Chapter 8 : Bitter Hopes
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Minister Scrimgeour held his cup of coffee in his hand as he whistled tunelessly. The day was holding much promise. He nodded to the others as he walked to his office. He paused outside his door as he waited a moment. He spoke softly. The door opened. He closed the door behind him. He flicked his wand making the blinds fly up. Outside the sun was just starting to rise. There were a few clouds, but otherwise the sky was clear. It was the kind of day that made one want to spend the day outdoors.
Idly, he wondered when he could drop by to talk with Mr. Potter once again, see if he had thawed towards the Ministry even a little bit. Which reminded him, wasn’t today Mr. Potter’s birthday? It might be helpful if he sent a birthday note.
He walked around to his chair where he noticed the sealed envelope with the special seal attached to it sitting on his desk. It was glowing red warning him that it was past time to look at the documentation held inside. He sat down as he tried to think of why Gawain would feel it necessary to seal the envelope with a timed warning on it. Nothing had happened in the wizarding world since the astonishing rise of You-Know-Who. That had been a rather shocking surprise.
He was in touch with the grapevine – very necessary in his position – and there wasn’t one whisper he had heard that would warrant this urgency. The glow steadily brightened as if it knew he was sitting there watching it. Probably did, for all he knew.
He wanted to write out that note to Mr. Potter first. He didn’t want to get caught up with business and forget. He quickly dictated his birthday wishes to his Quick Quotes Quill. When the quill paused, he debated about adding a note about meeting with him, but decided he might have better luck seeing him if he wasn’t forewarned, as it were. He signed his name and snapped his fingers for an owl. He tied the note to its leg and told it “Mr. Harry Potter.” The owl hooted and flew out the open window.
He looked over at the sealed envelope. The glow started blinking red and orange.
Quickly, he tapped the seal with his wand whispering more words that cracked the seal. The now blinking red and orange light disappeared and the seal turned black. He pulled the documents out, straightening them slightly before turning his attention to them. If Gawain thought this report to be vital, then he didn’t want to fumble around for pages after he began reading. He straightened the papers again, unknowingly wanting to delay reading what the report was going to tell him.
When no other notices caught his attention, he began reading the report, expecting to find it rather dull. Instead, he continued reading with increasing dread and horror. He grimaced at the end of the report. He sat staring at it for long moments afterwards. How could things have gotten to this point? How did they miss an attack of that magnitude? It didn’t seem possible. How could the wizarding world get to such a point where the Boy-Who-Lived was killed before he got a chance to live? And what would this mean for the Ministry? People knew he had spoken with Mr. Potter several times and had overheard their conversation at Professor Dumbledore’s funeral where Mr. Potter refused him completely.
The gentle breeze reminded him of the birthday wishes he had just sent to Mr. Potter. Given this news, he was grateful he had decided to stay with birthday wishes.
He shook his head. He looked out his window to see the sun shining brightly even though he felt it ought to have been deepest winter with snow several feet deep. Ice should be covering the branches with the icicles glinting in the cold, cold sun. It shouldn’t be shining warmly outside at all – wasn’t it odd how one’s perspective can change in a blink of an eye.
He had been anticipating a rather easy day. Not too many meetings, not too many debates. But now? Now he would have to call his council together and discuss this situation and what needed to be done to keep the wizarding world from panicking at the news of the Boy-Who-Lived’s demise. With more than a little grimace, he reached for the Floo Powder.
Molly was sitting on the couch staring at the fireplace blankly when Professor McGonagall stopped by. Fleur was sitting near her working on a small and delicate sachet. “Molly, dear, I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Potter,” Professor McGonagall gave her a sympathetic look.
Fleur cleared her throat slightly, catching Professor McGonagall’s attention. “Eet ees not only Mr. Potter.”
“What?” Professor McGonagall frowned. “What do you mean it’s not only Mr. Potter? Then what is it?”
Fleur looked helplessly at Molly. She frowned prettily before replying. “Jinny, she also ees... gone.”
Professor McGonagall gave Fleur a hard look before Molly’s sob distracted her.
Fleur dropped the sachet and hurriedly placed her arms around Molly. “Jeorge found ‘er last night.”
“My little girl!” Molly sobbed over Fleur’s explanation. “She’s gone!” She buried her head in her hands.
“Gone? Where?” Professor McGonagall frowned as she tried to understand what the fuss was about Ginny being away.
“Jinny, she is no more,” Fleur said with regret as Molly began sobbing harder. “I was ‘oping zat wee’d be seesters of ze ‘eart. But eet ees no longair posseeble.” Fleur’s face fell before she disappeared for a moment into the kitchen. She reappeared with a cup of tea that she gave to Molly who drank it without realizing what she drank. Molly’s eyes began drooping as she calmed down for the moment.
