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The End of the Beginning-The Beginning of the End by Marc
Chapter 7 : Lost Regained
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 17


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The next morning came faster than anyone expected. By 5am everyone was up, packed, had had breakfast, and was receiving last minute instructions from Mrs. Weasley.

Kingsley sent a ministry limo at five forty five to pick everyone up. The driver went to take the bags, but since each person only had one carryon bag with them, they each took their own bag into the car.

They arrived at Heathrow Airport at twenty pass six and made their way to gate, “13” to board their Virgin Atlantic, 747, flight to Sidney Australia. Once they reached the boarding area in the terminal, Ron and Ginny were able to finally see an airplane up close for the first time. Hermione and Harry couldn’t help laugh at their reactions.

Ron turned to Harry, “How is this thing going to get us to Australia? What does it do? Will it disapparate us there? I didn’t know that Muggles had that type of magic,” Ron kept talking without giving Harry a chance to answer.

Ginny turned to Hermione, “Are you sure this thing is safe? It looks to big too do anything. Will it really get off the ground?” She too asked. Her questions, although more intelligent then Ron’s, still showed her naivety.

Harry and Hermione would only say, “You’ll see” because they didn’t want to take away from the mystique of the type of traveling they would be doing for the next twenty-three and a half hours.

Soon enough, they were called to the boarding ramp by the public address system. Ron jumped in spite of himself. “Bloody hell, how did they do that?” he gasped, “I didn’t know they used the sonorus charm.

“It’s not, Ron, it’s an electrically amplified voice sent through those speakers,” Hermione pointed them out, and explained what they did.

“Harry, where will we be sitting?” Ginny asked. 

“Our seats are in Row 75, seats A, C, H, and K.” Harry told her. “Hermione and Ron can sit in seats A and C and we can sit in seats H and K. Is that all right?” He asked her. She took his arm; she didn’t care where they sat as long as she was with him.

The four friends made their way to the front of the plane. Hermione led them up to the upper flight deck and showed them where they should sit. Once they were seated, Harry and Hermione showed their traveling companions how to set the seat belt to hold them in their place. Ron didn’t look as if he thought too highly of this arrangement, but couldn’t say much about it because Hermione and Ginny were sitting right next to him. If he showed cowardice now he would never live it down when, or if, he returned to Hogwarts.

Within a few minutes, the steward came by to check that everyone was properly fastened in their seats. They heard a banging of a door from somewhere down on the lower deck and felt the pressure around them change a little.

The plane’s engines started to rev up to their taxiing power level. Without warning the entire cabin jerked as the plane started to move away from the terminal. Ginny grabbed Harry’s arm and put her head against his shoulder. “Are you sure it’s safe?” she asked Harry in what sounded like a little girls voice. Harry could tell that she was a little scared, and felt that he had to show her that there was no danger.

“Ginny, we’re fine, don’t worry, Hermione has flown before and she told me that we wouldn’t have any problems. We just won’t tell Ron, All right?” Harry’s willingness to tease Ron helped ease her trepidation at being in this muggle transportation device.

The plane moved up one runway and down another. The Captain came on the intercom system and introduced himself and assured everyone that they wouldn’t be taxiing all the way to Australia. After almost an hour of slowly rolling around on the ground the plane reached its take off point. The four friends noticed that the intensity of the sound in the cabin increased to an almost deafening level.

“All right, here we go,” Hermione said, as the breaks were released and the plane started to roll forward. The body of the plane bounced and vibrated as it picked up speed. The nose of the plane finally lifted up and within a few seconds the four friends had the feeling of leaving their stomachs behind.

“Oh, Harry, I don’t know if I like this,” Ron moaned.

“It’ll be better in a few seconds when we level off. Look out your window and see how high up we are,” Harry encouraged his friend.

“Harry, what’s all that white stuff down there?” Ginny asked. She sat in her seat looking out the window mesmerized by the view.

“You’re looking at the tops of the clouds, Ginny. We’re much higher up then when we play Quidditch. We’re about twelve kilometers up at this point. Do you like it?” he asked her.

“I’ve never imagined it to look like this. Thank you, Harry, for taking me with you.” She whispered into his ear. Harry had shivers run down his spine when she did this and found that the sensation was quite pleasant.

