledore spoke softly, but with emotion riddled in his tone.
For a moment, brief thought it was, Harry felt that things would be alright. He would leave Hogwarts and find the Horcruxes. Voldemort would be destroyed. It all went back to him. The deaths, the betrayals, all of it. When Voldemort was killed, everything would be set right. Harry looked Dumbledore in the eye, and nodded.
“I’ll win. I’ll face him, Professor, and I will win.”
Dumbledore gave a brief nod, his eye twinkling and a smile played at his lips as the sound of footsteps crashed up the stairs.
“I have no doubt, Harry. Remember that you must trust in your strength to love, Harry. Love will see you through. I have no doubt in you, Harry. None at all.”
A/N: Ok, I cried writing this. I miss Dumbledore soo much. I tried not to let the portrait Dumbledore give too much away. I firmly believe that Harry will have to find his own way without the help of an adult, father-figure. So, what did you guys think? Please review. Love you guys, and I promise that I won’t be so long in updating next time. This was just so important, I wanted to get it right. So, REVIEW PLEASE!
A/N: I tried to have this chapter up sooner than I usually do. So, mission accomplished? Anyway, I established quite a bit of new information in the last chapter. This chapter will pale in comparison. Also, I have a lot of storyline left. Should I cut this off, and make this a trilogy, or just stick with “Life Goes On?” Just wondering. Your input is greatly appreciated.
“Ugh! If I have to wash one more ink pellet stain, I’m going to-”
“Oh, come off it, Ron! You don’t have a choice! We got lucky, and you know it.”
“Oh, yeah, really lucky. Let me tell you, this is just how I wanted to spend my afternoons for well over two weeks.”
“Honestly, Ron, it could be worse! Professor McGonagall could have kicked us out. And we only have one day left of this. So it would be greatly appreciated by all if you would leave off complaining!”
“Yes, Hermione, because you’re really enjoying what we’re doing. This is your idea of fun, isn’t it?”
Harry and Ginny exchanged frustrating glances as the foursome finished up the second to last detention that they had received. Ginny’s eyes widened in a silent plea. Harry gave a nod, and Ginny smiled with malice.
“You two need to shove it! We have been listening to you for something along the line of two hours. Can you never stop bickering? Is that not an option? Because I know Harry and I are absolutely sick of it. Must you always fight?”
Ron and Hermione looked stunned at Ginny’s outburst.
“Sorry, Gin,” Ron said apologetically with a bit of shock in his voice to match that in his eyes.
“Yeah, Ginny, we didn’t mean anything by it,” Hermione added fervently.
“Right,” Ginny said, “I know. This is just how you two pass the time. And that’s fine. It’s who you are, and we love you guys, but c’mon! We’ve been doing this for two weeks and every night it turns into a bickering match! Can we just, not fight?”
Harry thought to himself with a smile that perhaps this is how the hatred he had seen between his fifteen year old parents had developed into love. This thought warmed him. If his parents loved each other half as much as Ron and Hermione loved each other, then they were lucky people.
“Listen, let’s just finish up and get out of here, all right?” Harry asked, creating a neutral ground for continuing their work of cleaning the Potions classroom. Since Professor Jenkins was a bit of a joke, students had taken to pulling multiple pranks and it resulted in a mess. And so every day for two weeks had been spent cleaning up after these students. They were all trying to take over Fred and George Weasley’s spot. It hadn’t been done the year before, and it wouldn’t be done this year either. It just made for a horrendous detention.
But Hermione was right. It could have been worse. After she, Ginny, and Ron had returned, Ron’s expression told Harry that the room had been sealed. Dumbledore had moved into his portrait and sat solemnly, listening to McGonagall’s administration of punishment. As she had walked into the office, McGonagall had glanced at the portrait, and Harry would have sworn Dumbledore nodded at her and that she had nodded back. Harry thought that this was, perhaps, to indicate that Harry and his friends were not planning to stay through the year. This was probably one of the reasons that they had not received harsher punishments.
Harry had related to Ginny, Ron, and Hermione what had happened between himself and Dumbledore; he looked at Hermione, a realization dawning on him.
“Hermione, how did you know that the portraits in the Headmaster’s office were there? You weren’t shocked at all.”
“Oh! I bet I can guess!” Ron said, “You read it in Hogwarts, A History or some other really large book that Harry and I will never read. That’s it, isn’t it?”
Hermione, instead of looking annoyed, sobered immediately, “No,” she said quietly.
“Hermione,” Ron said apologetically, putting an arm around her on the couch near the armchairs in the common room, “I wasn’t trying to poke fun at you. I was trying to get ahead of you. I just reckoned that that’s what you were going to say.”
“No, Ron,” she said with a watery smile, “I know. It’s just…I’d been to Dumbledore’s office. Last year.”
“What?” Harry and Ron said. Ginny said nothing.
“Ginny did you know?” Harry asked.
“Yes, she knew. I couldn’t tell either of you at the time. I was woken up last year on the morning of March 1.”
“That’s my birth…oh,” Ron trailed off.
Hermione nodded and continued, “It was Professor McGonagall. She said that there had been a serious accident and that I should go to Professor Dumbledore’s office. She took me there. At the time, I had thought it was Harry. Somehow, someone had gotten to you, Harry. I wasn’t paying particular attention to the décor, you know. But then, Professor Dumbledore came in and said that it would be a good idea if I could find Harry; that perhaps he wasn’t the person to explain it to me. I almost passed out then. I didn’t know what to think, so I demanded that he tell me. He got out the words, ‘Mr. Weasley has had an unfortunate accident this morning,” and I was out of the room, dashing to find you, Harry. The portraits weren’t really the foremost thing on my mind, you understand. I thought- I wasn’t sure if Ron was even alive. I told Ginny afterwards, because I couldn’t tell either of you without betraying how deeply I felt for Ron. It didn’t really seem important anyway.”
Ron pulled a now-shaking Hermione into his arms, “It’s ok, Hermione. I’m right here.”
They sat in silence for a bit until Harry said, “I think it was Dumbledore who told McGonagall that we were out of bed. He could move out of his portrait. I think he just wanted to get me into the office.”
“That sounds about right. He would need to talk to you. Those are important things he had to say. I believe him, Harry.” Ginny was perched on the arm of Harry’s armchair, her arm around his shoulders.
Harry sighed, “I don’t want to believe him.”
“But you do,” Ginny said with certainty, “You know Dumbledore wouldn’t make all that up just to cover for the man that killed him.”
“Umm, I know this is a really important conversation,” Ron started in a whisper, “But, ummm, well,” he gestured with his head at a sleeping Hermione resting against his chest.
“Yeah,” Harry sighed, “We should get some sleep. Detentions start tomorrow.”
Harry and Ginny stood up as Ron followed, Hermione cradled in his arms. Harry and Ginny were halfway up their respective staircases when they heard Ron clear his throat.
“Yes, well, that’s all good and fine, but I can’t get up that flight of steps without sliding all the way down, thanks.”
Ginny giggled, and whispered a charm that had Hermione’s sleeping form moving eerily up the staircase, “I’ll get her to bed, then. I know you probably wanted to, Ron. But she’s a heavy sleeper. You wouldn’t have had any luck.”
“Ha ha,” Ron said dryly.
They all made their ways up to bed not too thrilled about starting detentions the next day.
And so they all completed their detentions, a bit irritable, but surely not aiming to cause any more trouble that would land them in a detention. It dawned on Harry as the sweaty and less than chipper foursome made their way back to the Gryffindor common room with only one more day of servitude left, that perhaps that was the actual reasoning behind detention. Funny how he had never truly wanted to stay out of trouble to avoid detention before.
Passing the last day of detentions with no incident, Harry became aware of the fact that teachers kept bringing up exams. It was almost time to take the exams that they had missed last year. This also meant,
“We’ll be leaving soon, won’t we?” Hermione asked the night after the last detention at dinner.
“I expect so, yes,” Harry said, chewing his steak slowly in his mouth.
Ginny said nothing, and became very preoccupied with her food. Harry tried not to notice.
“Is it still…I mean can we…is the plan still to make a stop at my house? Just for a couple of days, I mean,” Hermione asked quickly.
Harry nodded immediately. He had thought about this, and though it meant setting them back even further, he knew why Hermione needed this. She may never see them again. Harry told himself firmly that this would not be the case, but he understood Hermione’s need.
“Have you written them? The exams are next Friday. We leave that night.” It seemed so much more concrete when dates were given. Harry felt a shudder at the thought of leaving security behind to travel in search of the most terrible wizard in history.
“I should write to Mum, soon too. I reckon I should write before I get my test scores back. That way I’m not in a location where she can send a Howler when she gets them,” Ron said dismally.
“Oh, nonsense, Ron. Here,” Hermione pulled out the familiar study schedule that she drew up every year, “follow that, and you’ll be fine.”
“Will you help me, Hermione?” Ron asked in a tone dripping with false sweetness, “Because really, as if these wonderful schedules weren’t enough, I’m going to need your brilliant mind to get me through this.”
Hermione moved towards the tall, redheaded boy seated next to her, planted a kiss on his lips, and pulled back smiling, “Hmm, nice as that all is…flattery will get you nowhere. It’s up to you, my dear. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the library.”
With that, she stood, leaving a crestfallen Ron in her wake, Harry and Ginny laughing hysterically on the opposite side of the table.
“Oh, bugger off you two!” he said.
“Ron, you should follow her,” Ginny said, “Go on, that way the entire library can see you get completely shut out by your girlfriend.”
Ron stood up in a huff, leaving Harry and Ginny laughing still more heartily. Harry sobered a bit as he thought of the imminent exams.
“Oh, here, she’s left one or you as well, Harry,” Ginny said, picking up the colorful schedule on the table.
“I should study,” Harry said, but it didn’t seem so important when he was faced with such a daunting task as finding the remaining Horcruxes and defeating Voldemort.
“You should study, yes, “Ginny said, “But I know you, Harry, and you will fin d something that, to you, is immensely more important than tests.”
She smiled, and with a peck on the lips said, “I have to go too. I have Quidditch practice.”
Harry had completely forgotten that Ginny was now Quidditch Captain. He had turned down the spot, much as Hermione had turned down the Head Girl slot. He knew it would be unfair to take it. Ginny had already held tryouts, and the team was looking dismal.
“Oh, have fun,” Harry said, trying to keep the jealousy in his tone to a minimum.
“Yeah,” Ginny snorted, “It’s like watching a bunch of apes on broomsticks. You’re really not missing anything. Harry,” Ginny added as an afterthought, “go on. I know you’re not going to study, so you’d better think really hard about what you’re going to do instead.”
Harry gave a small chortle as he gathered his things to leave the Great Hall. He would too study! He’d show her!
The sheet of paper in front of him was full of words. None of them meant anything to him. How did he let this happen? He had had almost nothing else to occupy his time but studying, and what had he done for a week and a half? He had read and reread the book Hermione had given him for his birthday, searching for clues. He has found none! And now here he was, in Potions staring at an exam with no idea how to answer the questions. He looked down the table at Hermione, frantically filling in answers and Ron, chewing on the end of his quill before writing an answer. And here he was. Harry slapped himself in the head. He could do this! He summoned up every bit of memory he had, and bent his head to try as best he could.
“I don’t want to know how I did,” Harry said as he collapsed in the common room after his, Ron’s, and Hermione’s last exam. Ginny had not returned yet from hers, and Harry could only be grateful that she wasn’t there to see him at the nadir of his academic career.
“Hey, you lot! How were your exams? Mine were cake!”
Harry groaned as Ginny’s voice, usually the most wonderful sound in the world drifted towards them.
“I think, for the first time in my life, I did better than Harry,” Ron said happily, “Cheers!”
“Oh, Harry, I’m sure it wasn’t all that bad,” Ginny said, moving behind Harry to massage his shoulders. Harry unwittingly began to loosen up as her hand worked miracles on his back.
“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” he said wearily.
“Oh, Ginny, stop that! You’re ruining this for me!” Ron said grumpily.
Hermione laughed, “Well, you did your best. That’s all that counts. I hardly had to badger you at all to study, Ron.”
“Well, I would imagine that his study sessions are a bit more fun this year than they have been before, Hermione,” Harry said with a cheeky grin.
“Harry! You know that when I’m studying I put all my effort into it!”
“Yeah, but when you’re helping Ron study, what does that effort go towards? Snogging is not a class in Hogwarts, Hermione, but I’m sure you studied well,” Harry retorted, laughing.
“Oh, come off it,” she grumbled.
Ron was looking just red enough for Harry to know that he was right on. He put his head down, enjoying the feel of Ginny’s touch, not wanting to think about what he would have to say now.
“You…you umm, sent the owls that you needed to send, Hermione? Ron?” Harry asked quietly. Ginny’s hands became stiff, and Harry reached back and pulled her to sit in his lap. She didn’t speak or respond. Just sat in his lap, stiff as a board.
“I did. We leave tonight, then?” Hermione asked quietly as celebrations and loud cheers at the end of exams raged behind them.
Harry thought, quite off topic though the thought was, that the celebrating would soon stop when students realized that they now had to return to regular classes on Monday. But he, Ron, and Hermione wouldn’t. They would be off that night. Without Ginny. The thought made his heart ache. But he was absolutely sure she was better off here. Safe.
The foursome grew quiet with the knowledge, and Ginny moved into Harry, as though wondering if she would ever have the chance to do so again. He kissed her temple, and wrapped his arms around her. Tonight he would leave the safety and unconditional love behind. Who knew what would lie ahead, but uncertainty.
A/N: So, that’s this chapter. Mostly transitional. Very little substance. The question remains, however. Start a new chapter, or start a new story? Your input on that and on this chapter would be greatly appreciated in the form of…A REVIEW! Review please!
IMPORTANT: I AM POSTING A STORY THAT I WROTE FOR THE HALLOWEEN CONTEST A FEW WEEKS AGO. IT IS CALLED “TEARS OF APOLOGY” AND IT HAS TO DEAL WITH HARRY FINDING SIRIUS’S JOURNAL ABOUT THE DAY THE POTTER’S DIED. PLEASE CHECK THAT OUT AS WELL. THANKS
A/N: Hey guys, I have decided to continue on in the same story. I think I would lose readers if my next summary read: This is the sequel to Life Goes On which is a sequel to The Wedding. People would just say, Screw it. You know? So, here it is. Life Goes On is here to stay!
“Goodbye Mr. Potter, Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley. I wish there were something I could do to stop you, but I suppose not…”
“Professor, you know we’d just sneak out and cause more trouble than it’s worth.”
“I know, Mr. Weasley. That is why I am escorting you out. Have everything you need? Ms. Granger, your parents are aware that you are on your way?”
“Very well…good luck, then.”
The three teens stood in a clearing halfway between Hogsmeade and Hogwarts as Professor McGonagall walked away leaving them with Professor Lupin. The two teachers had been made aware of the fact that they were leaving, no doubt, by Professor Dumbledore’s portrait. Lupin remained and surveyed the faces of his students and friends.
“You three had better be careful,” he began, “Do you have a plan at all?”
Looking from Ron’s deliberately blank expression, to Hermione’s worried one, to Harry’s preoccupied face, he sighed.
“I don’t really want to know, do I? Listen, send Hedwig to me at any time if you need me, do you understand? I’m going to be here at Hogwarts, so I’ll be easy to find. You three…I don’t even know what to say. You show the most determination of any seventeen year olds I have ever met. True, you’re also reckless, but hear this: you are all very talented and intelligent.”
Ron gave a derisive snort.
“No, Ron, even you. You can handle yourselves. Be safe, and be prepared.”
Hermione gave a small squeak and threw her arms around Lupin’s neck. He patted her back with a small laugh.
“You’re the best Defense against the Dark Arts teacher we’ve ever had,” Hermione said in a small voice.
“Good,” Lupin laughed, “Use what you’ve learned.”
Hermione pulled back, wiping her eyes. She moved into Ron’s arms and they began to move their trunks, still holding tight to one another. Lupin walked towards Harry, who had not spoken since they had left the castle.
“What is it, Harry?” Lupin asked softly.
Harry did not answer and Lupin gave a nod of understanding, “Ah. This wouldn’t have anything to do with a small redheaded girl, now would it?”
“She didn’t cry or beg me to take her with me. Nothing,” Harry said in a dumbfounded voice, “She didn’t do anything I thought she was going to do.”
Harry remembered the farewell that had occurred not a quarter of an hour ago. Ron and Hermione had started out of the portrait hole to meet Professor McGonagall in the entry hall as had been arranged. Harry stood with Ginny. She looked at him with a sad smile on her face, her eyes gleaming not with tears, but with pride.
“Harry, you are so predictable,” she said with a small laugh, “Off to save us all, aren’t you? And you don’t even really want anyone to know. You’re a hero Harry.”
Harry stared at this girl—no, woman—with awe. He took her into his arms and held tight.
“What did I do to deserve you?” he asked, speaking mostly to himself, but Ginny laughed into his chest.
“Well, you pined for me for five years without even realizing it, and, let’s see, you survived how many attacks on your life? I finally just decided that you’d worked hard enough, and I let you have me.”
“Ha ha,” Harry said sardonically, “Sure you did. Listen, Ginny, seriously. I want you to know that no matter what happen-”
Ginny cut him off, “You love me. I know, Harry. You don’t have to tell me. Just like I don’t have to tell you that I love you. It’s just there. We both know it.”
“Yeah,” said Harry, “but I do need to say it. I want you to know without a shadow of a doubt.”
“Oh, honestly, you overachiever. I know without you having to tell me. It’s in your eyes.”
“Ok, see you’ve lost me there. Is that a girl thing?”
Ginny laughed again, “Oh, Harry. You’re such a boy! Always need to state the obvious and don’t bother to understand anything of a sensitive nature.”
“You’re not going to tell me that I’m the most insensitive wort you’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting, are you?”
“No, that would be reserved for Hermione. Harry, let’s not make this any harder. Just kiss me goodbye, and come back to me.”
Harry smiled and obliged. He kissed her as if he’d never see her again. Who knew if he would? The thought brought on thoughts of a much darker nature, and all humor left him. This could be goodbye. For good. Who would take care of her if he never came back? Would she find someone else? If he died and Voldemort lived, would he come after Ginny? He broke away from Ginny, and looked down at the only person he’d ever loved this much, and wondered how on earth he was supposed to take those steps out of the empty common room.
“Harry, you should go. They’re waiting for you,” Ginny spoke softly. She was not crying and she did not show visible signs of being at all upset. Confused, but realizing that he did, indeed, need to go, he gave her one more kiss whispered, “Goodbye.” into her hair, held her close for a moment and turned to leave with a small wave. He turned back before he headed down the stairs to see the beautiful redhead whisper, “Not just yet, please,” to the Fat Lady, and she watched him, silhouetted in the light from behind her.
And so Harry did not have the energy to speak as they made their way to a point where they could Apparate. Lupin was staring at him with sympathetic eyes.
“Harry, you have found a remarkable woman. She reminds me quite a bit of your mother, actually. She wouldn’t ever do those things. She knows you, and she knows that you will protect her by whatever means that you see to be fitting. She is smart enough to know that crying and pleading will not change your mind. Ginny is proud of you, Harry.”
“I don’t understand how I managed to get her, Professor.”
Lupin laughed in an almost bittersweet manner, “Harry, you’re very much like your father in that way. Ginny is drawn to you. You may not even realize how well she knows you. She’s the one who’s not afraid to stand up to you and tell you when you’re being ridiculous, when you’re being too noble. Harry, she may have let you go quietly tonight, but I expect you haven’t heard the last from our fiery little Ms. Weasley.”
“Harry! Are you ready to go?” Hermione voice called to him from a place twenty feet away where they would be able to Apparate.
“I guess I should go,” Harry said.
Lupin nodded, and grasped Harry’s hand firmly in his, “Harry, remember that I am here. I am also to tell you that Molly wants to be kept involved in what’s going on. If you stop owling her at any point, it will be my fault. Well, you know how frightening that can be.”
Harry laughed, “Alright, Professor. Bye.”
He didn’t know what else to say. He had always trusted Lupin to give him advice, to teach him. Lupin had never let him down. How did he say goodbye?
“Oh, and Harry! I imagine you didn’t know, but Nymphadora and I are getting married next summer. Do try and stick around long enough to come.”
“Are you joking? So many weddings! Fred and Angelina, George and Brooke, and now you and Tonks! I may survive this, but I don’t know if I can do three more weddings!”
Lupin laughed, “Well, make it through this, Harry, and I think you may very well be strong enough to handle it. Although that many women with lace and tulle,” he gave a shudder, “good be quite frightening. Take care, Harry.”
Harry nodded and moved off to join Ron and Hermione.
“Everything all right, Harry?” Hermione asked anxiously.
“It will be,” Harry said, “Soon as we do this, and get it over with.”
“Hermione, I’ve just thought, what do your parents know? I mean, do they know about You-Know-Who?” Ron asked.
“Ron, they’re going to be more concerned with the fact that I’m bringing you home to meet them. I’m not sure how Dad will respond to having my boyfriend sleeping under my roof.”
“What?” Ron’s voice cracked.
“We’d better be off, then,” Hermione said quickly, “Meet you lot there. Remember the pictures I showed you. Picture it in your mind. Bye!”
And with a loud crack, she was gone.
“Bloody hell! She had to drop that on me now! AS if we didn’t have enough to worry over. You’re lucky, mate, my parents love you. You didn’t have to worry over this.”
“Better you than me,” Harry laughed, preparing to Apparate.
“Wait; don’t go until you’ve helped me figure out what to say. How to act. Harry! Harry, I don’t do well under pressure. Harry-”
“Bloody hell. They think this is a ruddy joke. Oh, this is going to be bad,” Ron murmured as he stood alone staring at the place where his best friend and his girlfriend had stood moments before.
“Oh, I’ll get them back for this. If I can manage to get through this weekend. Blimey, I can’t survive a weekend with my own mother. It can’t get much worse.”
With that, Ron Apparated, hoping that in his nervous state, he would arrive safely at Hermione’s house. Then he thought that perhaps if he ended up somewhere else, he may be better off. Either way, he’d have to meet her parents at some point.
A/N: Ok, it’s short, but it’s transitional. So, I saw GoF at midnight on Thursday, and OMG! It was amazing! I just thought you guys should know. I sobbed hysterically, not even joking. It was soooo good. That being said, please review this chapter. Love you guys!
A/N: Hey guys. I’m so sorry it took so long to update. I’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving, so it’s been hectic. For those non-Americans, Thanksgiving is a tradition where we Americans shirk our duties at work and school to sit down and gorge ourselves on too much food. This may sound like the sort of thing that Americans do all the time, but on Thanksgiving, we can excuse it. Anyhow, enjoy the chapter!
“Harry! Harry! Can you hear me?”
Harry came to slowly. Much to his shock, he found himself lying on the floor with his head in Hermione’s lap and a strange throbbing in his head and especially his nose. A woman with the same kind, brown eyes as the ones he was staring up at hovered nearby. A thin man with a very suspicious look on his face watched Harry with a glare from his place in the corner.
“Oh, thank goodness Harry!” Hermione exclaimed, brushing Harry’s hair off of his head.
“What happened?” he groaned, sitting up.
“Well, you Apparated here all right, but you walked straight into that wall there,” Hermione gestured at the brick wall behind him.
“Oh. Very graceful of me, wasn’t it?” he said wryly, rubbing his nose, “Where’s Ron?”
Just as he spoke, a loud CRACK reverberated through what appeared to be a living room, prim and clean with matching sofa, chairs, and coffee tables. Ron stood before the Grangers and Harry with his eyes tightly shut. He seemed reluctant to open them, and did not open his eyes until Hermione made an impatient cough sound in her throat, and Ron could no longer pretend that he was not in the presence of fellow human beings.
“Oh,” he said with a gulp, “So I’ve made it, have I?”