“Is it really necessary to give her the potion?” Professor McGonagall asked sharply as Molly slept.
Fleur nodded. “Without eet, she ees... inconsolable.”
Professor McGonagall nodded, looking more than a little concerned. “I understand.”
Fleur shook her head. “Eet ees more zan zat, Professor McGonagall. She did not take ‘Arry’s death good and now Jinny’s?” A look of regret passed over her face again. “Eet ees better zis way, for now.”
Professor McGonagall lips thinned as she watched Molly sleep. Something still didn’t seem right. She looked back at Fleur. “Let everyone know I’ll be back later to talk about what will happen.”
Fleur nodded as she watched Professor McGonagall leave, picking up her dropped sachet as she watched over Molly.
That night, Ron and Hermione were sitting near the fireplace after being coaxed out of their bedrooms, thinking about Harry and Ginny. The sounds of two pops caught their attention. They quickly drew their wands as the pops faded away. They waited anxiously as Bill answered the knock at the door, equally cautious though his wand wasn’t drawn. He spoke through the door several times before stepping back to let Charlie and a lady inside. He glanced outside then shut the door quickly.
They waited in silence as Charlie looked around. Hermione watched the lady, wondering who she was. She hadn’t seen her before and she couldn’t help thinking that she might not be who she appeared to be.
“I’m sorry we’re late,” Charlie started to apologize. “We couldn’t get away as quickly as we thought we could.”
Ron and Hermione looked towards Molly who hadn’t said anything yet. Grief was etched into her face. “Mum? What’s wrong?” Charlie started looking about, noticing for the first time the pinched and worried faces, faces of grief. Everyone was there except... “Where’s Ginny?”
Fleur crossed to Molly, hugging her as Arthur cleared his throat. “There have been a couple of developments.” His voice broke as he looked from Charlie and the lady to Molly. His expression changed to extreme concern.
Hermione could tell that Charlie was still clueless. “Harry was killed yesterday,” she spoke softly, though it was clear that Charlie heard her.
“What?” Charlie exclaimed, his eyes widening with the shock. “Poor Ginny! She must be heartbroken! Is she in her room? Should I go talk with her?”
Hermione swallowed hard, but couldn’t tell him. Not when he was looking at her with such concern. She finally looked away towards the floor. She heard Ron try to speak, but the words were caught in his throat.
“Ginny isn’t in her room,” Bill managed to get out. He took a deep breath. “She also died yesterday.”
“How?” Charlie staggered back as the lady gasped, moving closer to Charlie.
Bill shook his head. “We’re not certain. We know she heard the news about Harry’s death.” He paused as he fought to keep control of his emotions. “She went to her usual spot in the forest. We think she went there to grieve on her own. That’s where we found her.”
“I found her,” George’s voice was strangely flat. It had been since his discovery. “It looked like she’d been attacked.”
“Attacked by whom?” Charlie demanded.
“Enough,” Arthur interrupted before the argument could actually start. “We aren’t certain what happened. All we can do is guess.” He paused as he glanced at Molly. “May I also remind you that your mother is already having a hard time dealing with the situation without you adding to the problem?”
Charlie shut his mouth but glared at George.
“Who’s she?” Ron nodded at the lady no one had seen before.
The lady in question stepped closer to Charlie. “You must be Ronald,” she said sweetly, her lyrical voice capturing everyone’s attention, “Charlie has told me so much of you all.”
“Well, I’m certain we’re sorry we can’t say the same,” Fred remarked sourly, eyeing her carefully.
“This is Tamsin,” Charlie frowned at Fred’s remark.
“Tamsin?” Bill thought out loud. “I take it you’re from Romania?”
Tamsin nodded. “I work with Charlie studying dragons. It’s where we met.”
Molly looked up, interested. “You’ll be staying?”
Tamsin nodded. “Yes, Mrs. Weasley. We were hoping I could, but given what’s happened...” She trailed off, not wanting to say something no one wanted to hear. “I’ve not a wish to cause you more burdens...”
A fresh wave of pain washed over Molly’s face, but she didn’t comment on it. She looked around, stopping at Hermione. “You may stay with Hermione in Gin... Ginny’s room, if you don’t mind, of course, dear.”
Hermione shook her head, swallowing. “No, Mrs. Weasley. It’s not a problem...”
Charlie shook his head. “Tamsin will stay with me.”