“I couldn’t see myself going half way around the world for that period of time and not having you with me. I’m hoping that this will be a fun adventure instead of a battle for our lives. See, I’ll do almost anything to get you alone, Miss Weasley.” Harry kidded her.

“Ooh that sounds wonderful, Mister Potter. I can’t think of anyone that I would rather risk my life with, then you,” she said in a very sultry, seductive voice that Harry never heard her use before. He looked at her and smiled when she batted her eyelashes at him in a comical, overly exaggerated way.

“I love you, Ginevra Weasley!” Harry whispered to her as she snuggled next to him. She looked up with wonder on her face; he had never taken the initiative to say that before. A single tear rolled down her cheek and at that moment she realized that all her hopes and dreams might come true with this boy she had loved for so long.

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Twenty some odd hours later, they touched down on the tarmac at Mascot NSW, Terminal T1 in Sydney Australia. The four intrepid travelers pulled down their carryon bags from the over head compartments and exited the plane with the rest of the passengers.

They were greeted by a large black man with a very large flattened nose, grey beard, and a sunny smile. “You must be the Potter group,” said the man as they came abreast of him. “Come this way and I’ll take you to your hotel. Minister Shacklebolt has contacted us, and has asked us if we could offer you any help. I’m at your disposal,” he said as he took the bags from the girls, turned and led them through the terminal to the first auto lot.

“May I ask your name,” Harry inquired. 

“You may, but it doesn’t mean I’ll give it to you. You see in my culture to know a person's name is to own a part of them, I don’t know you well enough yet. If you like, you may call me Joe,” he said with a resounding baritone voice.

“All right, Joe, where will you be taking us?” asked Harry while he was still standing on the curb. After what happened in the last couple of days, he wasn’t taking any chances. He felt he was still responsible for Ron, Hermione, and especially Ginny. He wasn’t getting into a car with just anyone.

Joe looked at him and smiled that great white smile he had. “Kingsley told me he spoke with you at the funeral of one of your professors about a house being destroyed,” he told Harry, showing him that he was who he should be.

“All right, sorry, I had to check. I hope you understand,” Harry tried to apologize and explain himself at the same time.

“That’s quite all right mate, I suppose that if I had gone through what you had, I’d be jumpy too,” Joe said in conversation. “We’ve been keeping an eye on the developments back in Ye Old England, if you will. I volunteered to come and pick you up today, because I wanted to see what type of person you were. I’m pleased to say that you didn’t disappoint me.”

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Their chauffer drove them through the streets of Sydney and headed toward the Opera House. He pulled up in front of the Quay Grand Hotel on Macquarie St. The four Gryffindors could see that it was a high class, five star establishment.

Harry got out of the car and helped Ginny get out on the sidewalk side. He took the bags that were offered to him, thanked Joe, and went with the other three into the front lobby. Ron, and the girls stood in the door way and looked around in amazement. “Harry, are you sure we can stay here? I don’t think they’ll let non-married couples rent rooms here, do you?” asked Ron very softly. The girls watched as Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out four gold rings.

“Kingsley gave these to me, just before he left last night, from the Burrow,” he said, as he handed two of the rings to Ron and kept two for himself. “They can’t say anything if we’re married. Ron put the ring on Hermione’s finger. I’ll do the same with you my dear,” Harry placed the ring on Ginny’s finger.

Ginny gasped as he played out this little charade. “I think I’m going to enjoy our time here, don’t you Hermione? Ginny asked. She had to wait for Ron and Hermione to break their kiss before she received an agreement from her friend. The four went to the main desk and asked for two adjoining rooms. The concierge behind the desk looked at them skeptically at first but when he noticed the rings, he turned over two keys for the executive suite.

That first night, the four ordered room service and sat down to a meal of hot sandwiches and soup. They discussed what methods they would be using to find Hermione’s parents the next day.

“We can start by looking in the phone book, under dentist. If that doesn’t work we can go to the city hall and see if we can find them in the records.”

Shortly after supper, the four retired for the night, since they were suffering from what Hermione called, “Jet Lag.” The girls shared one room and the boys used the other smaller room. The boys walked the girls to their door and shared a good night kiss before the girls closed the door behind them.