“Ron Weasley, you knew very well you had!” Hermione said in a disapproving tone.
She turned away from him as he walked toward her and she said pleasantly, “Mom, Dad, this is Ron Weasley-”
“So we’ve heard,” Mrs. Granger said with a smile, shaking Ron’s hand as he gulped again nervously.
“And this is Harry Potter.”
“Hello, Harry. Oh, we’ve heard so much about you boys!” Mrs. Granger seemed very pleased to be officially meeting her daughter’s best friends. Harry wondered to himself if Hermione had told her parents that she was dating Ron, or if she had waited until she got home to tell them.
“Dad,” Hermione implored, “you’ve heard about them as well…”
Mr. Granger moved toward the boys and shook Ron’s hand genially.
“Good to meet you! We have wondered. All these years, our Hermione speaks of little else than you boys. Good to meet you, I say!”
He turned to shake hands with Harry, but did it with a considerably less jovial air, still eyeing him with suspicion.
“N-nice to meet you, Mr. Granger,” Harry said, taken aback by the rather cold greeting. He looked at Hermione, who was frowning at her father.
“Well, I expect you all are tired. I don’t know whether or not popping in from one place to another makes you tired, but…it’s late, and you should get some rest. Want to be fresh tomorrow if we only—well, if there are only two days to spend together.”
Mrs. Granger’s kind voice wavered a bit as she, no doubt, contemplated her daughter leaving.
“Yeah, alright. Good idea, Mom,” Hermione said, still watching her father who was making Harry squirm under Mr. Granger’s gaze.
“If you all want to sit and talk, use the den,” Mr. Granger said, the jovial tone back as he looked at Ron and Hermione, but it turned dark again as he turned his eyes back to Harry, “but leave the door open.”
“Dad, what?” Hermione started to ask, but Harry shook his head.
“Great, thanks, Mr. Granger,” Harry said politely.
Harry helped Hermione and Mrs. Granger carry the luggage up the stairs as Mr. Granger chatted with Ron. Ron seemed less nervous now and was answering Mr. Granger’s questions happily.
“So, a family of witches and wizards? How fascinating! How do you do simple things, like flipping a light switch? Do you use your wands instead? Do you fly on magic carpets? What about brooms? Hermione’s answered theses questions for me before, but I’d be fascinated to hear what a wizard whose known nothing but magic his entire life thinks.”
Ron answered questions until they reached the den.
“So interesting,” Mr. Granger said, shaking his head as he made to leave the trio in the den, “So, Ron, yours and Harry’s room is just there. Hermione’s is across the way. And ours-” he looked significantly at Harry “-is right at the end of the hall.”
“Right, thanks MR. Granger. Goodnight, Mrs. Granger!” Ron smiled at the couple and moved into the den. Harry looked at the Grangers and then at Hermione. She looked as puzzled as Harry.
“Mom! Can I have a word?” Hermione called to her mother, “Go ahead inside, Harry. I’ll sort this out.”
Harry nodded and ducked into a comfortably decorated den with a table and chairs at one end and a large squishy sofa at the other with an armchair on one side.
“Nice folks,” Ron said, leaning back into the sofa, “Really nice. Mr. Granger’s like the muggle counterpart of my dad. Doesn’t seem to like you much, though does he, mate?”
“Yeah. You could try to sound less cheerful about it,” Harry said.
Ron chuckled, “Sorry, Harry, can’t do that. I thought for sure they’d hate me. Better me than you. After all, you’re just the best friend. I’m the boyfriend. They can only hate you for so long, but me…they can hate me forever. Besides, my parents love you, so Hermione’s parents have to hate you. It’s just in the rules. You can’t be loved by your girlfriend’s parents and your best friend’s parents.”
“But, you’re my best friend, and your parents are Ginny’s parents which mean they love me. So one of my best friend’s parents love me.”
“Harry,” Ron said, “could you maybe do me a small favor, and stop poking holes in my logic? I’d like to enjoy being the favorite here. Doesn’t happen often.”
Harry opened his mouth to retort when Hermione walked in with a smile on her face. She plopped herself down next to Ron on the couch, and laid her head on his shoulder. Turning up at him with a grin she said, “How would you feel if I told you that the only reason my father hates Harry is because he thinks I’m dating him?”
“WHAT?” Ron said loudly.
“SHHH!” Hermione put her hand over Ron’s mouth, “Shhh! Mom told me that she couldn’t remember whom I told her I was dating, so she took a stab at it and said Harry. She figured she’d just correct herself if she was wrong; I mean it was a fifty-fifty chance. Then when Harry got here, you missed this Ron, he managed to knock himself unconscious, and so I went to help him. My dad interpreted my attentions in the same way that Rita Skeeter did in our fourth year. And so, he thinks Harry and I are together.”
Harry laughed so hard that he almost fell out of the armchair he was sitting in.
“Bad luck, Ron.”
“But, then, if he finds out that I’m dating you, he’ll hate me?”
Ron’s face fell. Hermione chuckled, “Oh, Ron, he won’t hate you. He’ll just be…wary of you, that’s all.”
“Did you tell your mum to tell him, then? Does he already hate me?”
“No, Mom said she’d leave it up to me to tell him. Unless you want to do it…”
“Me? Do I? Do I want to tell your father that I’m dating his one and only daughter? It doesn’t appear that that would go well, Hermione? Do you want me to lose my head? Because he was looking at Harry tonight like he was going to chop Harry’s head off. That’s how he’s going to look at me, too!”
“Oh, you are soooo dramatic Ron!”
Harry heard the exasperated tone in her voice, and knew that if the topic was not changed, there would be fighting. And Harry really didn’t want to put up with bickering. Underneath the fatigue, brief entertainment at Ron’s expense, and feeling of general foreboding at what the three of them were planning to attempt, he missed Ginny. And hearing his two best friends fighting was not going to improve his disposition.
“Listen, Ron, don’t think about it just now, all right? Just…sleep on it. We have some details to discuss. About Saturday night.”
It was Thursday night, and they would be leaving on Saturday night for Godric’s Hollow. They also had no idea what they were looking for.
“Oh, Harry…this is a really important conversation. It’s just, I think we should wait until tomorrow to discuss it,” Hermione said.
“Why?” Harry said curiously.
“I’m too tired to formulate a plan now, and I’d just like to enjoy tonight and tomorrow without worrying about what will most likely be the most dangerous trip of our lives. You know?”
Harry nodded slowly. He knew he was not going to enjoy himself until this…mission was through and he could go home to Ginny.
“Oh, Harry, how insensitive of me!” Hermione said, “You left Ginny! And I haven’t even asked how you are!”
“I’m- I will be fine,” Harry said, “She didn’t cry or anything. She just wished me luck. Strange. She just let me go.”
“Oh, come on, Harry! Don’t you know my sister better than that?” Ron said with a smile as he held Hermione close to him, perhaps feeling sensitive to the fact that the woman he loved was with him and not miles away, “She won’t let you go quietly. You haven’t heard the end of it from her.”
“What do you-” Harry started to ask as Hermione yawned widely.
“Well, I’m so tired. I’m for bed. You two should get some sleep as well.”
Harry wanted to ask Ron what he thought Ginny would do, but decided that thinking about her was too painful right now. Perhaps later…
“Goodnight!” Hermione said, hugging Harry and giving Ron a small kiss.
“Night,” both boys said as they headed to a small room with two twin beds side by side.
“Can you believe that in about eight hours, her dad’s going to hate me just as much as he thinks he hates you? Blimey.”
With that, Ron rolled over and fell into a deep sleep. Harry turned in his bed, and flashes of Ginny flashed in front of his eyes. He hoped she was ok. She would be fine. Ron was wrong. She wouldn’t do anything stupid. With that thought, and mixed with some thoughts that made him extremely glad that Ron was not a Legilimens, drifted off to sleep.
A/N: Short…I know, I know. But, at any rate, please review! Oh how I crave and worship those reviews! Haha! So…review and see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Fantastic! I’ve seen it 4 times! And I must say that in the scene where Hermione is reading Rita Skeeter’s article (if you’re planning on going, watch for this) Hermione reads the words, “Hermione Granger, a plain but ambitious girl…” and Ron’s eyebrows go up in a most suggestive manner. Oh, how I love R/Hr! So, review!!!! PLEASE!
A/N: Hey guys…I’m updating greally quickly, but I’m not sure how long it will take the system to upload this chapter. And I’d like to lend some comfort to griffiesmom. You’ll be fine at your new job! And about the advice you gave me…fully aware of it. Just working it into the story. So, read on!
Harry had a bit of a lie-in the next morning, and when he woke up, the sun was high in the sky beaming into the small guestroom where he and Ron were sleeping. Sitting up and putting his glasses on, Harry glanced over at Ron. Ron was lying on his back with his eyes closed, but Harry could tell that Ron was not asleep. He thought he knew why.
“Ron, you know that you will have to go downstairs eventually, right?” Harry asked, suppressing a grin.
“What do you mean? I’m dead asleep,” came the reply.
Harry threw a pillow unceremoniously at Ron. This produced the result Harry was hoping for. Ron sat bolt upright, looking indignant.
“Come on, Harry! I don’t want to tell him!”
Harry laughed, “Gonna have to eventually, mate. You know Hermione’s not gonna be happy if you don’t.”
“I know, but I’ll just wait a day. I’ll tell him tomorrow, and maybe he’ll like me enough that he won’t kill me when he finds out. So, come on, Harry, don’t say anything. Please.”
Harry sighed, “You know I won’t.”
Ron smiled, “Thanks.”
The two dressed and prepared to go downstairs. They could hear Hermione talking pleasantly to her parents, and Harry had a sudden thought.
“Ron, what do you suppose Hermione’s told her parents about what we’re planning? I don’t want to give anything away if she hasn’t said anything to them.”
“I know what she’s told them.”
“Oh, what, then?” Harry hid his surprise. He was not used to Hermione confiding things in Ron and not sharing them with him as well. But that, he supposed, is what happened when people began dating. Not that it bothered him…it just made him realize that the dynamic had shifted slightly. This could actually be a positive thing. Ron and Hermione were united. They could help him now instead of being at odds. He smiled slightly. True, the two would always fight, but now there would not be the major fights that separated them for weeks at a time. This would be better.
“Harry, did you hear me?”
“I said that Hermione had told me that she only told her parents that we had some work outside of school to attend to. She told them it was part of the requirement to finish school at Hogwarts. She was really upset at having to lie to her parents. That’s why she told me.”
“Oh, well, of course she told you. You’re her boyfriend. If she can’t tell you when she feels horrible, who can she tell?”
“Right, I just wanted you to know that she would have told you too. I think she was ashamed.”
“No big deal,” Harry said, and he meant it. Hermione should be telling Ron these things, “Listen, I’m starving. Let’s go downstairs. Oh come on, Ron! It’s me he’s going to freeze out! Let’s go!”
Sure enough, despite the fact that Ron took the seat next to Hermione and Harry took one on the other side of Mrs. Granger, not to mention that Harry was sure Ron was holding Hermione’s hand under the table, Mr. Granger virtually ignored Harry. Mrs. Granger appeared amused as Mr. Granger went on and on about how much he had liked Mr. and Mrs. Weasley when they had met at the train station and at Diagon Alley years ago, but did not spare a glance for Harry. Harry would have been annoyed, but, instead, he entertained himself with the thought that Ron would have a very hard time once he decided to tell Mr. Granger the truth.
Mr. Granger excused himself after eating lunch, saying that he had a bit of work to get done, since he had taken the day off at the office. When he left, Mrs. Granger smiled and said,
“So, Harry. You’ve been a bit…well, ignored as of yet, haven’t you? I’m sorry about that.”
“That’s all right, Mrs. Granger, I don’t mind.”
Across the table, Ron was looking guilty, and Hermione was looking apologetic.
The four of them sat pleasantly around the table for a good three hours or so, explaining such intricacies of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Transfiguration, recalling the basics of Divination, and listing some creatures they’d learned about it Care of Magical Creatures. Mrs. Granger seemed wildly entertained, and Harry marveled that, although he and Ron had not woken until noon, it was already four o’clock! Mrs. Granger seemed to realize it as well, and jumped up saying,
“Oh, I should start dinner! I’m preparing a meal for more than two tonight! This is so unusual! Run along upstairs, you three, dinner should be ready in about an hour.”
Harry moved up the stairs, dodging Ron’s shoes, which Ron had left haphazardly at the landing last night and had forgotten to move. Harry wasn’t sure if they were headed into the den or one of the bedrooms. He had assumed that Mr. Granger would have been working in the den, but the door was open, and the light was off. It was dark inside the den, except for the patch of light coming in from the hallway that created a doorway-shape amid the dark shadows. He turned to wait at the top of the stairs to ask Hermione. She was marching up the stairs followed by Ron. Harry thought that Ron was probably in for it. He had not told Mr. Granger, and Hermione did not look happy. Ron looked sulky as well, slumping up the stairs. Hermione tripped at the top of the stairs over Ron’s shoes. Ron instantly put out his arms to catch her, should she fall backward, but she recovered her footing and, waiting until Ron reached the landing as well, shook his shoes in his face.
“Ron Weasley! You can’t even manage to put your shoes away! Honestly, you are impossible!” Hermione said angrily.
“Can we move into the den to do this?” Ron said.
They started into the den, but Ron and Hermione got no farther than that patch of light framed from the doorway before Hermione rounded on Ron again. Harry remained in the hallways. Best not to interfere, and walking through the two would most definitely be considered interference.
“My God, Ron! You’re obviously too ashamed to tell my father that we’re dating!”
“Oh, come off it, Hermione. You know that’s not true!”
“Sure it’s not! What am I supposed to think when you continue to let him think I’m dating Harry? Is that what you want? Would you rather I date Harry? I don’t think Ginny would be too pleased!”
“Umm, guys, fight as much as you want, really, just…can you leave me out of it?” Harry questioned, but as he had imagined would be the case, he was ignored.
“Yes, Hermione. That’s exactly what I want,” Ron said sarcastically, “I want you to leave me and date my sister’s boyfriend and my best friend. That’s obviously what your dad already thinks, so why not?”
“Oh, you are ridiculous!”
“I’m ridiculous? You’re the one standing there bringing Harry into an argument he really doesn’t want to be a part of.”
“I don’t hear him objecting!”
“Then get your ears checked! He’s just asked to be left out of this!”
“Oh, really! Did you say that, Harry?” Hermione rounded on him.
Harry sighed, resigned, “Yeah, I did. You know you love each other, so just, keep me out of it.”
Hermione turned back to Ron, still incensed, “Right, well, that doesn’t change the fact that you carelessly left your shoes lying about!”
“Get out of it, Hermione! They’re shoes!”
Harry thought Ron was quite right that Hermione was being a bit ridiculous about the shoes, but Hermione pressed on. She clearly had no other tack to take.
“Ron did it even occur to you that if I had not gotten my balance back, I could have fallen down the stairs and broken my neck?”
“Hermione, you cannot be serious!” Ron seemed even angrier now, as if he could not fathom how Hermione could be yelling at him about shoes. Harry was right with him, and he wondered if this is how Hermione would be to live with. She had never acted like this in all the summers he’d spent with her at the Burrow, and she and Ron seemed to have co-habitated fairly well at Grimmauld Place. Ron continued, yelling now.
“Hermione, you had to know, you had to trust that if you had fallen, I would have caught you! I’ll always catch you, Hermione!” he said all of this very angrily, and Harry, who had been watching the row like the tennis matches that Uncle Vernon sometimes watched and mocked—perhaps because the players were all thin and fit. He had now turned to see Hermione’s response, but she seemed to have deflated. Her face was no longer filled with anger, but with a small smile and tears.
“What’re you crying for?” Ron asked, still angry and flabbergasted.
Hermione rushed at him, threw herself into his arms and kissed him. Ron did what any man would do when faced with this situation. He put his arms around her and kissed her back, though he was still visibly confused. When the kiss had gone on long enough to make Harry truly uncomfortable, he cleared his throat. Hermione pulled back and said,
“That was sweet, Ron. I know you’re just nervous, but try to tell Dad sometime before we leave, ok? Now, I have a letter to send, so I’ll be right back. You two go in there.”
She bounced off to her room leaving Ron to stand in the doorway with a very puzzled expression.
“Is that fight over?” Ron wondered aloud.
“You dodged a bullet, there, son,” came a voice from within the dark den. Ron’s face went pale and Harry smothered a laugh as Mr. Granger flipped the light on next to the couch where he had clearly been napping after having read through the important looking documents on the floor next to the sofa.
“H-Hi, Mr. Granger,” Harry said, moving past Ron into the den to sit in the chair. He was trying really hard not to laugh. It was taking a toll on him.
Ron looked like he was about to pass out as Mr. Granger looked at him with an unreadable expression. Harry thought it was tough luck that Ron had not only been caught in his lie, but he had also been caught snogging Hermione in front of her father.
“It’s like that with you two, then?” Mr. Granger said, but did not seem to require an answer as he continued, “Listen, it doesn’t matter if you live in the Muggle world or the Wizarding world. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you’re going. If you’ve seen the world, you’ve seen this, and-”
But Ron seemed to get his voice back and he cut across Mr. Granger, as if attempting to stop the telling off he was about to receive, “Mr. Granger, please…you don’t understand. It’s not like…me and Hermione, I mean we…”
“Ron,” said Mr. Granger said firmly, “listen to me.”
“Love looks the same in any world. And I can see it between you and my daughter. I don’t know how pleased I am that my daughter’s in love already. She’s only eighteen. But, all in all, I’m glad it’s you, Ron. You’re a good lad.”
Ron relaxed visibly, color coming back to his face.
“But, avoid kissing her like that in my house,” he said with authority.
“She-I mean, Hermione-I wasn’t planning…”
“Calm down, Ron, I know that wasn’t you. I’ll be having a talk with her and all. And Harry, I owe you an apology. I saw love between you and Hermione, just not the kind of love I wanted for her, you see? So, I was going to try as hard as I could to drive you two apart. But you have a girlfriend, I hear?’
Harry smiled, “Yeah, Ron’s sister.”
Mr. Granger laughed, “Fun for you, is that, Ron?”
Ron shrugged, “Better Harry than anyone else.”
“Too true, too true. But you’ve all known each other for, what is it now, seven years? I guess, after knowing each other that long, you know where you stand.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said, glad that he was no longer being ignored, “I love Hermione very much, like the sister I never had. And obviously, Ginny is Ron’s sister. Ron is on love with Hermione, so we all watch out for each other.”
The men talked for a time. Before long, Hermione moved into the doorway. She watched as Harry and Mr. Granger laughed over the complexities of Muggle videogames—Ron seemed very intrigued, “You mean, they can control what’s going on inside a box with a little thing made of plastric?”—and walked into the room.
“So, told him, have you?” Hermione asked.
“Oh, no. Didn’t have to. He saw the fight we had a while back. You remember how that fight got resolved right?” Ron said with a smile. He knew very well that he was in the clear on that kiss, but Hermione paled.
“Oh,” she said very quietly, “Umm,” she added hurriedly, “Mom said to tell you lot that dinner’s ready.”
“We’ll be talking later, young lady,” Mr. Granger said, winking at Harry and Ron where Hermione couldn’t see him.
Hermione nodded as her father walked from the room. Ron moved toward her with a question in his eyes.
“So, are we ok, then?” Ron asked.
“Oh, yes, of course. I was just angry that you hadn’t told Dad yet. Though I guess that’s not a problem right now.”
She walked down the stairs, followed by Ron and Harry. They could tell she was very concerned. The trio walked into the brightly lit kitchen. Harry looked at the table and saw that it was set for six.
“Who else is eating with us?” Harry asked.
“Oh, about that, umm,” Hermione said nervously. Just then, there was a knock on the back door, leading right into the kitchen. Before he could see who was there, Hermione was answering it, blocking whoever was there from view. As she opened the door, a familiar flowery scent moved into the kitchen.
A/N: Haha! I know that you all know who’s at the door…Tune in to the next installment to find out what Harry’s gonna do about it! Ok, please, please, please review!!!!!!!!
A/N: Hi! Most of you figured out who the visitor is. Those of you who didn’t, don’t feel bad. Not everyone is as barking mad as I am and have not gone through HBP with a fine-toothed comb. So…onto Chapter Eighteen. Wow! Can’t believe you guys are still with me after thirteen chapters of The Wedding and now Eighteen Chapters of Life Goes On. You guys really are unique individuals. I love you! In all seriousness. This is all that keeps me anchored sometimes, and I greatly appreciate every review and e-mail I receive. Emotional stuff aside, read on!
“Ginny,” Harry breathed.
“Huh?” Ron said, craning his neck to see past Hermione, “How can you tell?”
Harry could not think clearly enough to tell Ron that he could smell Ginny. Even if he had been thinking clearly, he probably would not have told Ron that he could smell hi s best friend’s sister. It would sound a bit creepy. Instead, Harry ignored Ron. He was fighting two polar reactions. He wanted to run to her and hold her forever. But he also wanted to shove her back out the door and personally take her to a cell where she would be imprisoned until Harry could come back for her himself. He knew that short of chaining her to a wall with no wand, she would follow. He had known she would. And yet, he had pretended to believe that when she had so calmly said goodbye that was really it.
“Right,” Harry snorted. He moved past a confused Ron and into the entry hall. Hermione turned to him, still locking Ginny from view with her body.
“Now, Harry,” she said nervously, “Don’t get upset.”
“Hermione,” came a voice from behind her, “You don’t have to run interference. I can handle it.”
Hermione looked at Harry with a certain amount of anxiety, but she nodded and moved away to reveal the small, redheaded form of Ginny Weasley. Harry sighed and gave in to his first instinct. He reached out and pulled her to him. Holding Ginny tightly, he smelled the same flowery scent in her hair. He would need explanations, and he would try to reason with the stubborn girl that he loved, but right now, he only wanted to hold her.
“Harry, I-” Ginny began in a firm voice.
“Shhh, we’ll talk about it later,” Harry said, pulling back and holding Ginny by the shoulders, “And we will have a serious talk, Ginny. You can’t be here-No,” he stopped himself and Ginny as she opened her mouth, “We’ll do this later. Right now, let’s just have dinner.”
And he pulled her to him for a kiss. He really didn’t care that Hermione and her mother were sighing wistfully in the kitchen as they watched or that Mr. Granger was chuckling under his breath from the table or that Ron was scratching his head, looking in the opposite direction with a determined air of distraction.
Harry took Ginny into the kitchen, her small, warm hand in his. He gave Hermione a look and whispered, “You knew about this?”
Hermione was no longer nervous, she smiled smugly and said, “I did, yes.”
Harry glared, and Hermione proceeded to take Ginny’s other hand and lead her away from Harry to introduce Ginny to her parents.
“Harry, what are we going to do?” Ron asked, “Ginny can’t come with us.”
“Yeah,” Harry sighed, “But you’ve said it yourself, she won’t really take that information well.”
“I know. She’s a lot like Mum,” Ron said, “But we’ll just have to get through to her. I’m sure Mum doesn’t know she’s here. Or if she does, she doesn’t like it.”
“We’ll figure it all out after dinner. There’s no way she’s coming with us. She can’t even Apparate,” Harry said, warming up to his argument, “Yeah, it wouldn’t be practical. She’s not of age.”
Harry heard a chuckle from behind his back, which he had turned to the Grangers and Ginny so that he and Ron could talk. He whipped around to find Mr. Granger laughing at him and Ron.
“Ah, so young, you two are,” he said through his laughter, “You see, women don’t often take ‘no’ for an answer if it’s not what they want to hear. And that one,” he nodded towards Ginny, “is probably worse than our Hermione, if that’s possible. There’s a set to her jaw that says she’s not gonna hear anything she doesn’t want to hear. But you’ll have to learn that for yourself. Anyway, we’re about to eat.”
Harry and Ron looked at one another as Mr. Granger walked to the table.