Everyone brightened as fire sparked in Molly’s eyes. She pulled herself up as the others moved back quickly. “Tamsin will stay with Hermione. It’s not proper otherwise.” She stated firmly, giving Charlie a good glare as she motioned for Tamsin to step closer to Hermione.
Charlie shook his head again. “Mum, I assure you, Tamsin will be just fine with me.”
Molly looked at Tamsin who was trying hard not to smile, but instead trying to look serious. “And you - are you interested at all about your reputation?”
Arthur shook his head slowly as the twins cackled with glee.
Tamsin smiled, her eyes lighting up as she did. “Mrs. Weasley, I adore your son and wish to remain with him.” She turned to Hermione. “I mean no offense to you, of course.”
Hermione was surprised that Tamsin felt like she had to apologize to her. She knew that not everyone held the same values that Mrs. Weasley did, though she was more than a little surprised that Charlie was flaunting it right under his mother’s nose. She had thought they might have used a little more discretion in the matter instead of placing it where no one could ignore it.
Bill tried to head off the situation. “Charlie, I’ll be marrying Fleur in a few days and even we don’t stay together.”
Charlie chuckled slightly. He exchanged a glance with Tamsin who nodded slightly. “Actually, we have something we need to tell you.”
“Oh my... oh dear Merlin,” Molly began shaking her head. “You’ve gotten her in trouble, haven’t you? You’ve made her a scarlet woman! Charlie! I thought I had raised you better than that!” She continued fussing as Ron and Hermione hid their smiles, not wanting to become the center of attention at the moment. However, she suddenly pointed towards them. “What kind of example are you setting for your brother?” She hid her face in her hands, unable to look at Charlie.
Hermione couldn’t understand why Charlie and Tamsin looked amused instead of frightened. If Mrs. Weasley was ranting about the state of their relationship... She blushed at the thought.
“Is your mother correct?” Arthur asked as sternly as anyone could remember. His ears had turned pink as he frowned at Charlie. “Have you gotten this young lady in trouble?”
Charlie exchanged another smile with Tamsin. “Tamsin’s not in trouble.”
“We’re married,” Tamsin stated quickly, taking pity on everyone.
There was complete silence as everyone stared at the two in complete shock. “You’re married?” Molly finally asked in a voice just above a whisper. “And why didn’t you tell us before now? Weren’t we good enough to be at your wedding? Oh!” She began sobbing once more. “You’re ashamed of us! That’s what happened, isn’t it? Ashamed that we...”
“No! Mum! Please!” Charlie interrupted her. “We’ve been meaning to tell you for ages now.”
“Why haven’t you?” Fred demanded.
“When did you get married?” Bill asked, looking at Charlie with complete surprise. Of his brothers, he would suspect Percy of marrying secretly before Charlie.
“June of last year,” Charlie answered, bracing himself for a tirade that never came. Instead everyone was shaking their heads. “What?”
“You mean to tell us that you two have been married for over a year now?” George spluttered.
“How did you manage to keep it a secret?” Fred asked, feeling just a little envious.
“It was hard,” Charlie admitted. Tamsin took his hand. “But with the war and our jobs...”
“That was very wrong of you, Charlie,” Arthur interrupted. “You should know better than that.”
“You should have told us!” Molly sniffed. “After all...” She shook her head. “Very well, Charlie and Tamsin will take Charlie’s old room. Hermione, it appears you’ll be staying in Ginny’s room yourself.” Her breath hitched again on Ginny’s name.
Hermione nodded quickly. “That’s fine, Mrs. Weasley.” She nudged Ron who was still staring at Charlie in surprise, then nodded towards the stairs. They made their way to the top of the stairs, sitting just around the corner so they could listen to the banter downstairs. “You remember what Harry said about you-know-what?”
Ron looked at her blankly.
Hermione rolled her eyes at him then gave him a piercing look.
“Oh! The Hor...” Ron started, but stopped when Hermione poked him in the ribs.
“Don’t say it out loud!” she hissed in a whisper. “But yes, it still needs to be done.”
“You want to talk about those plans right now?” Ron couldn’t believe his ears.
Hermione shook her head. “We’ll need to have our plans ready for after Bill’s wedding, just like we planned before the attack.”
A look of despair crossed over Ron’s face before he nodded. “OK. When?”
Delicate fingers cracked open the Ministry Seal, carefully opening the heavy vanilla-colored envelope. Inside was a simple card with a short, handwritten note.
“I am hoping this note finds you well. It is not every day that you turn seventeen. Happy Birthday.”
A/N: As always, I hope you have enjoyed this next chapter. Please let me know what you thought about this chapter, especially if you have constructive criticism! I am always looking for ways to improve my writing! Thank you very much!
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