“Good night Mister Potter, sleep well,” Ginny whispered. 

“Good night Missis Potter, sleep well," Harry retorted. Harry turned to see Ron with his mouth hanging open. 

“That was really weird, mate, I never thought I’d hear my kid sister referred to as a Missis,” Ron said as he tried to shake off his shock.

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Harry awoke the next morning to a soft kiss on his lips. He opened his eyes and saw Ginny leaning over him, still in her night gown. “Good morning sleepy head did you have good dreams?” she whispered in his ear in the way that he had grown so accustomed too.

“I slept very well. It must have been that nice short flight yesterday,” he joked. “Give me ten minutes and I’ll be ready, all right?” He got up and stretched both his arms far over his head. Ginny had never seen him do this and it captured her interest. Since he only wore pajama pants, his entire torso was exposed to her view. She gasped when she realized the number of scars on his chest and body. Ginny had known that he had been injured but had never thought about what type of damage it had inflicted on his body.

“Oh, Harry! You’ve been hurt so many times. I’m in pain just looking at you. Please, just don’t do anything to compound these scars with more, all right?” She begged.

“Gin, trust me when I say I never wanted even one of these scars. What was done had to be done. If that means that I have to carry scars with me the rest of my life, so be it. If it means that you will be safe and no one else will have to carry scars around like this, then I’d gladly do it again,” Harry told her while they made the bed. “If you don’t mind I’m going to take a shower, I’ll be right out.” Harry went into the bathroom and Ginny heard the water start within moments.

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For the next five days, Harry and Ginny went through the Sydney Telephone book and called every dentist and person named Granger to no avail. Hermione and Ron went to city hall each day and read through tome after tome of city records to no avail. Each night the four would get together in their suite and discuss what to do next.

On the morning of the seventh day Hermione stayed in her room and didn’t come out for breakfast. Ginny came out and told the boys that she was a bit blue and didn’t want to get up yet. When she hadn’t gotten up by eleven, Ron went in and closed the door behind him. Harry and Ginny were stunned when they heard him raise his voice and admonish Hermione about giving up too soon. After several minutes of a loudly whispered argument Ron finished off with the threat that if Hermione didn’t come out of the bedroom in ten minutes he was going to come back in and dress her, himself. With this said he stepped out of the room and closed the door with a resounding bang.

Nine minutes later, Hermione stepped out of the room and came up to Ron. When he turned to face her, she threw her arms around his neck and gave him a passionate kiss. When she broke away from him, she said in a small voice, “I’m sorry, you’re right, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, it’s only been seven days. Will you help me again today, Ron? Please!?”

“I’ll help you forever, Hermione, I don’t want to be anywhere but with you,” he said. Hermione stood there stunned and a bit bemused. She had never seen this side of Ron before and she liked it. She reached up on her tip toes and gave Ron a proper good morning kiss. 

Harry turned to Ginny, “and where’s mine,” he asked with his hands on his hips. 

“Oh, boys, they always feel left out,” Ginny teased as she reached up and gave him a very soft, light, and airy kiss.

They spent the next three days looking for Hermione’s parents, but to avail. Harry was getting frustrated because he knew how hard this was on Hermione and felt bad that they couldn’t find them. The four friends decided to go out for a walk to the Opera House, and to see some of the sights of Sydney. They figured that it would change their mood and help them go on with the search.

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Walking past a sidewalk news stand, Harry noticed that there was an article about several deaths back in England from some type of new flu. From the headlines it seemed that it was quick, violent, and lethal. Hermione had stopped to look at the head line, as well. When she went to turn around she bumped into someone and went sprawling onto the sidewalk. A man grabbed her by the arm and helped lift her up. “I’m sorry about that young lady, are you all right?” he asked.

Hermione turned around to say that she was all right and found that she was looking up into her father's face. “Daddy!!!” she yelled, completely forgetting that he didn’t have a clue to who she was. 