“No,” Ron said, “We’ll figure a way to make her stay.”
Harry nodded, “Let’s not bring it up at dinner, though.”
“Right,” Ron said, and he and Harry took seats at the table.
Harry sat next to Ginny across from Hermione and Ron. They spoke only of simple things, such as how the Weasleys were doing, the difficult task of the inevitable weddings coming up, and what the group would like to do in the future. That discussion was a bit depressing to Harry, who thought that perhaps he might not ever be able to achieve his dream of becoming an Auror. He felt the tension around the table as well. He knew none of them were certain of the future at all. After dinner, they thanked the Grangers for the meal and headed to the den. Ron and Harry shared a look that said clearly, “Ginny will have a future.”
Harry collapsed into the chair, Ron and Hermione snuggled up on the sofa and Ginny sat down on the arm of Harry’s chair.
“Is there a point in telling you not to start this argument?” Ginny was the first to speak.
“No,” Harry said, “but first, how about you tell us how you came to be here? Hermione can probably help fill in the blanks. You knew all along, then?”
“Leave her out of it,” Ginny said calmly, “I would have come anyway. You know that.”
“I knew, but I tried to believe that you would stay put,” Harry said.
“It’s amazing what you start to believe if you tell yourself often enough that it’s true. Well, I suppose it would interest you to know that in addition to bringing myself here, I also come bearing information. Here’s what happened. I was walking through the hall one day and Cormac McLaggen—who was there to retake the exams, and hadn’t left yet—was bothering me about where Hermione was. Then he started in on Ron, and I jut got so annoyed that somehow, I don’t really know why, he got hit with a particularly bad Bat-Bogey hex. For some reason, Professor McGonagall called me to her office for it.”
“Yeah, because those hexes aren’t your signature or anything. You must have been so offended, being innocent and all,” Ron said sarcastically.
Ginny ignored him and continued, “I got to the office, and McGonagall wasn’t there, but Dumbledore was awake in his portrait and he took one look at me and sighed.
‘Ah,’ he said, ‘Harry has left you behind. He has not learned. You plan to follow him, don’t you Ms. Weasley?’ And, of course, I was, so I said so. And he nodded saying,
‘I had thought he might make this error. Ms. Weasley, it is imperative that you join Harry. He will need you now more than ever.’
And I told him, ‘I know that. It’s Harry who hasn’t figured it out just yet.’
And he laughed saying, ‘Our minds tend to cloud logic when the people we love are in danger. Ms. Weasley, I can no longer tell you what to do, or how to go about things, but know this: everything Harry needs to find the locket is in the letter. He’ll know what that means.’
Then McGonagall came in and looked at Dumbledore and then looked at me and said, ‘Honestly, Albus, I am going to have no one left at this school if you keep sending them off to join Mr. Potter.’
Dumbledore laughed and said, ‘Minerva, I do not wish to rid this school of students. I am only attempting to put people where they belong. Ms. Weasley belongs with Harry, and so she already knew.’
‘Professor,’ I told her, ‘It isn’t Professor Dumbledore’s doing; I was planning on joining Harry at any rate.’
McGonagall sighed and looked me in the eye saying, ‘I suppose there is no way to talk you out of this, Ms. Weasley? No, I didn’t think so. What about Molly? Have you written to your mother? Of course not, you’d want to wait until just before you leave so that she would not be able to object, wouldn’t you?’
I swear, she wouldn’t let me get a word in! Before I knew it, she was writing to Mum, saying that on Dumbledore’s advice I was off to join you lot. Then she practically shoved me out the door and Dumbledore told me just as I was leaving,
‘Do remember to stop and see Hagrid before you leave Ms. Weasley.’ This seemed odd to me, but I said that I would, and—given no other choice—I went to pack. I was already nearly done as I’d planned to take the Knight Bus and find you tomorrow. After I’d packed, I sent an owl to Hermione telling her everything that had happened. I couldn’t wait for a return owl to go to see Hagrid. I thought that I’d say my goodbyes and then I’d see if Hermione had written me back. So I went down there. I knocked on Hagrid’s door, he took one look at me and said,
‘Off on an adventure are ye? I s’pose ye’ll be joinin’ Harry, will ye? I gotta say, I’m right upset those three didn’t come round an’ say ‘bye. Not so much as a ‘See ye soon’. Right disappointin’! Ye tell ‘em when you get there will ye? Come with me.’
Clearly no one wanted to hear me speak, so I followed Hagrid without talking. We got to the edge of the forest, and Hagrid pulled a disgusting bleeding ferret carcass out of a bag he was holding. I told him that that was the most revolting thing I had ever seen, and he just laughed and pulled out three more.
‘Wot’s revoltin’ to ye, is a feast to them,’ he said. And I asked what he was talking about. He pointed and there were four thestrals at the edge of the forest. I asked him what they were there for, and he said they were for us. He told me that I was to whisper in the ear of the three I wasn’t riding where we were headed, and they would be here when I arrived. He told me to go up and get my things, that he’d wait with the fourth thestral. So I got my trunk and I came straight back down. It was getting dark at that point, but the owl I’d sent to Hermione’s had come back. She’d said that, of course I could come, she gave me the address because she thought I’d be taking the Knight Bus, and so I was ready to go. As I was leaving, Hagrid gave me a bone-crunching hug and said that these thestrals could find any location in the world, that it was a sight easier than Apparating and—for me, flying or taking the Knight Bus—so, I left. Hagrid’s pretty angry with you lot for not saying goodbye.”
Ginny finished her tale, and Harry looked at Ron and Hermione, who were obviously trying to take in all that Ginny had said, and looked guilty for not having said goodbye to Hagrid. Harry stood up from his chair, and walked to the window.
“Yeah,” Harry said suddenly, “There are thestrals down there. No use in you two getting up,” he said to Ron and Hermione, “You can’t see them.”
“I can’t believe we forgot to say goodbye to Hagrid!” Hermione looked distraught.
“We’ll see him again,” Harry said with a confidence he didn’t feel.
“This trail is bound to lead back to Hogwarts at some point,” Ginny said, “I can feel it.”
“Right, well, Ginny, I know you have transportation and all, but surely your mother’s not going to be thrilled with you coming with us,” Harry said.
“Yeah, Ginny,” Ron said, “You’re not going, and that’s that.”
“Honestly, Ron, you’re not my keeper. You have no say!” Ginny said, flaring up for what Harry recognized as a really good fight.
“Ginny, Ron’s just looking out for you,” Harry started.
“He should look out for himself,” Ginny raged.
“And I’m looking out for you too,” Harry continued as though Ginny had not spoken, “It isn’t safe. You should stay at Hogwarts.”
“Surely you’re not arguing that I am less capable than you lot,” Ginny said, “Well, maybe less than you and Hermione, but c’mon!”
“Hey!” Ron said, picking up on the insult.
“Ginny, that’s not what I’m saying. I just want to know you’re safe. I can’t be looking after you when I’m fighting Voldemort.”
“Oh, but meanwhile, the other fear—completely unfounded, by the way—is that Voldemort will kill me to get to you; use me as bait. But, wait, he’s already done that. So, what’re going to do Harry? At Hogwarts, he could get to me. He has before. And with you, I’d be a distraction. While in any other light, being a distraction to you would possibly have been flattering, but right now is not working to my advantage. Either way, Harry, you have a problem. Because either way, I’m left open to danger. Either way, I could get hurt. For that matter, I could walk out in the street and get hit by the Knight Bus, so if we want to weigh it that way. My point is that your argument is rubbish. My safety’s on the line in any situation. Next argument, please,” Ginny said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“I, well, you just can’t…Ginny, I don’t want you” Harry floundered. Her safety was his last defense. Her not being of age was not going to be a problem and now that they could all use magic outside of school, that wasn’t an issue. She was right, she was in danger wherever she went, so it was not a good point to argue.
“But you’re my little sister!” Ron said angrily, “There’s an argument for you. I should have a say in this!”
“Ron, I have been more mature than you since I was six. Please tell me you have something better than the ‘Big Brother’ card to play.”
“You’re a girl!” he blurted out, and winced, as though immediately realizing his mistake. Hermione took one look at Ginny and said,
“OH, yes, Ron. Very good. Now what, pray tell, would you call me, then?” Hermione said in angry tones.
“That’s not what I meant, I only wanted to…never mind,” Ron slumped down in his seat, clearly regretting that he had said anything at all.
“Harry, it boils down to this,” Ginny said quietly, coming up behind Harry, who was turned back towards the window.
She put her arms around his waist and laid her head on his back.
“I love you, Harry. If I was in this situation, if I needed to go on this…mission, what would you do if I told you to stay put?”
“I’d follow you. I wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Harry sighed, resigned.
“Actually, I think you might take it upon yourself to do it for me,” Ginny chuckled, “But Harry, I know this is something you have to do. I’m only asking you to let me help you. Please realize that I’m here. You see me, Harry, but you don’t really see me. I’m here for you.”
Harry turned around, Ginny’s arms still around his waist. He looked down at her, really looked, and he kissed her.
“I know. I’m sorry I never realized it before. I would grant you permission to come with us, but I know you don’t need it. You’d come with us no matter what I said.”
“Oh, he learns fast,” Ginny smiled.
“Now, what is this,” Harry said, moving back to the chair and putting Ginny in his lap, “about a letter?”
A/N: Ok, moving right along. I hope you liked the chapter. Please read and review! Please! And, just a reminder, cuz I haven’t reminded you in a while. E-mail me anytime. My e-mail address is: email@example.com. I also have an address at DayDreamingMuggle@mugglenet.com. E-mail me at either address, I check regularly. And with that, I beg you…Please review!
A/N: Hello to all. So sorry it took so long to update. It’s just that…well, never mind, I’ll add it to the author’s note at the bottom. For now, just read on. But I would like to thank all of those who have helped me so much throughout this entire process! My reviewers. I love you guys.
“You don’t know what letter he was talking about?” Ginny turned her head so that she could she Harry’s face.
“No, should I?” Harry said puzzled.
“Well, he made it sound as though you should know. I mean, he didn’t tell me,” Ginny said, looking concerned.
“Oh, Harry, please!” Hermione said in a familiar exasperated tone, “The letter, the note you found inside the locket!”
“Oh, of course,” Harry murmured, abashed.
“Yes, of course,” Hermione said, “Honestly, Harry! Where is that letter? We haven’t looked at it since the end of last term.”
“We had other things to worry about, though, didn’t we?” Ron threw in. He slid his hand into Hermione’s seemingly to test the waters. She was very possibly still angry about Ron’ outburst earlier. But, she grasped his hand in hers—though without looking at him—and continued to look expectantly at Harry.
Harry sighed, and shifted Ginny to the arm of the chair as he delved into his pocket. From within his jeans came the locket and the crumpled paper, looking the worse for wear.
Ginny took the paper from him, “Alright, Dumbledore made it sound as though we should know the person who signed this.”
“But I looked all over the library!” Hermione exclaimed, “I’m sure I was thorough.”
“Sometimes, Hermione, no matter how hard you look it takes a while to see what’s right in front of your face,” Ron said.
“Yeah,” Harry said, “Just look at you two.”
“I think that was his point, Harry,” Ginny giggled, “Now, let me just read this.”
And she read it aloud.
To the Dark Lord
I know I will be long dead before you read this but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more.
“So, do you think Dumbledore believes that this Horcrux still needs to be destroyed? I mean, he’s sure that this R.A.B person didn’t get rid of it?” Harry asked.
“Doesn’t sound like it, does it?” Ginny said, “It sounded as though he thought we should know who ‘R.A.B’ is. Do we?”
“If it’s someone we know, we’ll recognize the last name, won’t we. So, let’s go through all the last names we know that begin with a ‘B’.”
“Bones,” offered Ginny.
“Yes, but Amelia Bones just died last year, so it can’t have been her,” Hermione said thoughtfully.
There was silence in the room as all four considered everything they knew.
“Binns,” said Ron excitedly, “Professor Binns has been dead for years! It could be him.”
“Oh, Ron, really,” Ginny said, “Professor Binns doesn’t even realize he’s dead, I don’t think he even knows he has students half the time. I sincerely doubt that he went hunting for Voldemort’s Horcrux.”
Ron shuddered as Ginny said his name.
“You really should get used to that,” Hermione said, “You’re probably going to come face to face with him sooner or later, and wouldn’t it be embarrassing if he just said his name and you passed out.”
“Yeah, like we’re going to stand around and introduce ourselves,” Ron muttered, but he remained silent after that.
Harry who had been sitting thoughtfully and silently through this murmured under his breath.
“What was that, Harry?” Ginny asked.
“How could we be so stupid? Black!”
“Harry, Sirius couldn’t have…” Hermione started, “I mean, his initials aren’t R and A. And he would have told us.”
“No,” Harry said impatiently, “Not Sirius. His brother, Regulus.”
“But wasn’t his brother a Death Eater?” Ron asked.
“Yeah, he was. And he was killed for chickening out! That’s what Sirius told me,” Harry was beginning to get excited now.
“But, Harry, just because Regulus ‘chickened out’ doesn’t mean that he committed some sort of treason against Voldemort,” Hermione said.
“It would make sense, though! IT sounds as though Voldemort doesn’t even know his Horcrux has been destroyed. What if Regulus destroyed it and then, I don’t know, quit. Then he was killed. It makes sense!”
“It does, Harry,” said Ginny tentatively, “but don’t you think that Sirius would have known where Regulus hid the Horcrux if he hadn’t destroyed it?”
“Not if Sirius wasn’t there at the time,” Harry said.
“Harry! I’ve just thought of something!” Ron said, “Sirius hadn’t been back to Grimmauld Place for years before the Order used it as headquarters. That could mean it was there while we were, the Horcrux, I mean.”
“Think hard,” Harry said, “We cleaned that place from top to bottom. Do any of you remember coming across a locket. We wouldn’t have given it a second thought if it had a Slytherin crest on it because the whole lot of the Blacks had been in Slytherin except for Sirius.”
“Harry, I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves,” Hermione said cautiously, “If we agree that Regulus Black is indeed ‘R.A.B’ then why would he hide the locket in his own house. Wouldn’t that be a bit obvious?”
“Hermione, if Voldemort doesn’t know it’s missing, who’d be looking for it?” Ron asked.
“The letter says ‘I know I will be long dead before you read this...’, but that still sounds as though Regulus expected Voldemort to find it eventually. That would mean that he would be searching for the lost Horcrux, and wouldn’t Grimmauld Place be the first place Voldemort looked?”
“Doesn’t sound as though this Regulus fellow was as clever as Sirius, though does it?” Ron said, “If he got into this whole Death Eater gig in the first place. Maybe he didn’t have time to hide in anywhere else.”
“I think Regulus is our best bet,” Ginny said, “And I think the best placed to start would be Grimmauld Place.”
“Yeah, I agree,” Harry said as Ron nodded his assent as well.
“Well,” Hermione hemmed, “I suppose that if we have no where else to begin, Grimmauld Place would be the best starting point.”
“Great,” Harry said, “Now, I know it was a really long time ago, but try to remember if you ever came across a locket that looks like this,” Harry held up the phony Horcrux, “but with a Slytherin crest on it.”
“Hermione can probably remember every lecture she’s had in every single class since first year,” Ron said, “So, she’ll remember.”
Hermione looked flattered, although Ron’s tone had been sarcastic.
“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be scraping your memory,” Hermione told him with a squeeze of his hand.
After a quarter of an hour of silence, Ginny said, “Maybe we should use the Pensieve.”
“What for?” Ron said, “Hermione’s got a moving slide show going in her head, or something. Give her a few more minutes, and she’ll have remembered everything that we did that summer.”
Predictably, the three heard a gasp a few moments later from Hermione.
“It was there! Remember, we were cleaning the house and we found a locket that we couldn’t break! That was it. We didn’t pay it any mind because we were more concerned with the Order and with waiting for your next outburst, Harry.”
Harry looked ashamed, “Yeah, I was in a right state that year wasn’t I? Sorry about that.”
“Not the issue now, Harry,” Hermione said, “The Horcrux was there! Under the same roof as us for an entire summer and we never knew!”
“So, we didn’t get rid of it,” Harry said, suddenly recalling the locket, “I remember because we had to run and help Ron because some old, purple robes were trying to strangle him.”
“Well, the house belongs to you now, Harry, so we can go anytime,” Ginny said, “I mean, I know you want to go to Godric’s Hollow first. TO se your parent’s graves.”
“Yeah,” Harry nodded, “I do. But straight after that, we’ll be off to Grimmauld Place. I haven’t found anything yet to search for in Godric’s Hollow, so we might as well go to Grimmauld Place. At least we’ll be doing something.”
Hermione gasped suddenly.
“What is it?” Ron asked.
“What?” all three of the others asked.
“Mundungus! Harry, remember last year? He stole all of that stuff!”
“Oh no!” Harry said.
“What?” Ginny asked, “Mundungus has been stealing Harry’s stuff?”
“Yeah, he looted Grimmauld Place last year,” Ron explained, “But maybe he didn’t get the locket.”
“I hope not,” Harry said menacingly, for his sake.
“Listen, Harry, if we get there and we can’t find the locket, we’ll track Mundungus down, all right?” Ginny said consolingly.
“I think we should get to bed,” Hermione said suddenly, “We have a lot of things to do before we go, and we’re going to need our strength.”
The four stood up and walked into the hallway. Before they split to go into their respective rooms, Ginny kissed Harry goodnight.
“Thanks for deciding to let me come,” she smiled.
“Yeah, because I really had a choice,” Harry said.
“Harry, you had to learn what I had to learn,” Ron said, holding onto Hermione, “When you find yourself pathetically in love with a girl who has too much brains for her own good,”
“Hey!” interjected Hermione. Ron ignored her and continued.
“They will find a way to do the very things you’re scared for them to do. You just have to accept that they’re strong enough. Truth be told, these two are probably stronger than us,” Ron said wisely.
“So does this mean you’re all right with me going as well then?” Ginny asked Ron.
“No!” Ron said, “You’re still my little sister, and no matte how tough my little sister may be, she should still be locked up in a tower somewhere, guarded by a dragon, away from any type of danger.”
“What if the tower collapses?” Ginny asked with a smile, “Built on a horrible foundation, you know.”
“Or,” Hermione jumped in with a laugh, “the dragon guarding the tower suddenly decides that it’s hungry and breaks the tower down to eat Ginny.”
“Or,” Ginny added, “I could suffer from some horrible disease, and no one would ever know.”
“Or,” Hermione began, but Ron cut her off.
“Very funny, you two,” he said, “I get the point.”
“Well, goodnight,” Harry said, kissing Ginny again. A
After Ron and Hermione had said their goodnights as well, the girls headed to their room, but Hermione called back to them.
“So, it starts tomorrow, doesn’t it?” she said with a sad sort of smile.
“What does?” Ron asked.
“The part of our lives that completely alienates us from childhood.”
“Yeah, I reckon so,” Ron said gravely.
“You three don’t have to go through it, you know?” Harry said, though he remembered what Hermione had said at the end of the last year, and knew she was going to repeat it.
“Honestly Harry! How many times do I have to bring this up?” she asked, and then got very quiet, “You told us once—well, more than once now—that there was time if we wanted to go back. We have had so much time, Harry. Nearly seven years, to be exact. We’re with you.”
“We’ll always be with you, mate,” Ron said, clapping a hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“I think I’ve proven more than once that I’m pretty hard to shake, Potter,” Ginny smiled, “So I’d like to see you try it again.”
“Right, well,” Harry was, again, at a loss for word, “Thanks.”
“Tomorrow, then,” Hermione said, bidding them goodnight once more.
Harry got into bed thinking that he was possibly the luckiest person alive. With three people he loved so much sticking by him even in the worst of times. And they would get worse, but, no matter how bad, he would have them with him. Always.
A/N: Ok, so what did you think? Here’s the thing, I think I’ve lost you guys somewhere along the way. SO, this may be the last chapter of Life Goes ON…not for sure, but I’m thinking so. But whether or not I’m done with Life Goes On, there will be more fics. I’m thinking I might write something else, though I’m not sure what. I may even pick Life Goes On up again, but I’m just not sure. So, I love you guys and if this is it, I want you all to know how much your words have meant to me. I love you guys, and please bestow the loving reviews you always have in this—possibly—last chapter.
A/N: Who the hell was I kidding? I haven’t been able to sleep since I “completed” this story. That should have told me something. And then I read the wonderful works of a woman named Lindsay, and she inspired me to continue. It’s to her that I owe thanks and gratitude. And to Macca for always being there for me. So, I hope you guys don’t hate me too much for that scare. I swear it was not a bid for reviews! If you’re gracious and forgiving enough, please read on.
Moist leaves on soft summer grass make no sound. This was an odd thought to have, Harry Potter decided as he walked through a graveyard. Funny how this moment should be filled with thoughts of his parents. Ginny should not be firmly holding his hand and, though he had always pictured this scene with Ron and Hermione there, they were not supposed to be visibly upset.
Harry stopped in the middle of two beautifully carved pieces of marble. How could things that symbolize so much pain be made so beautifully? And why was it that all Harry could think of was the fact that it was drizzling and sunny? There should not be a rainbow in sight as he visited his parents’ graves for the first time.
This morning, he had been fine. Hermione had hugged her parents goodbye. They had no idea that it may well be the last time they saw their daughter. Hermione managed to stay cheerful until she had broken down attempting to find the thestral’s back to climb on. Frustrated and upset, she had begun to sob. Ron had taken her in his arms and asked Harry if thestrals were large enough to hold two riders on their backs. Harry had nodded and Ginny helped the two onto one thestral. They decided to take the other with them. Who knew what use it could be put to? Hermione’s sobs had died down as the descended into the small village of Godric’s Hollow. The thestrals had brought them right to the gates of the cemetery where Harry’s parents were buried. Harry had then been able to think of nothing else but what wasn’t important: the weather, the feel of the soft ground under his trainers, Ginny’s warm hand in his, Hermione clutching Ron as though frightened behind him, the lilies that he had thought so appropriate in his hand. And now here he was. Standing at his parents’ graves.
L-I-L-Y. Harry traced the letters of his mother’s name on her grave marker. This piece of stone was all that stood in memory of the woman who had given her life for her son. She could have run, Harry knew that, and as he heard his mother’s screams reverberating in his ears, he remembered another voice. One that had said to run, save herself and Harry, that he would hold off Voldemort. J-A-M-E-S. He fingered the grooves in the stone. His father had been a hero as well. He had saved his mother, without a second thought. He could have run with them to certain failure, but instead, he did the only thing that would, perhaps, slow Voldemort. He stood in his way.
Harry felt his eyes sting and burn. He would not cry. He would not. Had he ever cried about the loss of his parents? He had missed them when he was young, but he had never cried. Even when he grew to an age where he found links to his parents in Dumbledore and Sirius and Lupin, he had not cried.
“I cried when Sirius died,” Harry thought to himself.
Why had he never cried for his parents? This knowledge brought about a boiling self-loathing in the pit of Harry’s stomach. And he had never before even attempted to visit his parents’ graves. Why? Why had he never cared enough? That didn’t ring true in his head, and he felt his mind trying to force him into a rational state, but his heart and the pit in his stomach wouldn’t hear of it. They had been heroes! Wonderful people who had loved Harry enough to die for him! They had been best friends to Sirius, much as Ron and Hermione were to him. Why hadn’t he been a good son? Surely Sirius had come here! Sirius had probably thought of them everyday, but their own son had never taken the time. And then something snapped. Harry moved to a nearby tree, and all the anger he felt poured out in waves.