“Young lady, I don’t know who you are, but I’m.....” He trailed off as his eyes glazed over and he just looked at her. No one had noticed the movement of Harry’s hand because they were too focused on Hermione and her Father. Harry stepped forward and asked Mr. Granger if he could show them his office. He turned and walked slowly down the street without another word. He led them some five blocks down from their hotel to a row of glass faced buildings. He entered one of the small office buildings and went up to the second floor. Once he opened the door to his dentistry suite, the four friends led him into his inner office. Harry had him sit on the leather, stuffed couch next to his desk.

“All right Hermione, it’s up to you now,” Ron said softly to her. She withdrew her wand and began a series of complicated counter spells and spell cancellations. It took the better part of an hour, but when she was done her father was asleep on his couch. 

After a short nap he awoke, looked up at his daughter and asked very softly and tentatively, “Hermione? Is it you, my baby?!” He stood up and grabbed her off her feet and buried his head on her shoulder. She had wrapped her arms around his neck and started to cry in loud earnest sobs of joy. 

“Daddy, I’ve missed you so much! Don’t let go of me! I can’t believe we’ve found you. We’ve been looking for almost two weeks, it’s all over back in England, you and Mommy can come home now. That’s why we’re here, to bring you back,” she finished as she went into another hug and continued sobbing on her daddy’s shoulder.

Ron turned away and wiped his eyes, Ginny was unashamedly crying as well as Harry choking up. He felt so good that Hermione was able to be reunited with her parents.
The last ten days were definitely worth it. He would have stayed, even if it had taken months to find her parents. After what she had given up and the hell she had suffered through, Harry would have done anything to make sure that she was able to regain what she had willingly lost.

“Do you think you could bring us to where you’re living? We still need to reverse what Hermione’s done to you wife,” Harry finished.

“Oh, of course, I wasn’t thinking. We only live a few blocks away. You see, my wife has always enjoyed the opera and when we found the apartment so close to our office and the opera house we couldn’t resist. It’s only a couple of blocks down from here,” Mr. Granger told them.

They left the office together. Hermione holding on to her Dad's arm, as if she was afraid that if she let go he would disappear. Within ten minutes walking time, Mr. Granger led them up to an older, modest, brown stone apartment building. “We live on the first two floors and your mother has turned the third floor into her art studio,” he explained.

When they entered into her parent’s home they found Mrs. Granger coming into the parlour from the kitchen with a cup of tea. She looked at the young people and stopped dead in her tracks, “I know you young lady, don’t I?” she asked as she studied Hermione more closely. 

“Yes you do, ma’am,” Harry said as he made that same movement with his hand. Mrs. Granger’s eyes became glassy and she just stood there with the cup in her hand. Ron stepped up and took the cup gently out of her hand and led her to the couch in front of their television.

“Hermione?” was all Ron said as he stepped away.

Some forty five minutes later, her mother was taking a short nap on the couch. Hermione and her dad had retired to the kitchen to have a talk about what has been happening. Harry, Ginny, and Ron kept watch over Mrs. Granger. In a few minutes she awoke and looked around at the three and smiled. “I take it that you were successful in your battle with Voldemort?” she asked Harry.

“Yes, ma’am, he’s gone. The danger has passed. You should be very proud of Hermione; she played an important part in his defeat. We’ve come here to get you and return you to England, if that’s what you want? I don’t know if you want to come back or if you want to stay here, that’s up to you,” Harry finished.

“It’s truly lovely here, but I miss England. I knew that there was something I was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It’s strange, even being happy here, I’ve always felt that I was missing something and I couldn’t figure it out. Now I realize what it was, it was the empty feeling I had because I missed the child that I didn’t have with me. I couldn’t figure it out until now,” Mrs. Granger said.

Hermione came back into the parlour from the kitchen and fell into her mother's arms and started to cry. After a few minutes, Mrs. Granger started singing what Harry assumed was a lullaby that she must have sung to Hermione as a little girl. Hermione cuddled up and rested her head on her mother's lap. Once the initial shock of being reunited with each other had worn off the three started to talk and joke around. Harry could see that it was a way that would help them heal the wounds of separation that they had all been suffering.

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Mr. Granger came over to Harry. “Where have you been staying since you got here?” he asked him. “You couldn’t be staying too far from here.”

“We’ve been staying at the Quay Grand Hotel,” Harry informed him.

“Well, I have to give you credit, you’ve got good taste,” her dad said. Upon further thought he turned to Harry and Ron and said, “Why don’t you go and get your bags and come and stay here. We have more than enough room and it will give us a chance to get reacquainted. My wife and I would love to show you around Sydney and we can go to the Opera one night. I know that Don Giovanni is playing at this time and you would enjoy it, I’m sure.”

“Thank you sir, but we wouldn’t want to put you out. Hermione can stay and we’ll remain at the hotel,” Harry offered.

“Nonsense, you’re all welcomed. Why should you have to pay those prices when you can be with family, for free? My wife and I do consider you family; after all you did take good care of my baby.” Ron couldn’t get use to Hermione being referred to as a baby. He had to remember that this was her dad, and he was used to thinking that she was his baby.

“Very well then, if you’ll excuse Ron and me, we’ll go get our bags and check out. It should take no more than an hour. Ginny, why don’t you stay with Hermione and her parents and we’ll be back soon, all right?” he asked.

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Harry and Ron went back to the hotel and packed up their bags, cleaned up their rooms and went downstairs to the main desk. “Do we owe anything for the telephone usage or any room service we used?” Harry asked the concierge behind the desk.

This man, was different from the first man, they had met ten days ago. This one maintained a smile on his face and had a friendly air about him. He checked with the office and came back with the bill that the friends had incurred in the last ten days. Harry paid off the bill and thanked the man for his service. When asked if he had had an enjoyable time. Harry thought for a moment, and then said that he had enjoyed himself very much and that he may be back someday soon. The concierge thanked him and bid him a good day.

Within twenty minutes after leaving the hotel the two boys knocked on the door of Hermione’s parents’ house. Mr. Granger opened the door and let them in. They went upstairs and deposited their bags on the beds in the two spare rooms on the second floor. They came back down and put their brooms in the closet under the stairs.

“All set, your bags are in your room. Ron and I are in the other room across the hall from you,” Harry explained to the girls.

They spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the parlour talking about what they had been doing. Harry tried to keep it light and didn’t give to many details fearing that if Hermione’s parents knew what had happened, they would have problems dealing with Hermione in a way that she wouldn't want.

That night, Mr. Granger introduced the four of them to an Australian delicacy, shrimp on the barby. He augmented this with fresh beef burgers on toasted rolls. Once the first bite was appraised by Ron, he out did himself in consuming a meal. Both Mr. and Mrs. Granger marveled at the amount of food he could consume in one sitting. Harry, as well as both girls, also enjoyed this meal very much.

“Mister Granger, I have to say that you would give my mom a run for her money if we were comparing the quality and flavor of food served for a meal. This is absolutely wonderful!” Ron was almost gushing with admiration.

“Thank you Ronald, that’s very nice of you to say, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I actually took classes in Australian grilling a few months ago. I guess it was worth it, if the food turned out as well as you say,” Mr. Granger explained.

“Sir, please call me Ron, I hope we don’t have to be formal. I’d like to be on good, easy terms with both of you for Hermione’s sake,” Ron said. 

Hermione smiled and placed her hand on his arm, “thank you, love,” she mouthed to him so that only he could see.

“Very good then, Ron it is. I’m glad she’s been surrounded by such good friends while we were away. Although, we didn’t know what was happening, we’re glad to know she was safe. Thank you, all of you,” Mrs. Granger said very softly to those at the table with her.

The girls helped her clean the table. Then the six of them went into the parlour and turned on the television. Ron and Ginny sat mesmerized by the moving pictures on the screen. “See, I told you, muggles could do magic,” Ron insisted.

“It’s not magic Ron, its electrical technology. Where we use magic to do the things we need to get accomplished, muggles use science and imagination to solve their problems. It would take too long to explain how it worked; just suffice it to say that it’s a technological tool.

Everyone stopped talking and paid attention when the news reporter began the next story. There was a report coming from England about a new aggressive, deadly flu. It was reported that some eleven people had died in the last three days. The doctors were no closer to finding a cure or cause than they were after the first death.