He yelled. In a way that no one, not even Harry himself, had ever witnessed him doing. He bellowed as he beat the tree with legs, feet, arms, hands, anything that could strike a blow. He was a terrible son! He stayed with the Weasleys every summer, regarded Mrs. Weasley as a mother. He had thought of Sirius as a father. How could he have betrayed his parents like that? Why were they never the first thing on his mind every day? Why? Why his family? Of course, he knew why, but he was not thinking straight. Why that night when he had been so young? He knew that his cries of rage were the reason that Ginny was watching him with tears glistening in her eyes. He knew that his actions were what caused Hermione to let out an audible sob of grief at Harry’s pain. He knew that his outburst was why Ron was paling and clutching Hermione tighter than ever. And he didn’t care. He began to shout out loud. Who cares if they know? They didn’t ever try to help me!
“I NEVER CRIED!!! THEY WERE MY PARENTS, AND I NEVER CRIED! NOT ONCE! IF THERE WAS A WORSE SON OUT THERE, I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHO IT IS!”
Suddenly Ginny was pulling him away from the tree with a strong hold on his shoulder and arm. Harry registered faintly how strong she was, but he was still angry. He attempted to shake her off.
“Harry,” Ginny whispered, pulling him to her in a tight embrace. There was no passion or kindness in this embrace; it was simply a means to stop him from further bloodying himself beating the tree. When he stopped struggling, however, he found that her arms tightened around him in a hug. It was no longer a restraint, but a source of comfort. And Harry found that the fight he was looking for was not what he needed. His resolve broke and he fell to his knees. Ginny moved to the ground to hold him, and the highly crafted cage Harry kept these emotions in--the ones dealing with his parents—broke. He was crying loudly and with little restraint. He did not register that Hermione was turned to Ron, crying into his chest, but he did hear Ginny sniffling above him as she held him to her.
“G-Ginny, n-not once h-have I cried! I love y-your m-mum. I-I p-pretend s-sometimes that she’s—that she’s m-my mum too.”
“Shhh,” Ginny whispered into Harry’s tousled hair, kissing his head. Her voice wavered with grief as she spoke, “Harry. You can’t tell me that you haven’t imagined having your parents back. Hermione told me about the Mirror of Erised. Harry, are you listening to me? What did you see in that mirror?”
Harry could not speak for crying for a moment, but he managed to gasp, “M-my parents.”
“And, correct me if I’m wrong, but the point of that mirror is that it shows the deepest desires of your heart. Whether you have consciously grieved over your parents or not, Harry, you would want nothing more than to have them back. You’re crying now, Harry. It’s just know hit you. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You know your parents are proud of you, and Sirius is with them.”
Harry wished that he could stop these tears. They were of a suffocating nature that he had never experienced. Drawing breath was not an option. He couldn’t breathe! He was going to die!
“Harry! Harry, look at me!” Ginny said, her tone no longer soft, but firm, “You have to take a deep breath. Come on now.”
Slowly, Ginny returned Harry to a semi-normal state, and he slumped into Ginny in utter exhaustion.
“Now, you know all of that stuff about you not being a good son is rubbish, don’t you?” Ginny said into his ear.
“I s’pose,” Harry felt somewhat relieved, and not a little ridiculous for his outburst.
Ginny chuckled a little.
“What could possibly be funny?” Harry asked.
“Tell you in a minute. Some other people seem to be concerned about you,” Ginny gestured to the side and Harry saw that Ron, holding Hermione upright with an arm around waist, was headed toward them.
“All right there, Hermione?” Ginny called.
Hermione could only manage a nod, and as Ginny pulled Harry up, they stood facing the other couple coming their way. As they approached, Hermione disentangled from Ron and threw herself on Harry in a hug that almost caused his still-weak knees to give.
“Harry, you can be so stupid sometimes!” Hermione gave a strangled whispered attempt at humour, and then gave up. Harry could feel the hot tears trickling from her eyes onto his shoulder, “My God, Harry, why did you never tell us you felt this way? I couldn’t bear to see you in that much pain. You’re a wonderful person, Harry, I-I couldn’t t-take you being so angry with yourself.”
Harry felt much better to have Hermione be so much more upset than he was at this point, and he hugged her tightly for a moment before pulling her at arm’s length. She really was the best friend he could ask for, getting this weepy over him. She truly was the sister that he had never had. Swept by sudden affection, he placed a small, quick kiss on her forehead.
“Thanks for worrying, Hermione,” he said, as she moved back into the circle of Ron’s arms.
“You gave us all a scare, mate,” Ron said, still pale.
“Sorry,” Harry cringed, truly appalled that his friends had witnessed his breakdown.
“No problem,” Ron said hurriedly, “It’s just, usually you direct your anger at us instead of a tree.” Ron chuckled a bit as Harry raised his hands to find his knuckles bleeding.
“Episki,” Ginny said taking Harry’s hands and healing them quickly and effectively.
“Thanks,” Harry murmured, taking her hand in his newly healed one, “Umm…” he said uncertainly, looking around, “Did you—I mean, I don’t remember if, when I—Umm, do you see the lilies that I brought?”
“I picked them up,” Ron said, handing him a bunch of lilies that, although a bit wilted, looked no more the worse for wear, “It was the one coherent thing Hermione said as you dropped them and went at the tree.”
“Well, they’re quite pretty,” Hermione said, her tears now dry on her cheeks, “And I only thought that Harry might want them later, so…”
Ron kissed her and pulled back with a smile, “I wasn’t having a go at your ever-practical, control-freakish nature, Hermione.”
“I was simply commented on your thoughtfulness in having me pick them up,” Ron finished quickly and with confidence.
Harry could almost smile, but a look at the twin marble headstones to his left caused his heart to jolt. He took the lilies from Ron, and hugging Ginny, he whispered in her ear, “I need to do this alone, ok?” She nodded and he moved slowly to the grave markers.
“Hi, Mum, Dad,” Harry said softly, feeling a bit foolish for talking to stone, “I, umm…well, I’m really sorry it took so long for me to get here. I-I don’t know how much you know about me. I’m guessing that Sirius, and, well, I guess Dumbledore now, have caught you up a bit.” Harry felt his stomach twist at the thought of Sirius and Dumbledore, but he was finding it comforting to speak to his parents as if they could hear him, “I finished my sixth year at Hogwarts last year, well technically, I guess it was this year, but, umm, well a lot’s going on right now, and I couldn’t finish my seventh year. If you were here, you’d understand. Although, if you were here, I suppose I wouldn’t have to go and do what I’m planning.”
He paused, unsure of whether or not he should voice exactly what was going through his mind, but he decided that he could tell his parents, if they could hear him, what was on his mind.
“I miss you both. A lot,” Harry felt the stinging start again, but this time, slow tears dripped down his cheeks, and he let them fall silently, “I wonder sometimes what life would be like if you were here. But if you had seen me off at the train station that first day of Hogwarts would I have met Ron? Would I have been with Ron when he insulted Hermione so that we would have to save her and gained her as a friend? Would I have met Ginny?”
Harry glanced over his should at the people he loved most in the world. They were standing, arms around each other, watching him, and watching out for him. Harry smiled.
“Yeah,” he answered himself, “Yeah we would have met. We were supposed to, and we would have at any rate. And Ginny…well, she’s the only one for me, so that would have to have happened. I wonder if you would have been ok with me staying at the Burrow as often as I do. Life would be so different. To be honest, now when I think of you up there with Sirius and Dumbledore, it doesn’t hurt so much,” Harry said.
Harry felt a pang as he realized that he would never be able to visit a grave for Sirius.
“Sirius just sort of disappeared through a veil in the Department of Mysteries. So if he’s there with you, let him know how much I miss him too. I love you both. And,” he began and he felt Ginny’s arm around him, tentative, as though she was wondering whether she had given him enough time. He squeezed her to him and she took this as an invitation to stay. Ron and Hermione were right behind her.
“And,” Harry continued, “Mum, Dad, I love you and I miss you, but, honestly, I get so sick of being told that I look ‘just like James’-”
“Except for the eyes. You have Lily’s eyes,” the other three finished for him, all four laughing.
“You see?” Harry asked with a smile, “You had to pass on these looks to me, didn’t you? Couldn’t have any chance that I couldn’t be immediately identified as your son, could you?”
“Ah, now, don’t say that,” Ginny said to Harry, and then directed her next statement at Lily and James, “I have to say you did a brilliant job. I love your son, and I wouldn’t change a thing about him. Don’t listen to him!”
Harry smiled down at her and kissed her before turning to Ron and Hermione.
“So, shall we go to Grimmauld Place? Try and dig up that Horcrux?” he asked.
Ron, Hermione, and Ginny all nodded their consent.
“You two go ahead, and we’ll catch up,” Harry said, “I want to say goodbye.”
Since he had spoken only to Ron and Hermione and was still holding Ginny tightly to his side, it was made clear that Ginny was to stay with Harry.
They walked away with a nod, but Harry heard Ron grumble, “A lot of good it will do seeing as we can’t see the thestrals!”
Harry turned back to the stones and putting his free hand first on his mother’s and then his father’s graves, he whispered,
“Goodbye. I miss you.”
“You have a hell of a son, Mr. Potter, Mrs. Potter. He loves you very much.”
Harry was touched beyond reason not only by the comment but by the gesture Ginny made next. She kissed her free hand and laid it on each tombstone in turn.
He drew her close as they walked away, but before they reached Ron and Hermione—who were looking in the opposite direction of the thestrals, though they called out to them as though they were right there in front of the couple—Harry stopped.
“Wait,” he said, “Before, you were laughing, and you said you’d tell me in a minute. What were you laughing about?”
“Oh,” Ginny giggled, “You were just going on and on about how horrible a son you were and I was saying how proud your parents would be of you. I know they would be, but then I thought of Sirius, and I thought that he’s probably with your parents, and while they beam and cry a bit over how upset you were, Sirius was probably ready to give you a boot in the arse for believing those things you said. He would have a few choice words for you if he heard you saying all of those things.”
Harry smiled because he knew she was right, and as he called to Ron and Hermione that they were looking in the wrong direction, he thought that if Sirius had had any physical way of being here today that Harry would, indeed, have a sore arse and ringing ears from the things Sirius would do and say. The thought was comforting.
A/N: Ok, so what did you think? I hope to have the next chapter up soon. Thanks so much to those who sent e-mails encouraging me to continue writing. I love you guys, and I’m so glad to be back! Review please!
A/N: Hey to all those who stuck with me through the ridiculous sabbatical I felt the need to take. Thank you so much; you have no idea how much your support means to me. I lost a lot of faithful reviewers through that stupid decision, and I just really really appreciate those of you who didn’t give up on me. I’d also really like to thank gryffiesmom for all of her wonderfully specific reviews. Thanks. A word of explanation: those of you who read Tears of Apology will recognize that parts of that story have been inserted into this chapter. Those of you who haven’t read it will not really notice anything different. So read on, friends.
It was still there. Something in Harry had completely distanced himself from the former home of his godfather. He had somehow driven it so far from his mind that he had almost believed that it no longer stood. And it belonged to him now. Number twelve Grimmauld Place loomed ahead of him as an omen. Harry truly believed that nothing good could come of this place, and yet, the Horcrux he was longing to find was possibly resting within the very walls which Harry wished never again to reside inside.
“Harry,” Ginny said, having let the thestrals loose in the woods to eat. Hagrid had assured her that they would hunt for themselves and then return to wherever they had been told to return to, “We have to go in at some point, you know.”
She stood at Harry’s shoulder, and Harry pulled her to him by the hand. He knew he was gripping it past the point of pain, but he knew that she would let him. Ginny knew, she understood how much he needed her.
“Yeah, Harry, I reckon she’s right,” Ron said in a voice that was so carefully casual that it was transparent.
Hermione only nodded, clutching Ron around the waist. Harry looked around. He had his friends. He could do this. He could find the locket—or lack thereof—and he could get out of there. It was his house, after all, and he could spend as little or as much time there as he needed without being disturbed. So, gripping Ginny’s hand, they led the way up the front steps with Ron and Hermione right behind them. Harry turned the doorknob and—anticipating the shouts of Sirius’s mother—was momentarily shocked to see that the portrait was no longer at the top of the stairs, and yet, there was shrieking and yelling. It was addressed, not at him, however, but at Ginny.
“GINNY WEASLEY!!! HOW DARE YOU!?! CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT YOUR FATHER AND I WENT THROUGH? RECEIVING A NOTE FROM MINERVA MCGONAGALL STATING THAT YOU ‘WERE INTENDING TO TRAVEL ALONGSIDE HARRY, RON, HERMIONE’? YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW WE PANICKED!!! HOW INCONSIDERATE TO NOT HAVE EVEN ASKED US YOURSELF!-”
Mrs. Weasley had burst into the room upon their arrival, and behind her Harry saw faces poking through the door of what Harry knew to be the meeting room of the Order. HE mentally smacked himself upside the head. Of course, this was still the Headquarters. He had not stopped to consider that the members of the Order might be here. His plans of being alone were almost demolished now, but first things first. He should stop Mrs. Weasley and Ginny killing each other.
“I’M SORRY THE LETTER WASN’T WORDED JUST THE WAY YOU WOULD LIKE, MUM, YOU SHOULD SPEAK TO PROFESSOR MCGONAGALL ABOUT THAT AS I HAD NO CONTROL OVER IT! AND I KNEW THAT IF I WROTE AND ASKED PERMISSION YOU WOULD SAY NO! AND WHATEVER YOU SAY, MY PLACE IS WITH HARRY! HE NEEDS ME, MUM! WHY CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?”
“Mrs. Weasley, it’s not Ginny’s fault,” Harry started, though he had no idea where he was going with this, he had tried as hard as he could to prevent her from coming, “I tried to stop her coming, but I didn’t really try. I could’ve done more. Made her stay at school.”
At this Mrs. Weasley laughed, “Harry, dear, you don’t realize yet that women never do anything because you tell them too. It’s quite sweet of you to try and take the blame here, but I know my daughter, and this is not your fault. Why don’t you, Ron, and Hermione run along upstairs? I need to have a word with my daughter and then, I’m sure that the Order would like to meet with you.”
“The Order?” Harry looked confused, “Why?”
“Well, you didn’t think you were going to go on this mission by yourself did you? No, no, no. But all in good time, dear. Run along now.”
Harry hesitated, glancing at Ginny, who was still glaring daggers at her mother, but Mrs. Weasley shooed him from the room. He, Ron, and Hermione climbed the stairs.
“Do you think they’ll be alright?” Hermione asked, glancing downstairs, looking worried.
“Ginny’s more than a match for Mum,” Ron said as he followed behind Hermione up the stairs.
Harry moved mechanically into a spare room where there had once been a cabinet containing the locket. Ron and Hermione followed, and Harry could tell they were arguing, but he wasn’t listening. He opened the cabinet door with a feeling of hopefulness that was immediately deflated when he found that the cabinet was empty. Where else could it be? He did not remember if they had moved it. Then the sound of Ron’s and Hermione’s voices entered his ears.
The arguing never stopped. It was incredible how much energy was put into each retort. How on earth could two people fight this much and still be completely in love? At the moment, Harry didn’t particularly care to analyze his two best friends’ romantic miracle. He just wanted the perpetual bickering to end.
“Ron, it’s not Kreacher’s fault that he is the way he is. He was predisposed to evil, and so that’s what he became. He was taught that his way is right; you can’t alter the teachings of childhood.”
A snide laugh came in response to this statement, “Yeah, because being told that magic isn’t real for a decade really shaped you, didn’t it? Couldn’t be altered after that.”
“That’s different, and you know it, Ron. Why do you insist on being so ignorant? For once, think about a species other than your own typically skewed male race. Think about how horrible it must be to not have the ability to say, ‘I don’t believe this is right.’ Honestly, take two minutes and just think, Ron!”
Harry had had enough.
“You two! Stop. Having. A. Go. At. Each other,” he bit off the words with clenched teeth.
The fighting stopped immediately. Ron and Hermione stood in the corner of the dusty, abandoned room looking ashamed. They had clearly wanted to avoid upsetting Harry, but the pull to their normal pattern of arguing over everything had been too strong. Harry took in a huge breath and let it out in a massive sigh. He hadn’t meant to make them feel as though they shouldn’t be here. After all, Harry had asked them to come, to be a part of everything he had to do in order to stop Voldemort.
“Listen, I agree with Ron, Hermione. No,” he cut Hermione of as she attempted to retort, “It is better that Kreacher isn’t here. He’s much better off at Hogwarts and I need to do this without him here.”
It was a mark of how serious Harry’s tone was that Hermione did not counter this with a remark, but simply nodded and said,
“Of course, Harry. Where should go now?”
Harry looked around the desolate room. He would rather be anywhere else right now, but this had to be done.
“Well, I suppose Si- his room would be the next best place to look.”
Ron and Hermione nodded their assent and followed Harry’s trudging pace out of the room into a bedroom that hadn’t been used in a year. Huddled in the doorway, Ron and Hermione waited anxiously to follow Harry’s lead. They were not going to act until Harry had first. Harry felt tears threaten, and took that as an incentive to move about and try to stem the flow. He moved with an almost leaden feeling, as though his shoes had filled with heavy rocks. Shuffling along without really thinking, Harry opened the bedside drawer and discovered a thick stack of books bound with twine. He knew that this was a sidetrack from looking for the locket, but his curiosity took over. Harry pulled the books out with shaking hands. He felt himself being lowered to the bed as if someone else were controlling his movements. He clumsily untied the twine, and spread the identical books out in front of him.
Hermione moved forward slowly. Ron lightly grabbed her arm, and she looked him in the eye. Harry was oblivious to the silent discussion happening in the doorway. Ron was saying with his grip and his eyes that Hermione should let Harry do this on his own, while Hermione’s warm hand on his hand that grasped her so firmly along with her compassionate gaze said that Harry needed his friends.
Harry’s mind was completely blank except for one thought: he wished Ginny were here. He knew that this was selfish, but at the same time, she was so close. Just downstairs.
Staring with unseeing eyes at the canvas volumes in front of him, he started as he felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking up with shock, Harry registered that it was Hermione. She wore that “concerned” Hermione expression that Harry loathed. He always felt pathetic when she turned that gaze on him. Thankfully, she didn’t speak. She settled herself behind Harry on the bed, staring at the tomes. Ron moved towards them with a sigh of resignation. He settled next to Hermione, also looking over Harry’s shoulder. What Hermione had in subtle concern, Ron was only to voice what he was feeling.
“So, Harry…are you planning on opening those, mate?”
Hermione elbowed Ron, and glared at him.
“What? No one was saying anything, and I reckoned that if I didn’t we’d be sitting here all night. Mum would send out a search party, and it would just turn into this massive thing. I thought I should say something,” Ron mumbled.
Harry gave a weak smile as Hermione continued to look disapprovingly at Ron.
“No, he’s right, Hermione. I do need to look through them,” Harry said, and though he regretted that Ginny was not there, the pull was just too strong.
Hermione nodded and grasped Ron’s hand in a symbol of apology. Harry watched Ron squeeze her hand, and felt a pang of longing for Ginny. Shaking it aside, he pulled a random book towards him. He had a suspicion as to what they contained, but he wasn’t sure. Opening the cover, Harry read in a familiar print: The Night. Harry thought he knew exactly what night it was that Sirius had written about in this journal, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to read it.
“Harry, we don’t have to read this now. We can take it with us,” Hermione nearly whispered her voice was so soft.
Harry shook his head, “No,” his voice broke and he cleared his throat, “No,” he said more clearly, “If I don’t do this now, I won’t do it at all.”
Ron nodded at Harry, “Go on, then, mate. We’re here.”
Hermione laid a comforting hand back on Harry’s shoulder and gave a light press. Harry knew that he had his friends’ support. And when he finished this reading, he could go back to the Burrow. Back to the comfort of family. Back to Ginny and back to some semblance of normalcy. But for now, he turned the page and began to read; Ron and Hermione following along over his shoulder.
There is no way to write how I feel at this moment. All I know is that I have to. If I’m going to figure out where that worthless little rat is, I have to have my facts straight. I can start by saying, tonight is the worst night of my life…
I don’t need to say how dangerous things were up until just hours ago. It was my seemingly brilliant idea to change the Secret Keeper. My BLOODY idea! Change it to Pettigrew, I said, no one will suspect that he’s your Secret Keeper. Brilliant suggestion, Sirius, just brilliant. I suggested it, and I worried about it. I knew it wasn’t a wonderful thought, but blast it all if I didn’t think Lily and James would be safer this way! I was sitting at the table, eating dinner, wondering if I should check up on Wormtail. Just to see if he was all right. Ha! All right? He’s all right! What was I thinking? If I had been a few minutes earlier!
My guilt at putting Wormtail, who couldn’t fend off a mosquito, in this position ate at me until I decided I should check his hiding place out. Just to be sure he was ok. I got on my bike, and I flew to the hole we had him living in. It wasn’t for lack of trying to get him a better place; he insisted he was ‘just fine’ where he was. Of course he was. It would be easy to leave a shack like that; no remorse at all for the loss of home or dignity or friends! So I turn up there, and he was gone. At first, I thought something had happened. I worried. I was scared for Pettigrew! Actually scared for the safety of a man I thought was our friend. Mine and James’ and Lily’s. What a joke that was! It finally hit me, as I stood in the center of the room that Wormtail wasn’t in danger at all. The wood creaked under my boots and I seemed to have serious trouble picking my feet up to move towards the door. My insides turned to lead. I could only think, “James…Lily…James...Lily.”
I found myself tearing from the shack, ripping the dangling door from its rusty hinges. I wasn’t even processing now. I was simply acting through nature and instinct. I knew I had to get to James and Lily. Something was very wrong. I love how I say ‘something was very wrong.’ I’m just stating the obvious; of COURSE something was wrong!
My mind raced through all the possible worst case scenarios. James had fended Voldemort off and Lily had escaped with Harry. Perhaps they had had their house destroyed in attempts to escape. If my friends were alive, they had nothing; that was for sure. These, let’s just be clear, were the only thoughts I seemed to be capable of having. No scenarios of death of all the family seemed to enter my mind. I always pictured scenarios of one dying, leaving the others safe. I think if I had pushed my mind to the extreme likelihood of all three of their deaths, I would have fallen right out of the sky.
As it was, I could feel the winds whipping my cheeks. Tears weren’t even ready to form behind my eyelids. I wondered, myself, if I had lost all of the senses I possessed except sheer panic. It was panic that drove me tonight. In fact, I expect that I won’t remember much of tonight when tomorrow comes.
I seemed to hear cheering and celebration as I neared James’s home. I had been holed up in my house all day, and I hadn’t paid any attention to the goings-on. Flying low in the sky I distinctly heard a cheer of “You-Know-You is gone forever!” For a brief moment, I allowed myself to believe that James and Lily had defeated Voldemort. The whole way from that point to Godric’s Hollow, I convinced myself that they were alive. I was so sure that my best friends had overcome the most powerful wizard of all time that when the remains of the Potter’s house came into view, I talked myself into believing that Lily and James had destroyed their own home in the process of dueling with Voldemort. My stomach seemed to know better. It was going mad, flipping here and there. I landed my bike before I crashed it, and I made out the massive form of Hogwarts’s Gamekeeper, Hagrid. Why would Hagrid be rummaging in the wreckage of Lily and James’s house? It hit me then; that moment.
They were dead. I moved towards the house, shaking. I couldn’t control it. Hagrid couldn’t see me as I moved into the doorway that was simply that now: just a doorway. The frame around it had been destroyed. I leaned against it, willing myself to at least ask Hagrid what had happened. I talked myself into moving. One foot right after the other. I had to give my mind very simple instructions or I was not going to be able to control even the easiest coordination attempts. I stumbled on the sixth step forward, cracking broken wood and debris under my weight. Hagrid turned his massive head, his face streaked with tears and a bundle in his arms.
“Sirius, I’m…I mean…James ‘n Lily was as good as they come. It’s summat terrible when a witch and wizard good as them…I jus’ don’ understand how…” Hagrid attempted to finish a thought, but broke into huge sobs proportional to his size.
I didn’t want to comfort Hagrid, cruel as that may sound. I wanted to be alone with my grief. Then I heard a cry issuing from the bundle in Hagrid’s arms. I had a thought. Surely it couldn’t be…could it have happened? How could little Harry have survived when James and Lily didn’t?
“Hagrid? Is that…Harry?”
Hagrid nodded sadly, blowing his nose with the hand that wasn’t cradling Harry.
“They’re sayin’ little Harry ‘ere was the one who stopped “You-Know-Who.” They say He couldn’t kill Harry.”
More sobs ensued. Past my grief, past the immeasurable pain I was feeing, I felt a slight relief. My godson. I would care for James’s and Lily’s son. He would know his parents through me and I would have James through him.
“Hagrid, could I hold him?” I asked, proud that my voice didn’t break.
Hagrid nodded once more and handed Harry to me. Hagrid seemed glad to have both hands so as to blow his nose on his massive handkerchief. I looked down at Harry, and I loved him. He looked so peaceful, gurgling in a baby’s oblivious manner. I couldn’t bring myself to feel glad, but I did feel as though there was hope now that I had Harry. Hugging him to me, I looked at Hagrid.
“Give him to me, Hagrid. I’m his godfather.”
Hagrid looked pained, “I would, Sirius, but I ‘ave Dumbledore’s orders to bring Harry to ‘m.”
I felt the air leave my lungs. I was granted one lifeline after the deaths of my best friends, and it was ripped away. Dumbledore ordered it?
And then it hit me: Dumbledore wasn’t aware of the fact that we had switched Secret Keepers. He still believed me to be James’s and Lily’s Secret Keeper! I understood now why he would want Harry immediately brought to him for safe-keeping. And he was right. Until I could track that rat down and get a confession out of him, Dumbledore would have to have the final word. Handing Harry over was the hardest thing I have ever done. It felt as though I was literally wrenching an appendage from my body. I told myself that I would see Harry again soon, but as I looked around the ruin of what had once been a lovely, family home, I saw all that Wormtail had destroyed. His best friends and now the life of their son, who would grow up without his parents. I was filled with anger. I didn’t just want a confession. I wanted revenge! I want revenge! To kill the man who betrayed us all! This anger left such despair in its wake that my voice wavered.
“Alright, Hagrid. You can take my bike. I don’t need it anymore.”
Hagrid managed to look shocked even beneath his tear-strewn demeanor, “But, Sirius. You love yer bike.”
I gave a harsh laugh, “It doesn’t really seem all that important, now does it?”
Hagrid only nodded and promised, “I’ll get it back ter yeh.”
It didn’t matter anymore. I would be gone by the time Hagrid came to return it. I would be on the hunt for a man I once thought to be a friend. I gave a small wave as Hagrid rode away with a loud gunning of the engine. I watched him disappear into the night sky and I managed to stand straight and Apparate home as the Muggles began to come outside to investigate the source of the noises.
I hit the floor in my small home. I didn’t know what room I was in, nor did I care. All of the horrible sorrow that had managed to be held in while I was with Hagrid seemed to bubble up and over. I remained on the floor and the tears began to flow. My best friends. James. We were more brothers than friends. How am I supposed to cope without him? The years spent together when I lived more often at his home then at my own. James, my partner in crime and my best friend. And Lily. The kindest person I have ever known. But she has a hell of a hex. Had. She had a hell of a hex. Everything I knew to be was now gone. Everything my friends are now becomes what they were. Lily was the brightest witch I had ever met. And James was the brother I had always hoped for—not the fool Regulus had been. I managed a watery laugh at all the fond memories of James and Lily that changed rapidly into racking sobs. How could he do this!?! Wormtail was supposed to be our friend! SUPPOSED TO BE OUR FRIEND! This is my fault! I suggested the change. James didn’t want it. Why didn’t I listen? Why? Why? There’re so many things that I can’t even think about right now. I need to send my stuff away. To where? I don’t know. This pain, gut-wrenching heartache has to go away. How can I cope without the only two solid things in my life? And now Harry’s gone as well.
I will seek revenge on Peter Pettigrew. Whether it takes me the rest of my life or not, I will find him. And when I do; I’m going to kill him for betraying them! This is my fault and I have to deal with that. I will kill him, and I’ll get Harry back. He should be taught how wonderful his parents were. He should know.
Tomorrow, I’ll send my things to Grimmauld Place. I never plan to return, but I know that it won’t be ransacked. I’ll sell this house, and I won’t return until I’ve had vengeance and Harry’s returning with me. Surely I’m suspected for killing my friends; I did kill them. And I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. James…Lily…I’m so sorry.
Harry was crying a steady stream, but silent of tears. These tears fell onto the already tear-soaked water damaged parchment of Sirius’s journal. Hermione was crying behind him, and Ron held her in his arms, looking grief stricken, but controlled for both Harry’s and Hermione’s sakes.
“How would I feel if I lost them? What if Voldemort kills them? It will be my fault. This wasn’t Sirius’s fault, but if Ron and Hermione die, it will most definitely be mine,” Harry thought to himself.
Hermione gave Ron a peck on the cheek, signaling him that it was okay to release her. Ron did so slowly, as if making sure that she was really alright. Hermione leaned forward and pulled Harry into a hug. Harry had not expected this and it broke the stretched nerve in his mind. All of the noisy tears he had managed to hold in broke free like the water in a dam. He sobbed into his best friend’s shoulder, while she kept a firm hold on him. Surely if she let go, he would be lost forever. Hermione’s arms were the only thing holding him on earth.
“It…wasn’t…his…fault,” Harry choked out, “He…always…thought…it…was. I-I w-wish I had known h-how guilty he f-felt. I c-could’ve t-told him it wasn’t h-his fault.”
Hermione shushed him, and he sobbed until he could not shed another tear. Ron looked as though he was on the verge of tears as well, and he clasped Harry on the shoulder as Hermione released her woeful best friend. She leaned back into Ron, wiping her face frantically in attempt to be strong. Just then, Ginny entered the room, surveying the scene: the tears that had clearly been shed and the books that had been strewn across the bed. She walked toward Harry, and with one hand firmly on his shoulder, gently and silently picked up the journal that still lay open. Reading it through, Harry felt the soft wet drop trailing from her eyes, and when she closed the book, she reached down and pulled Harry into yet another hug. Not a hug meant as a lifeline, but one simply to offer comfort. How could she give so much without saying one word?
Ginny released him and Harry drew in a shaky sigh. Ron spoke in an effort to stimulate normalcy, “So, he must have sent this with all of the things he sent back here. Listen, Harry, it’s good that you read this. Now you know how much he wanted to keep you, even in the beginning. Now you know how much your parents were loved, mate.”
Harry nodded, and sat up. He stood and shook his head.
“Let’s get all of this stuff gathered up. We’ll take the rest of the journals downstairs with us.”
The other two nodded and moved silently off the bed to help Harry collect the rest of Sirius’s belongings. Sirius had held so much guilt. And his parents’ death had been truly horrendous. Harry looked out the window of the room. It was covered it grime, and as a result he saw a grey-tinted day outside. The sorrow of this day was just another day of misery to add to his collection of miserable days. But for Sirius, the day Harry’s parents died was the worst day imaginable. Harry glanced once more at Ron and Hermione and Ginny and decided that if they died, he’d be glad to join them in the afterlife. He felt the unhappiness lift a bit at the thought of Sirius being reunited with his parents—and now Dumbledore too. Looking out the window once more, Harry could have sworn he saw the sun peeking out; reassuring him that he had come to the correct realization. In a minute he would have to return downstairs to face the task before him and resume the search for the locket, but right now, he felt hope and release from some of the sorrow he had so long kept locked up in his heart.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed that. I know it was a bit redundant for those who’ve read “Tears of Apology” but I switched it up a bit, and I hope I didn’t lose anyone along the way. So, review please!!! I’ll update again soon, but I so long to hear from you all!!! Review, my friends, review!!! Also, I have a new fic up that deals with George and Brooke, H/G, and R/HR. Not connected to this story or The Wedding, but I enjoy writing it. Cute stuff, so please check it out. Thanks guys. REVIEW!
A/N: Hey to all! I know the last two chapters have been tear-filled, but I’m trying not to make you all—and myself—cry writing this chapter. So, that being said, on with the hopefully less grief-inspiring chapter.
Harry had no idea whether anything in the journals would be of any further use, but he wanted them with him. It made him feel closer to Sirius and his parents through Sirius. Holding Ginny’s hand as they walked down the stairs, Harry asked, “How’d things go with your mum?”
Ginny grinned, “I won.”
Harry smiled back at her with admiration, “I knew you would.”
“Unbelievable! I’m older and wiser and yet, you’re the only one who can win an argument with Mum,” Ron grumbled behind them on the stairs.
“Oh, older, yes, but I was older than you when I was three, Ron. Wiser, absolutely not.”
Hermione giggled, and Ron glared at her, “Aren’t you supposed to be on my side?”
“Ron, I’m always on your side,” she laughed, “It’s just that she’s right.”
“Let’s not start, you two,” Harry said.
They were silent as they reached the bottom of the stairs and stared at the doorway to the meeting room.
“You should knock, I guess,” Ginny said.
“I can’t,” Harry whispered, “I don’t know how much I should tell them. I mean, Dumbledore told me not to.”
“You can only do what you think is right, Harry,” Hermione said.
Harry nodded, and before he could knock the door was opened. McGonagall stood there waiting to admit them into the room. Harry walked silently past her followed by Ginny, Ron, and Hermione.
Sitting around a table were Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Lupin, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Tonks, and…Snape.
Harry’s insides boiled with anger, and he felt Ginny tremble with it herself. He stopped himself from launching across the table at the man who had cause him so much pain, and he spoke calmly but with unsuppressed bitterness.
“What. Is. He. Doing. Here?” Harry managed.
“Harry, dear,” Mrs. Weasley began, lost for words. She didn’t know how to explain this to Harry, “I know you’re upset, but--”
“UPSET? OF COURSE I’M UPSET! THAT MAN KILLED DUMBLEDORE! HOW CAN YOU SIT THERE WITH HIM?”
Mrs. Weasley’s eyes filled with tears, and Harry felt a stab of regret for yelling at her. He wasn’t really angry at her. He was angry with whoever allowed this traitor back into the Order.
“Potter!” McGonagall’s voice barked, “You will desist with your rant this instant or I will no longer allow you to be a part of this meeting.”
Harry was tempted to say, “Fine, whatever. I don’t want to be here with him, anyway,” but Hermione laid a hand on his arm and gave him a look that said, “We should see what’s up.” Written on her face, however, was the deep loathing that Harry felt in his gut. So he nodded. If Hermione and Ron—who was looking at Snape as though he were thestral dung (which, incidentally, Ron would not be able to see)—could hold their emotions in, he could try to as well. Ginny was still shaking with rage, and Harry took her hand in his, giving it a small squeeze. He then took a seat as far away from Snape as he could get.
When he was settled with Ginny on one side and Hermione on the other with Ron next to her, Harry said, “Will someone please explain to me what’s going on?”
“Potter,” McGonagall said, sitting at the other end of the table, “You have spoken to Albus, or so I come to understand, through his portrait in my office. I remember the night well. In this conversation, I believe you two discussed Severus.”
Harry remembered Dumbledore speaking about Snape being in love with his mother. He had thought it was absurd at the time, and he still believed it to be now. He had, nonetheless, had the conversation so he nodded.
“Perhaps Albus mentioned the fact that Snape was innocent to you as well.”
“Does it matter?” Harry blurted, “HE STILL KILLED HIM? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHY HE DID IT!”
“Potter!” McGonagall began, but Snape interrupted her.
“If you would allow me, Minerva,” Snape’s slimy voice said, “Potter, it does not matter in the least to me whether or not you like me. But you will understand that I am loyal to Dumbledore.”
“He’s dead now, though isn’t he?” Harry said, “You killed him. How loyal can you be if you kill the man you’re supposed to be behind?”
“Potter, I don’t care what you think of me, but these people trust me.”
Harry glanced around the room and thought that, perhaps this was not true. Mr. Weasley, Lupin, and Tonks were all looking at Snape with uncertain expressions, but he did not point this out. He decided that the only way he was going to be able to restrain himself from killing Snape was to pretend he was not there, so, not bothering to listen to anything else he had to say, he turned to McGonagall.
“Fine, so, any other surprises you’d like to spring on me?” Harry asked.
“Potter, you are here because you would be mad to think that we at the Order would allow you to go on these missions alone.”
“What missions?” Harry feigned dumbness. Dumbledore had not wanted him to share the knowledge of his responsibility with anyone but Ron, Hermione, and then Ginny. Surely McGonagall had not told the entire Order of his intentions.
“I have told these members of the Order of your intentions, Potter.”
Harry’s stomach sank, “How could you have done? You know Dumbledore didn’t want that-”
“POTTER!” McGonagall’s voice began shrill and laced with such emotion that Harry felt himself stop speaking, “Do you think, for a moment, that I would defy Albus Dumbledore’s wishes? Would I ever do anything that would insult his memory? Well, Potter?”
Harry could not believe the shame he felt coursing through him. He had never heard such emotion from McGonagall except for the night when Dumbledore died. He couldn’t speak. Luckily Hermione spoke up.
“Please, Professor, he’s just upset. He knows you’d never do anything that you believed Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t have wanted.”
Harry managed to nod his agreement to Hermione’s words. McGonagall nodded in return and cleared her throat.
“Very well, then. As I was saying, these select members of the Order, as chosen by Albus, know the truth of the Horcruxes and of your status as ‘The Chosen One.’ You can trust that each and every one of them will guard these truths with their lives.”
Harry glared at Snape. He could not help but think that, perhaps, they had handed Voldemort the very information that he needed. There was nothing he could do about it, however. If, even after murdering him, Dumbledore believed Snape to be on their side, then Harry had no choice but to accept it. But he would not do it willingly.
“Right,” Harry said briskly, “So, they know. What of it?”
“Well, Potter, I realize that you view these missions as solitary things, but you are a fool if you do not accept the help of seven highly trained witches and wizards in your search.”
Harry opened his mouth to say that he would not, under any circumstances, lead more people to their deaths. Well…maybe Snape. Just as he began to speak, however, Ginny placed a hand on his arm. He bit back the words with frustration.
“Don’t take that tone with me, Harry. I have something to say.”
“Sorry,” he said, not really sorry at all.
“Sure you are. But now’s not the time for that fight. Right now you should consider that Professor McGonagall is right. The Order can provide access to knowledge that even Hermione may not have. Maybe. I don’t know how much knowledge is out there that Hermione doesn’t already possess, but nonetheless, they can help, Harry. I mean, do you know how to get rid of a Horcrux once you find it?”
“We’ll figure it out,” Harry grumbled.
“Harry, now you’re just being stubborn,” Ginny hissed, “I know this has its roots in working with Snape, but—as much as I hate him, too—we’re going to have to get past that. Just take a minute to think about this, Harry.”
The two were conversing as though no one could hear them, but this illusion was shattered as McGonagall said,
“Miss Weasley is right.”
“Yes, Harry, dear. Please let us help you,” Mrs. Weasley pleaded with teary eyes.
Harry looked around at Hermione and Ron.
“Well? Everyone else is putting in their opinion. I know you have them, so? What do you have to say?”
“I think Ginny’s right, Harry,” Hermione said fervently.
“Of course you do,” Harry said.
“I hate to say it, Harry, but I think we’re outnumbered. It seems as though the sensible thing has outweighed personal preferences,” Ron glared in Snape’s direction.
Even though Ron had more or less agreed with the rest, it was comforting to know that Ron had initially been with Harry.
“Fine,” Harry said, “What now?”
“Now,” McGonagall said, “I have to brief the rest of the Order on the specific nature of the Horcruxes. They have only been told that You-Know-Who created them. They are not aware of what has already been apprehended and what remains to be found. You may do it, if you like, but I thought that you might not want to, Potter, considering how close you are to the topic.”
She was right. Harry did not want to tell them all about Voldemort’s Horcruxes. But he also knew that they would not be painted the whole picture if he did not tell them.
“No, it’s alright, Professor. I’ll tell it,” Harry said, resigned.
“Very well, Potter. You have the floor.”
With this, McGonagall sat down, and Harry began to speak. But before he could get a word out, Hermione was pushing up on his arm.
“What, Hermione?” Harry said, exasperated.
“Stand up,” she whispered.
Harry rolled his eyes, but he stood and began, “TO understand Voldemort’s need for the Horcruxes, umm…I guess I’ll have to start where Dumbledore started with me.”
That being said, Harry launched into the retelling of all the scenes he had witnessed in the Pensieve in Dumbledore’s office. He was continuously shocked to see how attentive the full grown witches and wizards of the Order were to a teenage boy’s words. When he had finished, McGonagall nodded, signaling that Harry could resume his seat.
“Right, then. I believe that’s enough for now,” she said, “I want you all to take this in. We’ll meet again tomorrow.”
“Wait, Professor,” Harry said, “We think we’ve found another Horcrux.”
“What?” McGonagall said, “Why didn’t you mention this before?”
“Well, there wasn’t exactly an opportune moment,” Harry said sarcastically, “Why did you think we were here?”
“We just assumed you would come here at some point, Harry. To look through Sirius’s things,” Lupin spoke for the first time.
Harry nodded, “I guess so, but, honestly, I never wanted to set foot in this house ever again.”
“I know,” Lupin said softly, and Harry thought that perhaps Lupin was the only other person who felt as much pain for Sirius’s passing as he did, “There are some journals of Sirius’s upstairs that I think you might like to have, Harry,” Lupin said.
“I already found them,” Harry said, trying not to let his voice break as it so wanted to.
McGonagall cleared her throat, “I’m sorry, Remus, but I have to be back at the school in the next five minutes, so I need to get this information from Harry. What Horcrux?”
Harry launched into the tale about how Hermione had remembered the locket being at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, and their fears that Mundungus had stolen it.
“Oh, believe me, Potter, we’ll find it. You four are returning to The Burrow. You will come here everyday so that we can strategize the retrieval of the remaining Horcruxes.”
Harry would have laughed at the hilarity of the circle they seemed to travel in—The Burrow to school to a mission and back to The Burrow—except that the idea of being based at The Burrow while they unraveled the mystery of the Horcruxes sounded like heaven.
He pulled Ginny up and Hermione and Ron followed.
“Is that all, then?” Harry asked.
McGonagall nodded, “Remus, Nymphadora, Kingsley, would you comb the place for any strong, dark magic. If you find the Horcrux, do not destroy it until we are all on hand. Severus, I believe you have somewhere to be as well.”
Even with all of her defensive words for Snape, Harry heard a deliberately bitter tone in McGonagall’s voice as she spoke to Snape. He showed no signs of hearing it, however, and turned to leave. McGonagall moved toward the door as well, when something occurred to Harry.
“Professor, how did you know to assemble everyone here? I mean, it was as though you knew we were coming.”
“We did,” McGonagall said, “Albus led Miss Weasley to the thestrals for more than just the fact that she cannot Apparate. Hagrid can keep track of every thestral that lives in the Forbidden Forest. We knew you were coming. Oh, that reminds me, Hagrid knows what’s going on, as well. But, seeing as he has no magic of his own, he could not make it here quickly enough to be a part of this meeting. He will be here tomorrow, however.”
And she swept from the room leaving Harry shaking his head. Lupin, Tonks, and Kingsley moved towards the door as well. Kingsley gave the four a nod and Tonks hugged Hermione and Ginny and spoke to them saying, “I’m so glad you’re all ok. Had me worried there for a spell.”
Lupin moved behind her, putting an arm around her waist and speaking to the group as well, “You four remind me of how we used to be when I was young. James, Sirius, and I would have jumped at this chance at seventeen. You say you have the journals, Harry?”
Harry nodded, “I have them.”
“Read them. They won’t have any impact on our mission now, but they may bring you closer to Sirius and your parents. Just know that I’m here in the flesh should you need me.”
Harry smiled, “Thanks Moony.”
He did not know what had possessed him to call Lupin Moony, but he knew it felt right. Lupin smile broadly, “It’s been a few years since I’ve been called that. I must say, I missed it.”
He clapped Harry on the shoulder and spoke to the group at large once more, “I’ll see you lot tomorrow then. Try not to get into too much trouble before then.”
This left the four alone with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Mrs. Weasley shuffled them off to the fireplace so that they could Apparate to The Burrow, and Harry felt as though, just maybe, things could work out. Maybe Moony, Tonks, and Kingsley would find the locket, and that would shorten their search. Maybe it would all be so easy with the powerful magic that the Order would bring. But then would come the Final Battle, and no one could fight that battle except Harry.
A/N: Ok, so there you go. I hope there was less sadness here than in past chapters. I saw GoF today for the fifth time, so I’m on what I like to call a “Harry High.” Make it even better by reviewing!!!
A/N: Hey guys! Ok, I know some of you are very upset that I brought Snape back into the picture. Let’s be clear: while I hate the man, I don’t believe he killed Dumbledore for Voldemort’s or his own gain. The rest of my opinions will be expressed through the characters, but just so that you all know, I am sorry if it upset you. It upset the gang too! And now on with chapter twenty-three.
“Harry, stop sulking! Honestly! Do you think any of us like that he’s here? But you can’t be constantly plotting his death!”
Ginny’s voice brought Harry out of his thoughts, which true enough, were focused mostly on killing Snape at the next opportunity.
“And why not, Ginny?” Ron’s voice retorted. It was late at night after the meeting, and the four occupied the deserted living room of The Burrow. Harry had done nothing but stare out the window in a reverie for the better part of a quarter of an hour. Ron had joined him while Ginny and Hermione sat away in the corner, rolling their eyes at men’s inability to bend to the ways of the world.
“Don’t you start, Ron Weasley!” Hermione scolded.
“Are you sticking up for him, then Hermione?” Ron scowled, not looking at her, but continuing to stare out the window. Harry wouldn’t look at Ginny either and for a full three seconds, they remained in broody silence until Ginny looked at Hermione- who nodded-and both girls moved in front of the chairs of their respective boyfriends.
“ENOUGH!” They both shouted.
Harry and Ron had the sense to look a bit frightened. When these two donned those faces, Harry knew, things could get ugly fast.
“You two are such ridiculous men!”
“How on Earth could two wizards be so stupid?”
“Just because you’re angry, doesn’t mean you shut the world out!”
“Do you think that we don’t feel the same way about Snape?”
“The fact that you two think you care more about the way Dumbledore died is mind-boggling!”
“If you think that we would, for an instant, stand up for Snape, you are sorely mistaken!”
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t accept the inevitable!”
“He’s obviously innocent of any malicious intent, and, though that doesn’t make him innocent of the murder…”
“It does mean that he’s back in the Order.”
“Apparently at Dumbledore’s wishes.”
“Now, if you can’t respect Dumbledore’s wishes, then what cause is it that you’re brooding over?”
“Get over your male tendency to hold a grudge…”
“And learn to live with the fact that Snape—while number two on our ‘least favorite person’ list—is going to be helping the Order.”
“You don’t have to trust him completely—we don’t.”
“But you HAVE TO STOP THIS BROODING!”
The last was said together, but the rest of the speech had alternated flawlessly from Hermione to Ginny, and when they had finished, Harry and Ron both had their mouths hanging wide open in shock and a bit of fear. Hermione and Ginny looked at each other and walked from the room. Ginny stopped at the door and turned saying, “When you two are done, you know where to find us.”
“Blimey,” Ron’s voice cracked.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed.
“And…we’re sure we’re in love with them?” Ron asked.
“Yeah,” Harry said again.
“That’s what I thought. But can you imagine what it’d be like to live with that?”
Harry let out a weak chuckle, “Ron, you’ve been living with Hermione for seven years. You’ve been married for six out of that seven. You just didn’t realize it.”
Ron shook his head, “I reckon they may be right. As much as we want to kill Snape, we’re just gonna have to accept that he’s back. We don’t have to like him, mate, or even trust him, like they said. But we’re probably going to have to abandon the assassination plots.”
Harry nodded with an angry gleam in his eye, “I hate him. With everything I am. I can’t pretend otherwise.”
“I get that, Harry, really I do. But I think we’re gonna have to put on an act here. Otherwise, I’m never gonna get so much as another kiss out of Hermione. And that would just be sad.”
Harry chuckled again, “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Should we go up and try to make up?”
“If we don’t, I think we’ll be target for another attack. They’re scary when they get together.”
“We’d better watch our steps,” Harry said seriously as they walked up the stairs towards Ginny’s room, extinguishing the remaining lights as they went—everyone else was already in bed.
“You knock,” Harry said as they reached the door.
“If I knock, you have to walk in first,” Ron said.
Harry thought it was probably more likely that they curse the first person to walk into the room rather than the hapless man knocking at the door, so rethinking it, Harry knocked himself.
“That was sneaky, Harry,” Ron said grimly, knowing that now he had to walk in first and so doing risk being hit with Hermione’s curse.
Slowly, Ron pushed the door open to find that both girls were asleep in bed. Ron let out a sigh of relief.
“They look so peaceful,” Harry said.
“Appearances are deceiving, mate,” Ron said, but he nevertheless bent and brushed Hermione’s forehead with a kiss.
Harry thought it was oddly tender for Ron, and he knew in that instant that Ron would lay down his life for Hermione without an instant’s hesitation. Knowing he would do the same for Ginny left him with a warm, safe feeling. Nothing would harm these girls unless it came through Harry and Ron first. He was slightly worried for Ron’s safety, but Ron was his best mate. He’d been with him since the beginning, and though he tried to think in a way that would protect his friend, it comforted him to know Ron would be there with him. Until the end…the Final Battle. Harry shook that thought. He knew he’d be all on his own there, and he didn’t want to contemplate it. He pulled the covers up around Ginny’s chin and beckoning to Ron, the two left the room. Neither Harry nor Ron was thinking that they had dodged a bullet there. They were both thinking of the eventuality of the complete lack of security. They went to sleep without speaking, and dreamed dreams of imminent danger.
“Come on, you lot! We’re going to be late!” Mrs. Weasley shouted up the stairs as she waited by the fire to travel to Grimmauld Place.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny rushed down the stairs.
“Sorry, Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione said, her cheeks flushed.
Mrs. Weasley pretended not to know that the two couples had been engaging in activities that most couples engaged in. If Hermione and Ginny believed that they could convince her that their cheeks were not pink from a good bout of kissing, then they had a lot to learn. But she said nothing as she offered the pot of Floo Powder to them.
“Arthur and Bill are coming in from the office, so it’s just us.”
Harry and Ron both vanished through the fire, leaving Mrs. Weasley and the girls behind. Mrs. Weasley grabbed a handful of powder and threw it into the fire.
“I’m sure you two can manage on your own. You look as though you need a moment to calm down after the…exertions of the morning,” Mrs. Weasley offered a knowing smile and then vanished, leaving Hermione and Ginny looking even more embarrassed than before.
The Order re-convened and, though Harry and Ron avoided looking at or addressing Snape and the girls avoided Mrs. Weasley’s eyes, the greetings were pleasant enough. Then they got down to business.
“I’m afraid, Minerva,” said Lupin, “That we did not locate the locket. We are sure that Mundungus has it in his possession, and we are hoping against hope that he has not sold it. We hoped to put together a team today to retrieve it from him.”
McGonagall nodded, “Very well. Remus, you, Nymphadora, and Harry will retrieve it.”
“Me, Professor?” Harry was shocked that he was included in the grouping. He had thought he would have to argue to be included.
“Of course, Potter. I told you that you would have the services of the Order to back you up. This is still your mission, and I would not presume to cut you out of it.”
“What about Ginny, Ron, and Hermione?”
“Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger have full leave to go with you, Mr. Potter. However, it is at her mother’s discretion whether or not Miss Weasley goes with you.”
Ginny was still avoiding her mother’s gaze, but she resolved to argue her point vehemently later.
“She can go,” Mrs. Weasley said.
Harry was as shocked as the rest at Mrs. Weasley’s easy agreement.
“Oh, don’t make those faces at me, you four,” she said, “Remus and Nymphadora will be with you. I see no reason why you shouldn’t go. Goodness knows, you’d probably sneak out anyway.”
This was the reason that Mrs. Weasley offered up, and though it was true, the real reason she was allowing Ginny to go is that she had finally realized that her daughter and Harry had a sort of partnership. Much the same as she and Arthur had. If she was not permitted to come to Arthur’s aid, should he require it or ask it of her, she would be as put out as Ginny. And so, she would let her youngest daughter embark on the most dangerous missions known to wizard kind. Because she knew it would be far more dangerous not to.
“That’s settled, then,” McGonagall said, “You will all travel to The Burrow where you will await instructions from there. We must first locate Mundungus Fletcher before we can question him. Severus,” again her voice became a degree colder, but she spoke in a civil fashion, “I will also need a batch of Veritaserum. I believe you have some already prepared. I would like you to bring that to me so that I may deliver it to this group before they depart. They may need it.”
The only coherent thought Harry had was that Snape would never make a real dose of Veritaserum. It would be fake! He knew it! But recalling the confrontation the night before, Harry refrained from comment.
“That’s all then,” McGonagall nodded briskly, “Potter, Granger, Mr. and Miss Weasley, Remus, Nymphadora. I will be with you shortly.”
And the group moved to the fireplace to Floo back to The Burrow. Harry was determined to discuss his opinions with Moony about the Veritaserum. Stepping into the green flames, Harry was met with the familiar, yet uncomfortable, sensation that was Floo Powder. Arriving at the kitchen in the Burrow, Harry waited patiently for everyone else to arrive. Poof! Ron. Poof! Ginny. Poof! Mrs. Weasley. Poof! Lupin. Poof! Tonks. But where was…
“Hermione!” Ron had gone pale, looking frantically around the room, “Where’s Hermione!?!”
A/N: Sorry…I enjoy writing the cliffies! Where is Hermione? Review please!
A/N: Hello to all! So sorry to end on that note last week. Some of you have little faith in me…would I put the love of Ron’s life in danger? Ok, so you guys know me! Of course I would! Read on to find out where Ron’s beloved is…
“Hermione,” Ron gasped again. It didn’t seem as though he could quite draw breath. Ginny moved to put her arm around her brother’s waist and to lead him to the kitchen table. After sitting him down, Harry snapped out of observation mode as panic began to set in. The fire remained a warm, orange glow. No sign of green. The warmth of the fire made Harry realize how cold he felt.
“Did anyone see her step into the fire?” Harry asked, trying to remain practical. He needed to find out who saw her last and what she had said when she stepped into the fire.
“We all did,” Lupin said, his voice calm and soothing.
“Ron sent her in before him,” Ginny said in a trembling, but loud voice.
“Right,” Harry said, setting up the facts, “And when she stepped in, what did she say?”
“She said, ‘The Burrow’, clear as day,” Mrs. Weasley said, wringing her hands.
By this time, in the confusion of everyone’s arrival and in the few moments it had taken them to realize Hermione was gone; it had been a good ten minutes.
“She could be anywhere,” Ron whispered, looking sick. He looked into oblivion, not focusing on anything in particular.
“We’ll find her,” Harry assured his friend.
“Of course we will, Ron,” Lupin said, “Molly, Arthur has a contact in the Floo Network, doesn’t he?”
When Mrs. Weasley nodded, Lupin continued, “Then you should go there. See if this friend will chart the Floo Network. They won’t be able to tell where Hermione left from as it’s been placed under the Fidelius Charm. But they can track her destination. Go now.”
Mrs. Weasley moved to the fire when Harry spoke, “Perhaps you should Apparate, Mrs. Weasley.”
She nodded and moved into the yard. Harry watched until she disappeared from view.
“In the meantime, I will go back to Headquarters, just in case she accidentally turned up there. Tonks, will you stay here with this lot? And when Minerva comes, inform her of the situation.”
Tonks nodded as well, and placing a small kiss on Lupin’s cheek, she said, “Good luck.”
“Be careful, Moony,” Harry added.
Lupin merely smiled, “I assure you, Harry, it will be quite alright.”
Lupin also disappeared into the yard, leaving Ron slumped at the table in a trance, Ginny fighting tears in Harry’s arms, and Tonks sitting next to Ron with a comforting arm around his shoulders. Harry wondered if Ron even knew that he was surrounded by people who were as worried about Hermione as he was. Harry looked down at the small redhead in his arms and knew that if it had been Ginny, he would be in the same state as Ron: shock.
Seconds passed in eternities until, finally, ten minutes later—had it really only been ten minutes?—Lupin returned. They all looked up hopefully as he walked into the kitchen, but he only shook his head sadly. Ron’s head fell back onto the table, and then, just as suddenly jumped up. Ginny pulled away from Harry in shock.
“No!” Ron shouted, color returning in full to his face, “Why are we just sitting here? I need, we need to find her! A load of good we’re doing! I’ve lost a good half an hour moping. I’m not gonna take this lying down!”
Ginny moved to her brother, but Harry put a restraining hand on her shoulder. Now was not the time, his eyes told her as she looked back at him.
“Ron, I think we should wait. If your mum comes back with a definite location and we’ve already gone, we’ll have wasted time.”
“Harry’s got the measure of it, Ron,” Tonks assured the shaking, red-faced teenager.
“I don’t care!” Ron exclaimed, “I have to find her! I can’t lose her!”
“Ron, we know,” Harry said, “We’re all worried.”
“Please, Harry! If this were Ginny, you’d have already been out the door! And I would have gone with you because she’s my sister! I’d think you’d back me up here. For Hermione’s sake.”
He was right, but Harry was too angry with his comments to see that.
“You think I’m not worried about her, Ron? She’s like a sister to me. I don’t know what I’d do if we lost her! But right now, the best thing to do is wait!”
“I can’t just wait! I almost lost her earlier this year. I can’t stand by again while she needs me.”
“Ron, you don’t know that she’s in trouble. Maybe she just went through the wrong grate,” Harry said.
“I know, Harry. She would’ve been back by now. She’s in trouble.”
And to Harry’s horror and dismay, Ron crumpled to the floor. Ginny ran and caught him, but no sooner had she taken her brother in her arms, did he pull away, and forced himself to his feet.
“I can’t lose her. I won’t.”
He headed for the door, but Lupin called him back, “Ron, don’t do this.”
“Stay here, Ron,” Ginny implored.
Ron ignored her and Lupin and looked straight at Harry. Harry met the blazing glare and gave an almost imperceptible nod. If it were him, he thought, finding truth in Ron’s earlier accusation, he would have already left.
“I’ll go with you, then,” Harry said.
“What!?” Ginny and Tonks shrieked.
“Harry, really, don’t do this,” Lupin said, looking distraught.
“She’s my friend, Moony. I have to go. If my mum were ever in trouble, you’d have followed my dad after her, wouldn’t you?”
Lupin sighed, “I would have gone to the ends of the earth for Lily.”
Harry shrugged away the strange tone in Lupin’s voice, too concerned with whether or not that was acquiesce to let him go.
“But I cannot let you go, Harry.”
With that, he pulled his wand, “Don’t make me use this, Harry. Please. It’s not safe for you to be wandering aimlessly. You have no idea where you’re going.”
Harry and Ron dug their wands out as well. Ginny and Tonks were shouting in the background, but the roaring anger Harry heard in his ears blocked it out, but when he heard the cool and crisp tones of McGonagall ringing out from the doorway.
“What on earth is going on? Potter, Weasley, why have you turned your wands on Remus?”
When no one spoke or moved, McGonagall sighed and moved into the room, “Honestly, what is going on? Miss Weasley, Miss Granger, I would have thought you’d discourage…”
She had just realized that Hermione was gone, “Where is Miss Granger? And Molly?”
Suddenly it dawned on her, “Ahh, I see. Potter, Weasley, if you attempt to leave this house you will not only have to go through Remus, but me as well. Now, kindly put your wands away and explain what’s going on!”
Harry and Ron stowed their wands, glaring at Lupin, who put his away as well. The three sat down at the table, both avoiding Ginny’s furious gaze, and not speaking.
“Will someone explain this to me, then?” McGonagall said.
“I will, Professor,” Ginny said, “You see, we were leaving Headquarters. Harry left first—Floo Powder, you know—then Hermione, then Ron, then me, Mum, Professor Lupin, then Tonks. We all got back all right. Except for Hermione. So, Mum went to the Floo Network Office because Dad has a contact there. Professor Lupin thought that maybe they could track where she went. Then Professor Lupin went back to Headquarters to check and make sure she hadn’t somehow shown up there. And now we’re waiting for Mum to get back.”
“I see,” McGonagall said thoughtfully, “And she clearly said, ‘The Burrow’?”
Harry saw her starting to follow the same path that he had, and he said, “We’ve been through it all, Professor.”
“I am sure you have, Potter, but if you don’t mind me saying, there may have been something you missed. You are, after all, quite emotional.”
Harry took the rebuke in silence. It would do no good to argue.
“Well, I believe I am correct in assuming that you will not want to pursue Mundungus Fletcher just yet, then?”
Harry looked incredulously at her. Of course they didn’t! His best friend was missing!
“For the record, we have him located. He’s living under a bridge outside of London. I’m sure he’ll still be there when Miss Granger returns.”
Harry noticed that she had said, ‘when’ not ‘if.’ For some reason, this gave him hope at the same time that it annoyed him that she was attempting to speak of the mission when Hermione was yet to be found.
Harry wondered what Ron was thinking. He could all but feel the waves of frustration peeling off the angry teen next to him. And he couldn’t blame him in the least. In the silence that fell over the kitchen, Harry chanced a glance at Ginny. When he met her gaze, she shook her head and rolled her eyes, but reached for his hand. At least he’d been forgiven there. Furtively looking at Lupin, he could not tell if his former teacher and friend was upset with him or not.
Feeling a bit gloomier, if possible, Harry turned back and met Ginny’s eyes.
“Apologize, then,” she mouthed at him jerking her head towards Lupin.
Harry nodded, and just as he opened his mouth to ask if he could have a word with Lupin, McGonagall suddenly stood up.
“Ah, good. Molly’s returned.”
Harry turned around and saw that not only had Mrs. Weasley returned, but Mr. Weasley and Bill followed in her wake. Harry did not know whether this indicated good news or bad. He heard Ron gulp beside him, and he laid a reassuring hand on his best friend’s shoulder. It would be ok. It had to be ok.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Bill entered the kitchen to be bombarded by questions.
“Did you find her?”
“Where is she?”
“Why are Dad and Bill here?”
“Is she all right?”
“Can we go after her?”
“Why did you take so long?”
“Please, tell me she’s all right!”
This last, frantic request from Ron quieted the interrogation.
“We don’t know, Ron,” Mrs. Weasley said in an even voice that betrayed the fear that had wringing her hands.
“Why are all of you here?” Ginny asked again.
“We’re all concerned about Hermione, Ginny,” Bill said as if this should have just been common knowledge.
“Why don’t you know if she’s ok? Where is she?” Ron questioned angrily.
“She’s…well, it would seem that she was somehow intercepted at a grate right before ours. In a place called Spinner’s End. That means, Minerva…” Mrs. Weasley broke off, and Harry grew even more concerned at the pallor of McGonagall’s face.
“What’s ‘Spinner’s End’?” Ron demanded.
Only one word left McGonagall’s lips, “Severus.”
A/N: I am cruel. I know. I’m sorry. I’m leaving it there for now. I love you all. Please review!!!!!!
A/N: Sorry for the long wait, guys. I got tied up with SATs, Super Bowl, work, school play. A lot going on. But, I saw that most were thrilled to see Snape as the bad guy. Now, don’t kill me, but you might see more to Severus Snape here than you really want to. I mean, I hate the guy *DUMBLEDORE, I MISS YOU!*, but read on, because there’s more to it than that. Don’t kill me for my opinion, guys!
Severus Snape stared down his long, hooked nose at the form of the teenage girl with bushy brown hair that was sprawled across the dingy carpet of his home in Spinner’s End. And stared some more. She was unconscious now, and that was just as well. He didn’t think he could have dealt with the situation at hand. No doubt the girl would be in hysterics. He sneered.
“Well, Severus? Shouldn’t you be thanking me?” the shrill voice came from the other side of Hermione’s body.
“Thanking you, Bellatrix? For what, precisely? You do realize that even as we speak, Harry Potter and his band of followers will be on their way here? Surely you had enough sense to know that her kidnapping would spark anger in the Order! So why in the name of Merlin would I be thanking you? This is not as the Dark Lord wished it to be.”
“I saw my opportunity, and I took it, Snape,” the voice snapped waspishly.
“Now, imagine for a moment, Bellatrix that you were to arrive at home after a hard day only to find me in your living room with the unconscious body of one of Harry Potter’s best friends at my feet. How, exactly, would you react? No,” he said as the heavily lidded woman opened her mouth to speak defiantly, “We’ve no time for that. Just tell me how this girl came to be here.”
“I was traveling through the Floo Network searching for a chance just like this. I spotted the girl and before I could think, I had reached out and grabbed her by the wrist. She was knocked unconscious immediately. Being pulled out of your intended Floo path will do that,” she said matter of factly with not a little impatience.
“Will it, really, Bellatrix?” Snape questioned sarcastically, “This does not tell me how the girl came to be in my living room as opposed to yours. This was your idea, and clearly, you wish to take credit for it. In fact, I insist you take credit for it. You can explain to the Dark Lord that the Final Battle is commencing before it is supposed to because you had a whim.”
“Severus, you know not the thoughts of the Dark Lord. I alone know his true intentions and feelings. I brought the girl here because I thought that perhaps you would like to prove yourself on our side by killing here. That and the fact that your grate was the closest one to where I stopped the Mudblood.”
Snape remained eerily silent for a full ten seconds. Bellatrix shifted her weight, attempting to hide the nervousness that had just trickled through her system.
“Prove myself?” Snape whispered in a dangerous tone, “May I remind you that it was I who killed Dumbledore last summer? It was I! How quickly you forget!”
“You had taken the Unbreakable Vow, Severus,” Bellatrix spoke heatedly, “You couldn’t break it! Or you yourself would have been killed! You may not be on our side, but between your own life and that old fool’s you would, no doubt, choose your own. I do not believe that you killed Dumbledore for the sake of the Dark Lord.”
“Believe what you will, Bellatrix, for I can see now that nothing I can do will convince you. But you must understand that you have set into action a sequence of events that will lead to a premature Battle. You must find a way to return this girl to safety. Or risk it all, Bellatrix.” Snape’s tone remained cold and almost indifferent.
“Oh, no, Snape! You think I’d let you get away with letting this Mudblood go? Prove it to me. Kill her, Snape. If you truly believed in the Dark Lord, you would do it on principle. She’s a Mudblood! Think of her as only that, if you somehow can’t bear to kill Harry Potter’s precious friend. The Dark Lord is prepared for the Battle in ways that you wouldn’t dream, Severus! He has protection.”
Snape did not point out that this protection was not going to exist for much longer, but neither did he know how to untangle himself from this mess. It had surely been a quarter of an hour since Granger had been here. The Order would arrive soon, and the confidence that had built tenuously rebuilt between the Order and he would quickly crumble. He had to stall in whatever way possible. But, how to do so without raising the already rampant suspicions of Bellatrix Lestrange?
“Did it ever occur to you in any of your complex planning, that we could extract information from this girl since I am no longer privy to the goings-on within the Order?” Snape asked.
From the look of fury and the soundless sputters issuing from Bellatrix, she had not.
“And I suppose you’d like to do that yourself, would you, Severus?” Bellatrix shot at him.
“Oh, no,” he said calmly, “By all means, you may do it. But perhaps some Veritaserum would help us. I know Granger, and she won’t tell us a thing without it. Go and fetch it, Bellatrix, if you don’t trust me not to tamper with it from the closet to this room. It’s in my potions closet upstairs.”
Bellatrix looked pleased that she was going to be given free reign in the questioning. Snape knew he had to work fast. He had spoken the truth; he knew Granger well. She wouldn’t spill any information—especially if she was only given a dose of the false Veristaserum that he kept upstairs; the real stuff was in the kitchen. But she would blow his cover. He had a heartfelt disdain for the girl, but he couldn’t deny that she was intelligent. She would see reason, and play along with his cover. Then he could find a way to get her out before the Order showed up. That could be any minute.
“Ennervate,” Snape muttered, pointing his wand at Hermione.
She stirred immediately and her eyes came into focus as they met with Snape’s.
“Where am I? Oh, no! No, no, no,” her voice was increasing in volume so that Snape had to clap a hand over her mouth.
“Listen to me for once in your life, Granger. For once, you don’t have all the answers. Listen hard, and listen well. Bellatrix Lestrange managed to wrench you right out of your path in the Floo Network. She brought you here as a test to me as much as a provocation to Potter. She’s off now fetching what she believes to be Veritaserum. It is not. It’s simply water, but she doesn’t know this. She will question you on the goings-on at the Order. Mislead her in any way you can. I do not like you, Granger, and I don’t imagine you like me. But you have to trust that I’m telling you the truth or you sacrifice yourself and the Order. And I have to trust your intelligence in creating believable lies. There’s no time for you to argue with me now. Bellatrix cannot know that I’m back in with the Order, as she believes—along with the Dark Lord—that after Dumbledore’s death, I was cast out. Now, don’t tune me out because I brought that up. There are more important things at stake here. Just pretend to be unconscious so that I can pretend to wake you. You will act as though we have not spoken. Nod if you understand me.”
Hermione looked at him with a hate that usually only filled her eyes when Malfoy was nearby, but it did not appear as though she would be harmed if she followed Snape’s directions. At least until Ron turned up. And she was sure he would come for her. He always did. She almost smiled at the thought, but was jogged back to her surroundings by a sharp shake from Snape. She nodded slowly.
“Very well. I will try not to let her hurt you, but I know you can take it should that be impossible to prevent.”
Fear appeared in Hermione’s eyes for a brief moment, before she blinked it away and lay down on the stinky carpet and feigned unconsciousness. Not long after, she heard the footsteps of none other than Bellatrix Lestrange coming down the steps.
“Very well, Bellatrix, I will wake her,” Snape bent, pretending to perform a wordless spell. Hermione stirred convincingly and blinked up. Staring into Snape’s face, she thought to herself that if she was in this position, she might as well make the best of it.
“YOU! HOW DARE YOU! YOU SHOW YOUR FACE EVEN AFTER WHAT YOU DID TO DUMBLEDORE? WE ALL BELIEVED IN YOU! WE THOUGHT FOR SURE THAT IF DUMBLEDORE BELIEVED IN YOU, WE COULD TOO! HOW COULD YOU DO IT?” Hermione shrieked, not surprised to feel tears spring to her eyes. She reached to her robes for her wand, as she imagined she would have done had Snape not told her the truth of the matter. But she wanted to seem convincing. Not surprisingly, her wand was gone. She spotted it on the table behind Snape.
“Stop shouting, Granger,” Snape said so coldly that Hermione almost doubted that the story he had told her was true. Had she set herself up for failure by believing him?
“You never truly believed that I was on your side. You know that. And Dumbledore’s fault was that he wished to see the good in everyone. He failed to see that I was in league with the right sort.”
“Voldemort, you mean,” Hermione’s anger was just beginning to simmer, “He’s obviously the ‘right sort’, you know. The killing, plundering, the ruining of people’s lives. Those are the things the ‘right sort’ do, aren’t they?”
“Dumbledore was a fool, Granger, if he could not see what was coming,” Snape sneered.
“DUMBLEDORE WAS THE GREATEST WIZARD THE WORLD WILL HAVE EVER KNOWN. There. Is. No. Way. To. Replace. Him,” Hermione’s word became infused with emotion, each one dying in volume, but replaced with such feeling that it was difficult to imagine how hard a person’s heart would have to be not to be touched. Snape and Bellatrix were not touched.
“The Dark Lord is the greatest wizard, you stupid girl! You have no idea what you’re saying,” Bellatrix snapped.
“Don’t you dare,” Hermione snarled, turning to the thin woman behind her, “Don’t you dare compare him to Dumbledore. Dumbledore was great and kind and wise. HE was the best person I have ever or will ever know. And Voldemort is just murdering bast-”
Hermione was stunned into submission when she received a shocking blow to her cheek. Bellatrix stepped back and in one smooth step after administering the backhand, she whipped out her wand and forced Hermione into a full body bind.
“You will not speak that way about the Dark Lord, you horrible little Mudblood,” she snarled, pouring the Veritaserum/water down Hermione’s throat.
“Now, tell us who you are,” Bellatrix said.
Hermione had only ever read about how Veritaserum worked, but she knew that the person to whom the potion had been given went somewhat slack. She looked blindly at no specific point and said in a monotone, “I’m Hermione Jane Granger, daughter of-”
“Yes, yes, never mind that,” Bellatrix said impatiently, “Who is your best friend?”
“Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley,” Hermione began.
“We don’t need the whole sodding list. Now, how long have you known Harry Potter?”
“Has he ever told you any secrets? Fears?”
“Harry has no talent with girls. He shares his fears about them with me. Asks me advice.”
“Oh, no, you stupid girl. I mean real secrets!”
“I know that he’s in love with Ginny Weasley. That’s his deepest secret,” Hermione said, and knew that it was a secret Voldemort already knew.
“That’s it? That’s his deepest secret?”
“AS far as I know, yes.”
Bellatrix swore, “That’s all he shares with this girl? She’s simply a dating guide book for him? That’s all their friendship amounts to? I thought you said they were close, Severus! He may not even come after her. He’d only have to pick up a self-help book to replace her.”
Hermione brewed with anger below the surface. She hated having her and Harry’s friendship demeaned that way, but she fought the waves of loathing. She had to keep Bellatrix in the dark.
“Right, girl, what information did Dumbledore share with Harry Potter about the Dark Lord?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re lying!” Bellatrix flew at Hermione and landed another blow across her face. Helpless even to rub the offending spot, Hermione took the hit with only a wince.
“Bellatrix, you have given her Veritaserum. She cannot lie. It’s clear that I have misjudged how much Potter confided in this girl.”
“I don’t believe so, Severus. It’s just a matter of asking the right question.”
“As much as I’d love to stick around and watch you try to beat the information out of her—information she obviously doesn’t possess—I’ll remind you that you’re on assignment for the Dark Lord tonight.”
“I am,” Bellatrix said simply, “Very well, Severus. Send her back before we start a Battle. I simply took a risk. It didn’t pay off. No harm done.”
“No harm done? You could have catapulted us into a situation we were not prepared for the sole reason of your rashness! Never again put me in that position, Bellatrix. I am loyal to the Dark Lord, but I do not serve you. Now, kindly leave my house. I’ll clean up the mess you have made.”
Bellatrix said nothing, but moved to the door with her head held high in the air. She opened the door and walked through it, slamming it behind her, but still without a word. This left Snape alone with Hermione. She had so many thoughts rushing through her mind. So many questions she needed answers to. But her first thought as a still seething Snape stepped towards her and raised his wand in the air to free her was that Ron should have been here by now. And no sooner had she thought it than a popping noise came from the fire and from within it stepped the red-headed boy she’d come to love. His eyes focused in on Hermione’s bound form with Snape standing above her, wand raised, with a menacing glint in his eyes. And fury filled the room.
A/N: Ok, don’t kill me because I didn’t make Snape evil. I had hoped to illustrate that even Bellatrix still has doubts as to Snape’s allegiance. Anyway, I hope you liked it, and, oh, have you guys seen the girl they cast as Luna for OotP? I think she’s gonna be great! Anyway, please, please, please, review!!!!
A/N: I’ve been neglecting my story. I’m sorry. I’m just dealing with a lot. School, bad SAT scores (eww!), and so much more. On top of that, no Valentine this year. Sad? Not really, I hate the holiday, but maybe that’s because of my lack of Valentine…Anyway, let’s focus on some people who have actually found their true loves.
Hermione knew where this would lead. She saw the look in Ron’s eye as he studied her, leaning, bound against the wall that Snape had leaned her against. His wand was aimed at her. This would surely set off the murderous nature that Ron could rarely keep in check. In a split second, Snape had muttered the spell to set her free. She hadn’t been expecting it, and just as she called out Ron’s name to stop him causing Snape any bodily harm, she fell to the ground. She hurt. She supposed that being snatched out of the fire would have its effects, but now her head was swimming. The danger and adrenaline had left her system, and she was just tired. Pushing these thoughts aside as Ron moved towards Snape, she spoke in a fatigued, but firm, voice.
Ron stopped and looked at her. As she had anticipated, the tone of her voice caused him to turn. He glanced between her and Snape, and Hermione could all but see the thoughts forming. He was warring with fighting Snape and moving to her side. It was a tough call for him, and just as he moved toward Hermione, the fire popped once more and people began to pour through the grate. First Harry, then Lupin, Ginny, Tonks, McGonagall, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and Bill. This was not going to make it easier for her to explain. AS the group streamed into the room, Hermione took advantage of the confusion.
“Ron,” she said again, beckoning to him, “Help me up.”
He was at her side in an instant. She beamed internally knowing that all she had to do was ask for his help, and he was right there. With arms that struggled to be gentle, Ron pulled her into him, holding her close. And so tightly that Hermione thought at once that she couldn’t breathe and yet she never wanted to again. She clung right back as the Order surrounded Snape. Sighing, Hermione knew that she would have to explain.
“Ron, there’s something--”
But before she had finished speaking into his ear, she was pulled away by Ginny. Ginny took her friend by the shoulders and looked into her eyes.
“You’re all right, then,” she said, nodding.
“Hermione, what happened?” Harry asked, standing next to Ginny a look of fierce concern on his face.
Hermione felt the possessive arm that Ron snaked around her waist, and looked from his face to that of Harry’s and Ginny’s. These people cared for her. Enough to track her down and come after her. That feeling infused her with warmth, despite the ache that coursed through her system. She heard raised voices, and glanced past Harry’s shoulder. Sighing, Hermione saw that the Order had closed the circle in around Snape and were all shouting at him simultaneously.
“Listen, I have something to say,” Hermione said, gesturing toward Snape.
“Did he hurt you?” Ron asked, his eyes darkening dangerously.
Hermione would have stared with awe that she inspired in Ron the need to defend, but she knew him too well, and knew that once he started in on Snape, there would be no reasoning with him. She had to say something now.
“No,” Hermione said, pulling away from him, “I need to tell everyone.”
She winced as she attempted to move into the room, and Ron moved instantly to support her.
“Maybe you shouldn’t…” Harry began, but was silenced by both a look from Hermione and an elbow from Ginny, “Right,” he muttered, “Silly me. Concerned for you. Shouldn’t worry myself.”
“Oh stop that, Harry, I appreciate the concern. I just have something that needs to be said,” Hermione said, heartened by Harry’s mumblings.
“Everyone!” Hermione called, but the shouting continued, “Hello! I need to say something! Hello!!!!”
Put out by the lack of attention the Order was paying her, Hermione sighed, “Oh, honestly, they’re all yelling about me, aren’t they? You’d think they’d want to know my story!”
She opened her mouth to shout again, but Ron gave her a gentle squeeze and yelled, “Oi! You lot!”
The noise puttered out, and the group turned to look at Ron, seeming upset that their ranting had been interrupted.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Ron muttered, “Hermione wants to talk to you.”
“Thanks, Ron,” she whispered, then addressed the room at large, “I know you think that Professor Snape had something to do with this…but he didn’t.”
“I wondered when you would think to tell them the truth, Miss Granger,” Snape hissed, “Took your time, didn’t you?”
Hermione ignored him as the dubious looks passed among the adults in the room.
“Are-are you quite sure, dear? I mean, if Severus didn’t bring you here, who did?” Mrs. Weasley asked, still red in the face at the thought of someone she counted as an ally kidnapping one of her children.
“It was Bellatrix Lestrange,” Hermione said, and launched into the whole episode. Once she had finished, she was literally about to collapse, but she was determined to answer everyone’s questions.
“Miss Granger,” McGonagall said briskly, “I need you to tell me every detail you remember about what Lestrange said. About You-Know-Who, I mean.”
Hermione trembled with fatigue, but nodded weakly, prepared to retell the tale. But Mr. Weasley and Lupin cut her off.
“Minerva,” they said at once. Mr. Weasley gestured to Lupin, indicating that he should say his bit.
“Minerva,” Lupin continued, “I believe that Hermione has done a tremendous job just now. Perhaps there is somewhere she could lie down. After all, Severus could give us the account as well as Hermione.”
McGonagall glanced a bit suspiciously at Snape, but nodded, “Very well. Severus,” she addressed Snape curtly, “Do you have a bed in this excuse for a home that Miss Granger and the rest,” she indicated Harry, Ron, and Ginny, “could retire to for a bit?”
Snape nodded and gave the group directions to the upstairs room. Though they were less than thrilled at the idea of moving to Snape’s spare room, they began to move up the stairs. Hermione, however, gave a small, strangled noise and lost her footing all together. Ron caught her up in his arms, and cradled her against him. She was sound asleep before they reached the landing.
Hermione remembered a nightmare. One in which she had been forced to lie about her relationship with Harry. She had been bound. And slapped. By the woman who had killed Sirius. Then there was Ron. Just Ron. Ron holding her. Ron’s chest as she rested her cheek upon it. That wasn’t part of the nightmare, but a part of the dream. The wonderful dream. Sighing, she remembered the feel of Ron’s well-muscled chest against her face. She rubbed her cheek against it in her dream, and found that the hand that stroked her hair was not of a dream. Her eyelids fluttered open and she found herself lying in bed, sprawled across Ron’s chest, his arms tight around her. She saw in the tattered armchair that looked as though it had been partially fixed by a hasty spell, Ginny and Harry, twined together, watching her. Hermione looked up and into the blue eyes that were swimming with love and concern.
“You okay?” Ron asked Hermione, his voice firm.
: She simply nodded and buried her face into him. She could stay here. Right here, forever. But, no, there were things to be done. So many things. After, she thought, after the war was over, this would be all she would do. Just lie with him. Forever. But, for now, there were things that should be straightened out.
“He’s on our side. I know that for sure now,” Hermione spoke into the silence. She knew that these were not the first things that her friends were expecting, but it was important.
She received a grunt from Ron and a noncommittal noise from Harry, but Ginny sighed, “You’re right, Hermione. Doesn’t mean I like him. But you’re right.”
“He’s scum,” Ron said.
“Yes,” Hermione agreed, “But now he’s scum that saved my life.”
Ron stiffened at the thought, but Hermione sat up, leaning against him.
“No, it’s true, Ron,” she said, “She would have killed me, I know it.”
“She hit you,” Ron said, fury rumbling in his voice as he drew a light hand over the bruises that were blooming on her temple.
“Oh, please, Ron,” she said, brushing it aside, “I’ve had worse.”
“I know,” he sighed, “That’s what bothers me. I can’t always protect you.”
“Ron,” Hermione said, looking him in the eyes, “You know what I thought today is that all I have to do is call for your help, and you’re right there. I knew the entire time today that you would be here for me. Knowing that you would try as hard as is humanly possible is enough for me, Ron. Enough to get me through.”
“It’s not enough for me,” he said so softly it was nearly a whisper. They were so close together now. But all Ron could think of was that he could have lost her again. Why did he always come so close to losing her? And before he could contemplate that, she had leaned forward and kissed him. It was a deep kiss. A kiss with so much behind it that it stopped the blood from flowing through Hermione’s body. She realized that she was wrong immediately. The blood was there. And it was hot. She wanted more, needed more. The kiss went deeper, and Hermione knew that if she didn’t stop soon, more was going to happen here than she was ready for, more than she had planned on. And she didn’t care one bit.
“Wow,” came a voice so distant that Hermione was ready to believe she had imagined it.
“Um, hello! You two!” Hermione realized that she was hearing voices. Harry and Ginny! She had forgotten! She pulled away from Ron, saw that his eyes were dark with something that was equal to what had turned her system upside down.
“Harry, Ginny, go away,” he said in a voice low and dangerous with the same emotions and urges Hermione was feeling herself. He moved to pull Hermione back to him, and she would have gone willingly. In fact, she would have seconded his idea that Harry and Ginny go away and leave them to it. But Ginny moved to the bed, and sat right on the edge.
“Well, then, let’s not talk about how disturbing it is to see my best friend ready to jump into bed with a guy, let alone that it’s my brother she’s wanting to jump with, but we have things to talk about. Not to mention Mum is right downstairs. Along with many other members of the Order who would probably react badly should they walk in on this. Now, suppress your hormones for a moment, please.”
Ginny finished her dignified speech and watched as Hermione pulled away from Ron, flushed with embarrassment. Ron just looked disgruntled.
“Thanks, so much guys. SO glad you could put your hormones on hold. Now, we need to get back to the topic at hand. Snape’s on our side. We know this now. We also know that Voldemort isn’t ready for the Final Battle any more than we are.”
“R-right,” Hermione stuttered, trying to regain her composure. How could she have let that happen? What had she been thinking?
“Well, that’s all we’ve learned,” Harry said, trying as hard as Hermione to retrieve some small bit of focus after the mortifying display he’d just been treated to. His two best friends. He shuddered. They were great together, but he didn’t want to see it.
“Not necessarily,” Hermione said, her matter-of-fact tone back in place, “We know that Voldemort’s been suspected that Snape hasn’t been faithful. This would imply that perhaps Snape isn’t being given access to all the information we thought he was. Maybe they’re feeding him wrong information. In that case, we should alert the Order. They should double-check all information that’s been passed along recently.”
“Right,” Harry said, still not liking the idea that Snape was on their side.
“That’s about it, I’m afraid,” Hermione said.
“I suppose,” Ginny said, and just as she was searching for a new topic of conversation, the door opened. Hermione was thoroughly glad that Ginny was sitting on the bed with her and Ron or else she was sure the look on McGonagall’s face would have turned from its expression of determination to one of disapproval.
“What is it, Professor?” Ginny asked.
“Well, I wanted to thank Miss Granger for keeping a cool head today and delivering important information.”
“Oh, you’re welcome, Professor. IT was no trouble at all,” Hermione said.
“No trouble? That’s rubbish, girl! You’re lying there weak as a kitten because of what you went through today. And that’s why I’ve come to ask if you lot are up to traveling tonight.”
“Of course,” the four replied.
“Why?” Harry asked, sitting up in his chair.
“Because it is far past the time that we pay Mundungus Fletcher a visit.”
A/N: OK, I wanted some hot and steamy with Ron and Hermione. So shoot me. It’s because of my lack of boys at the moment. Plus…it was fun. OK, so please review.
A/N: Hello to all! I was sent a bit of a warning about my little bit of steaminess in the last chapter. So, I’ve upped the rating, and I apologize if I offended anyone. I really didn't plan on the steaminess which is why I didn't up the rating. Just to be safe, I'll keep it at 15 and up from now, though. Sorry again. Now, on with the story.
“I really wish you’d rethink this, Hermione.”
“Don’t you dare start with me, Ron Weasley. I don’t care how…generous…I was feeling earlier. That suggestion is so horribly sexist that I may give serious thought to never touching you again.”
Harry laughed at Ron’s floundering face as the four prepared to travel to a small tavern called Hippogriff Hideout in search of Mundungus. But to Harry’s eye, Ron might not make it in one piece. Ginny was looking equally as offended as Hermione, and Harry though he should jump in and right the wrong Ron had done. Harry actually thought Ron had a point, but he knew better than to voice the opinion.
“Hermione, come on. He was just thinking of you. It has nothing to do with you being a girl. He just didn’t think you should put yourself through this after you’d gone through so much,” Harry said, putting a comforting hand on his best friend’s shoulder. Not ten minutes ago, Hermione had been lying in bed. Now anger and determination flashed in her normally soothingly sedate brown eyes.
“Harry, he did not say, ‘Hermione, I’m concerned that you may have injured yourself. And I wouldn’t under any circumstances want you to further worsen your condition.’”
“Course I didn’t,” Ron muttered, “Don’t talk that good, now do I?”
Hermione gave him yet another look and continued, “His words were, ‘This may get ugly, Hermione. It’s no place for women.’ No place for WOMEN! Ron, I am so sick of those generalizations!”
“Hermione, I only meant that if things get really bad…you know, fights and all, I didn’t think you’d be up to it now.”
Hermione opened her mouth angrily, and Harry could tell that this was going to get bad very quickly. He had to usher his friends down the stairs somehow. If they could just get to an Apparition point without bloodshed. Why had McGonagall left them to gather themselves before they had to depart?
Harry gave Ginny’s hand a squeeze, and, understanding in a way that—if he had had time, Harry would have stopped to marvel at—cut Hermione off.
“Hermione, come on. Let’s just go.”
She swept Hermione’s arm through hers and left the room.
“Okay, now, tell me that not ten minutes ago she was all over me, Harry. I wouldn’t believe it right now.”
Harry laughed, “Oh, yeah. She was all over you. And you were all over her. It was actually really disturbing. Did you really have to have witnesses?”
Ron turned red and mumbled, “Forgot you were there…you understand.”
“Yeah, I do,” Harry remembered his first kiss with Ginny in the Gryffindor common room that had been packed with people.
“Hey!” Ron said, “Don’t be reminiscing here. That’s my sister!”
“And Hermione’s like my sister. And I had to watch!”
Ron shrugged sheepishly and Harry laughed.
“Let’s go then,” Harry said and led the way down the stairs.
When Harry and Ron met up with the girls, they, McGonagall, Lupin, and Tonks were waiting by the door. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Bill had left, it seemed. Snape was nowhere to be seen, and Harry pushed the man out of his mind. He had to concentrate on the task at hand, not speculate about the man he hated but who had saved his best friend’s life.
“Right, good, we are all here and accounted for,” McGonagall said briskly, announcing the obvious. Harry thought that it was probably not the time for a, “Duh,” though and he remained silent.
“In light of the events of today,” she continued.
“My best friend nearly being murdered,” Harry thought, “but we’ll just call it an event.”
Harry wanted McGonagall to get on with it, and could not stop the rude thoughts from entering his mind.
“We have determined,” McGonagall was not a Legilimens and so, not having read Harry’s thought, continued without breaking stride, “that the safest manner of travel is Apparition. Now, Miss Weasley, as you are yet able to Apparate, you will Side-Along Apparate with me.”
Ginny nodded and McGonagall surveyed the group, “Now, we have information that Mundungus is at the Hippogriff Hideout outside of London. When we arrive, we must get him alone by whatever means necessary and bring him back to Headquarters. It’s not safe to discuss the locket in public, you understand. He need not know the true nature of the locket, you understand?”
Everyone nodded yet again, and all Harry could think was, “That covers it! Let’s go!”
“That should cover it, don’t you think, Minerva? Let’s go.”
It was Lupin who had spoken, and he gave Harry a knowing smile which Harry returned abashedly.
“Right,” McGonagall said, “Come along.”
One by one, the group walked into a clearing and Apparated. When it was Harry’s turn, he hoped that he wouldn’t find himself off track. He could not afford to blow this. When he felt the horrible pressure closing in on him he was no longer capable of hoping anything. All he could think about was the terrible sensation. When it abated, he opened his eyes slowly, and saw a sign swinging in front of him. It was in terrible shape with large chunks missing and deep grooves in the wood. It read “H PPOGR FF HID O T”.
Harry supposed that at one point in time, it had said, “Hippogriff Hideout,” but he couldn’t imagine how long ago that must have been. He heard his name being called and was jolted from the sight. Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Lupin were waiting by the door and a loud CRACK had him jumping just in time for Tonks to appear where Harry had just been. McGonagall followed soon after, and the group of seven moved cautiously into a room filled with dingy tables and a horrid smell. Through the smog, Harry immediately zoned in on the form of Mundungus Fletcher slumped at a table by himself. Harry noted that at least he wasn’t peddling other stolen goods right now. They all walked to the back of the room. Mundungus saw them all and with a wary look in his eyes, he gave an attempt at a nonchalant smile.
“ ‘Lo,” he slurred, “What can I do ye for?”
“Mundungus,” McGonagall said in her best authority figure voice, “I advise that you come with us.”
“Come with you? For what?” he adopted a confused expression and with a speed that shocked all present, he bolted from the table.
They hadn’t expected that and had not cornered Mundungus yet. Just when Harry thought that they would have to track the man forever before they had him cornered, he heard a shouted spell and Mundungus found himself not only bound, but floating in the air, frozen in place.
“Nice work, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said.
“Thank you, Professor,” Hermione said, and, throwing a look at Ron, added, “I’m just so glad that there wasn’t a fight. My female status might have caused me to be slow.”
Ron blushed red, and McGonagall said, “Yes, yes, relationship problems later, Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley. Right now, we have to get him to Headquarters.”
Lupin wandered to the bartender and spoke with him for a moment. He met the group outside, as they all stood watching Mundungus suspended in midair, unable to move or speak.
“You took care of it, Remus?”
“I explained that he was not able to pay the bill and that he was in deep trouble with the Ministry and was expected at his hearing.”
“But, Mundungus isn’t supposed to be at a hearing,” Ron said, confused.
“Really, Ron!” Hermione snapped, “Keep up! It was an excuse!”
“Oh,” Ron mumbled, looking at the ground.
“Now, I’ll take Mundungus back with me,” McGonagall said, ignoring Ron and Hermione. Harry thought that she was beginning to learn what it had taken Harry a year to learn: Ron and Hermione sniped at each other as often as they drew breath.
Everyone took turns Apparating, and ended up on Grimmauld Place. Harry practiced the familiar routine of thinking, “Number Twelve Grimmauld Place,” and it appeared. He walked inside and waited as the entire group converged. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were waiting in the foyer by the time Harry came in. They were told that Bill had to get home to Fleur. Finally, the whole group was there and they moved Mundungus’s still form into the meeting room. McGonagall unbound and then rebound him to a chair in the blink of an eye. Harry thought to himself that this whole thing was going far too easily. They had had only one near miss. Things were bound to get rocky soon.
Apparently Ginny was thinking along the same lines. She slipped her hand into Harry’s and whispered into his ear, “This is way too easy. Something’s wrong here.”
Harry just nodded. He figured he’d leave the interrogation to McGonagall, Lupin, and Tonks. He, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione remained in the back of the room, unable to hear. Harry thought that this was best, because he was bound to lose his temper when presented with the topic of Sirius’s possessions. His friends seemed to understand, and even Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, watching from the other corner of the room, failed to question Harry’s lack of involvement in the interrogation.
“You’re right, Ginny,” Hermione said, “I feel like this is going to backfire on us.”
“Yeah, I feel it too,” Ron said.
“What, Ron? Not too ‘Woman’s Intuition’ for you?” Hermione snapped.
She and Ron were standing a full foot from one another on the other side of Harry.
“Hermione, you proved your point, all right! I just had your best interests at heart!”
“Oh, please, Ron. You wanted to lord over me the fact that you’re ‘All Male’ and the little woman had no place in a bar where a fight could break out.”
Ron laughed, surprising Hermione—and Harry and Ginny as well.
“Hermione, we’ll be married forty years, and you still won’t be the ‘little woman’. It’s just not in the cards for you.”
Hermione was so stunned. Here was not a statement that said ‘if’ but ‘when’. She had no time to ask him about the certainty of the marriage he spoke of. McGonagall was back. Mundungus was looking thoroughly miserable, and the Weasleys headed over as well. By the expression on McGonagall’s face, Harry felt all thoughts of his friends’ relationship slip from his mind. The news was not going to be good.
“I’m afraid it’s not good news,” McGonagall said.
“Surprise, surprise,” Harry mumbled.
“Yes, it did seem too easy,” McGonagall said as Lupin and Tonks joined the pow-wow.
“We established that, yeah,” Harry said testily, “What did he say? Does he have the locket?”
“Well the bad news is that he sold it,” McGonagall said.
Harry and Ron swore so badly that they both received admonishment from Hermione and Mrs. Weasley. They looked expectantly at Ginny for a minute, but she shrugged, “I was thinking it in my head. It’d be pretty hypocritical for me to yell at you two.”
Harry would have admired her at any other time, but at the moment, he was wondering what they were to do.
“You said that like there’s good news too,” Hermione prompted.
“There is,” Tonks said with a smile.
“We know who he sold it to. It’s not a name you’ll know,” Lupin said, “A man called Dycott bought it. Bernard Dycott is not a good wizard. He’s just managed to stay under the Ministry’s radar. But he’s stingy and he collects dark artifacts. He’s not going to give up the locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin without a fight.”
“Then we’ll have to put up a fight,” Harry said, “Let’s go.”
“Mr. Potter,” McGonagall sighed, “I realize that this statement will not bode well with you, as I’ve seen how you’ve reacted to it before. It will have to wait until tomorrow. I have lessons to finish up and this needs proper planning. None of us know Dycott well enough to drop in on him, you know. We have to have a plan. So go home. Sleep. Rest. Prepare.”
For once, Harry nodded. He was tired, and he was beginning to think that he would never ever be any closer to defeating Voldemort. As McGonagall bid them farewell, Lupin and Tonks followed suit.
“Cheer up there, Harry. We’ll get it back,” Tonks said in parting.
“Don’t lose heart. These things take time,” Lupin said.
“Sure,” Harry thought, “If I hear one more stupid encouragement. ‘These things take time.’ ‘Cheer up.’ ‘It’ll all work out with proper planning.’ Ugh!”
“And now you want nothing more than to stop hearing all of these encouragements,” Lupin said, and at Harry’s look of shock said, “You’re face is as easy to read as James’s was, Harry. Just…hang in there.”
Harry nodded as he and Tonks left hand in hand. He looked at Ginny, whose hand he held in his own and at Hermione—studying Ron with an intense look of scrutiny—and Ron. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley began to shepard them from the room. Harry actually felt as though he could sleep for a year. He was so tired of dead ends. Maybe tomorrow would yield some result.
A/N: OK, so, there it is. I’m so tired! But I wanted to get this up. And I really do, eventually, want to bring up marriage with Ron and Hermione. But not now. That’s why I throw those random things in there. They’re really fun. But…anyway. Please review!!!! Please!!!!
A/N: All right, so here’s Chapter Twenty-eight. I know I’ve lost many of my readers, but I’d like to genuinely thank those of you insane enough to stick it out with me. I’m looking at this being something like a Thirty-Five chapter story, but we’ll just go with the flow. Now, on with the chapter.
“Right, now, I’ve stopped here to review the plan.”
Harry rolled his eyes, and received an elbow in the ribs from Ginny and a glance that was half amused half remonstrating from Lupin, who was speaking to the group on a street lined with bright, cookie cutter houses shimmering in the sunlight of noon. Ginny stood next to Harry on one side, Ron on the other with Hermione by his side. Tonks stood in front of them as Lupin’s right hand man—woman. McGonagall was not with them to visit the man called Bernard Dycott. The group had been told the plan many times. They were to be wary of Dycott’s charms—as if a man who collected Dark artifacts had any charm—and question him about buying back the locket.
“The plan must be stuck to at all times, Harry. I must go over it once more. Bear with me,” Lupin said with a small smile.
“Harry’s got a point, Remus,” Tonks said, laying a hand on his arm, “We’ve heard the plan a million times. How bad can this guy be?”
“None of you have met this man. I’ve never met him either, but I know what to expect. This man is no Death Eater. He’s on no one’s side, save his own. But that means he will go to any lengths to protect himself and his interests—in this case, the locket. And there’s something else to consider. He’s no old geezer. He’s--”
“All right, already! We’ll deal with it as it comes,” Harry said impatiently.
Lupin held back the chuckle that so longed to escape, but muttered, “More and more like James every day.”
Harry smiled, “Good to hear. Now, let’s get this Horcrux! It’s been long enough.”
Lupin nodded. He’d tried to warn them, hadn’t he? But, all the same, he knew that there would be problems. They didn’t know of Dycott’s charm. He did.
“It would be to our advantage if you lot were the first thing he sees when he opens the door. He’ll be intrigued with Harry and…interested in speaking with the girls. So! Knock away!”
Ron and Harry didn’t have time to puzzle out the statement about the girls, but simply looked at one another and shrugged. This was too important for them to be analytical of irrelevant aspects. Harry raised his right hand to knock, feeling Ginny’s comforting form at his left. He knocked soundly and as he heard footsteps approach the door, he resolved to blow past this old man and retrieve the thing he so desperately needed. The door opened and Harry’s mouth dropped in shock.
Standing before him was not a man crippled with evil and age. The man standing in the doorway was the best looking man Harry had ever seen. Tall, with a shocking head of golden hair, cornflower blue eyes, tanned skin, and a stunning smile, Harry thought that if illustrations for fairy princes could come alive they would look like this man.
“Bloody hell,” Ron muttered darkly.
Harry was thinking along the same lines. This was so not good. He felt rather than saw Ginny lean forward to see Hermione on the other side of Ron and share a brief appreciative glance.
“Can I help you?” Dycott asked in a pleasant, deep voice. Harry would not be taken in by the kind tone, “By Merlin! It’s Harry Potter!”
Harry usually found it grating the way people exclaimed over his identity. He was usually thinking, “Well, yes, I know that! As it’s me you’re talking about. But if I ever forget, I’ll just come see you and you can shout out my name.” Instead, he had to ignore the genuinely interested and not at all grating way in which Dycott had stated the obvious. Dycott collected Dark artifacts! There could be no good in him!
“Yeah, I am,” Harry said, with a determined bitterness in his voice, “We’d like to see about buying an artifact from you.”
“From me? Well, how about that? Come on in, and introduce me to these lovely ladies!” Dycott took both Hermione and Ginny by the hands and led them into the house first.
Lupin was hiding a wry smile as he followed a very angry Ron and a bewildered Harry into the house. Tonks was giggling beside him.
“Oh, I reckon this might be more fun than I’d thought, eh?” Tonks whispered.
“Don’t be too amused. We can’t lose sight of our goal. He’s a charmer, but he’s shrewd and very intelligent. And he only has his own interests in mind. Though he’s a bit short-sighted when it comes to women.”
Tonks laughed, “So you threw a couple of teenage girls into the pit, did you? Tactful, Remus.”
Lupin shrugged, “You know that I don’t believe they’re in any real danger, Nymphadora, or I wouldn’t have let them come. But I believed that their presence and yours too, dear, would be a help.”
“Wow,” Tonks murmured, briefly forgetting that she was scolding her boyfriend as she beheld the elegantly furnished house they’d just entered.
Dycott was speaking to Hermione and Ginny, who were both giggling in a very atypical manner. Harry and Ron hovered just behind them as they were led into the sitting room.
“Please,” Dycott said with a smile meant to disarm, “sit. Make yourselves comfortable while we get to know each other. Getting to know a person—or people—before doing business with him—or them—is always the best policy in my book.”
He settled himself comfortably between Hermione and Ginny on a small loveseat leaving no room for any of the others. Hermione and Ginny giggled again as Dycott laid his arms across the back of the couch, seemingly around their shoulders.
“Honestly, he’d better keep his hands to himself, Harry, or I’m gonna jinx him. I’m this close!”
Ron muttered this into Harry’s ear as the two moved to join Lupin and Tonks on a much longer couch on the opposite side of the rich oak coffee table that separated the love seat and the long sofa.
“I know. I’m halfway there myself. Just keep your cool. Maybe this could work to our advantage,” Harry muttered back.
“Right, then! I’ve met Hermione and Ginny here. And of course you’re Harry Potter-” Dycott began, but Ron interrupted.
“And I’m Ron Weasley. Ginny’s older brother and Hermione’s boyfriend.”
It was said with such menace that Harry nudged his best friend. Lupin smothered a chuckle, and Tonks turned her laugh into a cough. Hermione glared at him as did Ginny.
“Just ignore my older brother, Mr. Dycott,” Ginny said sweetly with a hand on his chest, “We have the same mother, but she just couldn’t force him to learn his manners.”
Harry’s eyes narrowed at the hand Ginny had fleetingly rested on the very attractive older man’s chest, and prepared to speak, but he told himself that he still had to find the Horcrux. Challenging the man who had it to a duel would not be the best way to get it.
Dycott just laughed good-heartedly, “Oh, nonsense, he’s just putting the warning out there. I’d do the same if my girlfriend and sister were as beautiful as you two are. And, please, call me Bernard.”
“Please, Mr. Dycott,” Lupin interceded, “I’m Remus Lupin and this is Nymphadora Tonks. We’re in search of a certain artifact, and our search has led back to you.”
Suddenly all business, Dycott’s smile became sly, “And just what artifact would that be, Mr. Lupin?”
“We’re looking for a locket. It’s engraved with the crest of Slytherin.”
Without missing a beat, Dycott smiled, “I am afraid you have been misinformed. I’m not fortunate enough to own anything that came from any of the Hogwarts founders. So sorry, chaps. Now, Hermione, Ginny, tell me a bit about yourselves. Still at school are you?”
As the girls became enamored with Dycott, Harry turned to Lupin, “He’s lying. I know it!”
“Yes, I know, Harry, but what else can we do? We have to be smart about this,” Lupin replied looking pensive.
“What are they falling all over themselves for?” Ron mumbled next to Harry, “What’s so special about him?”
“I don’t know, Ron, but we’re never going to get anything accomplished with them here distracting him. If they weren’t so giggly, they could probably help us, but it doesn’t seem as though they’re able to think straight through Dycott’s charm.”
“Well,” came Hermione’s voice, addressing the room at large, “We are clearly getting in the way of business here.”
Dycott protested, but Ginny stood with Hermione, smiling and leaning down to murmur in Dycott’s ear.
“Is there a restroom where Hermione and I could…freshen up?”
Dycott smiled as Harry and Ron scowled. Was it necessary for Ginny to put her lips that close to that man’s ear?
“Upstairs, second door on the right. Hurry back.”
The girls left, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief. At least he didn’t have to worry over whether or not the girls were being hit on while they tried to conduct business. HE shook his head and bent to his business. He would retrieve the Horcrux.
Twenty minutes later and Harry had not only gotten no further with Dycott then he had when he walked in the door, he was beginning to worry about Hermione and Ginny. Where could they have gone? But he tried a different tack with the man who had been reassuring them that he didn’t own the locket.
“If you don’t own it, then perhaps you know who does?” Harry asked.
Dycott shook his head, “I’m afraid I don’t. In fact, I didn’t know such an artifact existed, but now that I am, I may, too, try to track it down.”
“Right, well, the rumors say that accrue quite a store of artifacts,” Lupin said, “Is it a possibility that you purchased through a buyer, with a group of things, and you don’t realize that you have it.”
This would be quite likely if Mundungus were selling it. He would group things together without even really realizing it.
“No, I’m afraid not. I catalogue everything I buy.”
“But are you absolutely sure-” Harry began, but was interrupted when the doorway to the sitting room was filled with the forms of Hermione and Ginny.
“Oh, Harry, stop badgering Bernard,” Hermione said with a fond smile in Dycott’s direction.
“Yeah, guys, I think we’ve overstayed our welcome,” Ginny said with a nod.
Harry could not believe his ears. Ron’s jaw dropped. They couldn’t believe the girls were going to ruin this mission all because they were enraptured with the man’s good looks and charm.
“But, Ginny,” Harry began.
“No, we have to go anyway, Harry,” Ginny said with a giggle.
“Yeah, your mum’s expecting us soon,” Hermione said to Ron.
Lupin looked from the girls to Harry to Dycott. They couldn’t very well continue questioning him now that Hermione and Ginny had interrupted and made it nearly impossible.
“Oh, no, you have to leave? We’ve hardly had a chance to get to know one another,” Dycott, rising and moving toward the girls.
“I know,” Hermione said with a sigh, “I wish we didn’t have to go.”
“Me, too,” Ginny said wistfully, moving in front of Hermione and taking both of Dycott’s hands in hers. She kissed him on both cheeks and said, “We’d love to stay.”
“Well, then, do. All of you. Have dinner with me.”
This would be a chance to pump him for information, and Harry opened his mouth to accept the invitation even as he was seething that his girlfriend had kissed the man on the cheeks. But Hermione interrupted again.
“We can’t,” she looked thoroughly remorseful as she leaned slightly forward offering a cheek for him to peck while remaining in the doorway, hands behind her back.
“Let’s go,” Ginny said, “I don’t want to face Mum if we’re late.”
Lupin rose, dazed, as Tonks followed with a smile. Harry and Ron were scowling as they bid farewell to Bernard Dycott. The group emerged onto the street, and Hermione said in a low voice.
“No questions. We have to get home.”
And she Apparated. No other explanations. Ginny took Lupin’s arm and they followed suit. Tonks was next, leaving Ron and Harry to stare into the void.
“They’ve gone mad,” Ron croaked.
But the two Apparated back and bolted into the Burrow to find Hermione, Ginny, Lupin, and Tonks in the entry hall. Tonks, Ginny, and Hermione were grinning while Lupin looked confused. Ron and Harry were angry.
“What the bloody hell were you thinking? You flirt with a man twice your age and ruin our mission in defending him! We have nothing now! Nothing! Because you two were too wrapped up in looks to see the mission.”
“Ron, stop yelling.”
“No, he’s right!” Harry started in, “I was going to let it go that you were so taken in by Dycott. I figured, ‘They don’t get to meet a man with good looks and charm every day. They have to settle for us, so naturally they’d be dazzled.’ But you went too far! Why are you SMILING???”
“Because, cute as your jealousy is,” Hermione began.
“We’re not jealous,” Harry and Ron stated simultaneously.
“Right, well, anyway. Glad you think so little of our intelligence, though,” Ginny said, “It was an act, Harry. We knew he was lying about the locket, so we figured we’d charm him into thinking we were just harmless, pathetic women.”
“I thought it was odd that he’d been so adamant about not having any things that had belonged to any of the Hogwarts founders. I wanted a look around.”
“And through Hermione’s brilliant spell work, we found not only the locket, but this.”
Hermione produced from a bag that she’d charmed to make small enough to fit into the palm of her hand…the locket and…a large cup with a letter “H” engraved on it.
A/N: Two bird with one stone, ladies and gentlemen. I know it’s unlikely that it would work out anywhere near this way in Ms. Rowling’s world, but I liked the idea that someone conniving could be attractive. Anyway…look forward to more romance in the next couple of chapters. And the Final Battle looms as the number of Horcruxes dwindle. Review please!
A/N: Ok, folks, we have two new Horcruxes found as the Final Battle looms ever closer. I realize now that I may not be able to stick to the hasty 35 chapter outline I had set before. It’ll be more…I’m pretty sure. Also, I apologize for the wait. So many issues! Sorry! So, read and enjoy.
“Y-you! That’s the…I mean there’re two!”
“Eloquent as always, Ron.”
“I just mean…how did you know? What’re the odds that…just wow.”
“Honestly, Ron, I risked my neck in there and all you can do is stutter?”
“All right, all right you two. That’s enough for now.”
Lupin interceded as Ron and Hermione began their traditional escalade into a full blown bickering match. The six newly returned adventurers milled about the entrance halls as the sounds of footsteps could be heard entering the room.
“What on earth! For heaven’s sake you lot! Come into the kitchen. Did you get what you…Oh, oh dear. That’s another one isn’t it? How did you come upon it? Never mind. You can tell me over a cup of tea. Everyone in the kitchen!”
Mrs. Weasley had swept through the room quickly and efficiently herding them all into the kitchen.
The group found themselves seated at the table, Harry’s hands itching to hold the Horcruxes. Hermione gave a sly smile and handed them over. Ron sat beside her, frowning as his study of the items was cut off. Ginny moved closer to Harry as he studied the locket.
This was it. This was the item that had cost Dumbledore his life. The greatest wizard Harry had ever known or would ever know had laid down his life in pursuit of this item. This small piece of metal which contained a piece of a man who appeared to have no soul.
“This is his soul,” Harry murmured, “I’m holding it in my hands.”
He grasped the cup in his other hand, “I destroy these, and I destroy part of him.”
A sudden anger burst through him as he longed to simply rip apart the man who had caused so much pain and misery. With a loud yell, he whipped the cup towards the opposite wall causing Hermione to duck with a small squeak as it soared over her head. The cup merely bounced off the wall landing stem down as though waiting for someone to take a sip from its non-existent contents.
“Harry, don’t,” Lupin said softly, “Take the cup and come with me. Come along now.”
Harry was fighting the waves of fury trying to force their way back to the surface once more. His friends looked on in shock as he heaved with the effort to suppress the emotions. Lupin placed a hand on his shoulder, steering him to the cup, which Harry picked up.
“Molly, I’m taking him to destroy these. I was instructed how, but it can’t be done here. Hermione,”
Hermione’s head shot towards Lupin, jarring her tear-filled glance from Harry’s flushed face.
“Hermione,” Lupin repeated calmly, “Fill Molly in on what has happened. We shall be back shortly, and I daresay that, Molly, we’ll be very hungry indeed.”
Lupin smiled warmly at Mrs. Weasley. She nodded in return, “Be careful, then.”
“Yeah, Remus, I’d like you to come back in one piece if you don’t mind too much, then,” Tonks said, sharing a smile with Lupin that could only have been shared between two people in love.
“Harry! Harry, stop! You have no idea where we are going, Harry. You need to just slow down!”
Harry had taken off through the front door, at first following Lupin, but then speeding up to pass him. He wanted to cause Voldemort pain. If he couldn’t do it hand to hand as of yet, he’d do it the only way he knew how. Destroying a bit of the man’s soul would suffice.
Lupin finally caught Harry up, panting a bit, but stopping him firmly by placing both hands on Harry’s shoulders and looking him in the eye.
“Harry, it’s quite normal for you to feel this rage. In fact, there is no reason whatsoever that you shouldn’t want to tear Voldemort from limb to limb.”
“Damn right that’s what I want!”
“Fine, Harry. That’s fine. I daresay you can harness that emotion later when…well, later. But for right now, you need to keep your head. We have to destroy these Horcruxes and there’s a certain procedure for doing so. I am not qualified to do it, and neither are you, so we must take them to someone more versed in the Dark Arts. You will not like what I am going to tell you, Harry, and, quite frankly, I don’t quite trust the idea either. But it’s what we must do. We have to take the Horcruxes to--”
“Snape,” Harry growled, “Why is it always that slimy git? Can’t he just conveniently fall off a cliff somewhere? I could give him a nudge.”
“It would have saved us all a bit of trouble if a giant had stolen him as a baby for a small snack, as it were?” Lupin smiled.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Harry said, calming a bit as Lupin offered a bit of sympathy in opinion, “Did you just come up with that?”
“No,” Lupin smiled even more broadly, “It’s what James used to say about Severus when we were at school. I thought it would be appropriate here.”
Harry nodded, comforted that, in a way, his father had joined in on the insults, “Let’s do this, then, and get it done.”
“You did very well, Harry. You didn’t commit murder, and I only had to remind you once that murder is always a crime. And the Horcruxes have been destroyed. That has to offer some sort of relief.”
Harry gritted his teeth.
“Or maybe not,” Lupin continued speaking in a low, soothing voice.
They had just spent a very tense hour back in a place Harry had wished never again to enter: Snape’s home. Harry had not spoken to Snape once and Snape had been smart enough to reciprocate. Lupin did all the talking, and with a variety of shielding spells, Harry viewed through a fuzzy screen of protection the destruction of two Horcruxes. Instead of feeling relieved, however, Harry could not shake the hatred he had been feeling towards Voldemort, and now Snape. All in all, he was not in a good mood. But, he resigned to the fact that he had to face the others with, what would seem to them to be good news: four Horcruxes down, two to go. And then…he wouldn’t think about that now. He should focus on finding the remaining Horcruxes.
“Put on a happy face, Harry,” Lupin advised, “Or else you will be bombarded with pity and concern instead of congratulations. It all depends on which you find to be less grating at the moment, I suppose.”
Harry laughed. He felt so easy with Lupin, and he supposed he could find a small comfort that he was now getting a bit of time alone with the only other man who had ties to his parents…except that traitor Wormtail.
“You’re right. Congratulations would be better than concern. I can’t stand constantly being watched and asked if I’m all right.”
“I know it gets obnoxious, Harry, but we really just care about you.”
“I know,” Harry sighed, “But thanks for not asking. Even though I know you really want to right now.”
“Ahh, Harry, you see right through me. Yes, I want to ask, but I know you’ll lie and tell me that you’re fine. You’re very much like James in that regard. I’d just as soon accept that I know you’re not fine, so I don’t need to ask. At any rate, Harry, you have Ginny to comfort you. You don’t need me.”
“She doesn’t need to--” Harry blushed as he began to push aside this suggestion, but Lupin cut him off.
“I know you don’t need it, Harry. But she does. Shall we go in?”
They were standing at the kitchen door of the Burrow. Harry knocked and was greeted at the door by the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Fleur, Fred, Angelina, George, Brooke, Tonks, Ron, Hermione, and…he searched the room, but did not see the one face he longed to catch sight of. Where was Ginny?
“Hello, dear!” Mrs. Weasley exclaimed pulling him into the kitchen and whispering in his ear, “You’ve destroyed them, then?”
Harry nodded, and she drew him further into the room.
“Well done, Harry!” George called out.
“Yeah! We’ve not been told what it is you’ve done,” Fred added.
“We’re not privy to such classified information,” George intoned.
“But we’re very proud of you all the same, Harry,” Angelina shouted out, elbowing Fred in the ribs.
“Ow! It’s not me that’s said that we’re not ‘special’ enough to know what’s going on in ickle Harry’s life! It was George!” Fred exclaimed.
“Ouch! Thanks a bunch, Fred!” George said as Brooke delivered a slap to the back of her fiancé’s head.
Ron and Hermione moved forward, pushing plates of food on Harry.
“Eat up, Harry!” Mrs. Weasley called as she moved to talk to Brooke.
Harry looked around the room and saw the happiness and joy that the Weasleys seemed to emote. Everyone they touched seemed to be happy as well. He was lucky to be able to enjoy any sort of bliss at all. True, he wasn’t feeling it personally, but it warmed him to see that those he cared about could feel safe and have a bit of fun. He turned to an anxious Hermione clinging to Ron.
“So,” she whispered.
“How’d it go, mate?” Ron asked, much more calmly than Hermione.
“They’re gone,” Harry shrugged, “I’ll tell you all about it later. Listen, where’s Ginny?”
“She’s upstairs, I think. I’m not sure. She took off in the middle of the story about how we got the Horcruxes,” Ron said.
“You mean how Ginny and I got the Horcruxes,” Hermione corrected.
“Whatever,” Ron said moodily, “I guess she’s upstairs. We haven’t looked for her.”
“I’m going to try to find her, then,” Harry said, “Can you cover for me down here?”
“Sure,” Hermione said with a firm nod.
Harry left them and started up the stairs. As he reached Ginny’s door, he heard a sound more terrible to him than any other sound: the sound of crying. And he knew that he was most likely the cause. Opening the door slowly, Harry moved into the room to attempt to correct whatever wrong he had done.
A/N: I leave it there so that I can open with a ‘fun’ scene next time. I say ‘fun’ not because it’s going to be particularly joyful, but it will be fun for me to write. So, please review, and I apologize for the wait. I’ll try and have the next chapter up really quickly.