After the news, the four young wizards said good night, excused themselves and went up to bed. Harry and Ginny kissed good night and as they went to part, she turned to him and asked, “Do you think my parents are safe from this flu, Harry?” He looked at her, smiled and told her not to worry, it would all be all right.

Harry tossed and turned for some time before he finally got up and went downstairs. He was surprised to find that Mr. Granger was up and still watching the television. When he reached the landing at the bottom of the stairs, Mr. Granger turned his head and looked at him. “What’s the matter, Harry can’t sleep? Come on and join me. I’m watching some of my favorite programs. You’re just in time for an old American western. Did you ever hear of “Gun Smoke” Harry? It’s set in the old west when that country was just being settled,” Mr. Granger explained.

As the show started a man was standing in the center of the street and another man had his back to the camera. The man with his back to the camera pulled his six shooter out of a pocket, on his hip, and shot the other man. He moved so fast that Harry would have missed it if he had blinked. Through the rest of the show Harry kept looking at that pocket on the man’s hip.

“Mister Granger, what is he carrying his hand gun in? I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Harry asked, completely fascinated by what he saw.

“They call it a holster, Harry. Modern day police still use a holster, but it’s modified to be more easily concealed. The old fashion ones were made of good quality leather and had a place to hold about twenty five bullets around the wearer’s waist. If you look carefully you’ll see that they were tied around the lower thigh with a leather thong. It kept it from moving when the cowboy had to draw his gun,” Hermione’s dad finished explaining.

Once the show was over, Harry excused himself and went up to bed. He laid there in bed, trying to get to sleep, but the image of the weapon being drawn out so quickly from the holster kept playing over and over again in Harry’s mind. Finally, sleep claimed him.

The next morning found Harry in his room with a small piece of cloth tied around his leg. He had slid his wand in between the cloth and his leg and found that he could sit and bend his knee comfortably. He went and stood in front of a full size mirror and attempted to draw his wand out with the speed that the actor on the television did the night before. After several attempts, Harry was able to adjust the position of his wand where he could draw his wand and have it out as fast as he could raise his hand.

“Ron, would you help me with an experiment?” Harry asked his friend as he came into the room to tidy up before breakfast. 

“Sure Harry, what do you want me to do? Ron asked.

“I want you to pull you wand out and point it at me as fast as you can, all right!” Harry instructed him.

“What do you want me to do that for? It doesn’t make any sense,” Ron protested.

“Just do it! It’s an experiment I’m trying,” Harry explained.

Ron reached for the wand in his back pocket, but before his hand had touched his wand, Harry had his own wand up and pointing at him. Ron jaw dropped, “Wow, how did you do that? Harry I didn’t even get my wand out and yours was pointing at me,” Ron said in amazement.

Harry explained what he had seen on the television. He told Ron that if they could get their wands out faster, they could be in a better position to defend themselves, if ever attacked.

The two boys met the girls at the stairway when they went to go down to the kitchen. Ginny came over and asked Harry if he had hurt himself since he had a bandage around his thigh. Harry chuckled as he gave her a light kiss on the lips. “Can I show you something?” Harry asked the two girls.

Harry stepped a couple of meters away from the girls and asked Hermione to draw her wand as fast as she could. Everyone there knew that of the four of them she had always been the one to bring her wand out first. Hermione had just touched her wand when all three of them saw that Harry already had his wand out and pointing at her.

“Harry, how did you do that?” Ginny asked.

“It’s this device on my leg,” Harry explained. “It’s called a holster. I’m going to make one to carry my wand in all the time. You can see that by having it there, I can pull my wand out before anyone else can. It may give me an edge if I have to duel someone in the future,” he concluded.

“Harry, if that’s what you want, ask my mother, she’s good at sewing. When I was younger she even made me night gowns and pajamas for winter. I’m sure she could put something together for you,” Hermione offered.

Once they were seated at the breakfast table, their discussion turned to what they were going to see with Hermione’s parents that day. A tapping drew their attention to the back window. There, sitting on the window ledge was a strange bird that kept tapping on the glass with its beak. After a minute Ginny got up and opened the window.

Immediately the bird came in and landed in front of Harry and extended its leg. Harry untied the note that was attached there. The bird flew out of the window and was gone so fast that no one saw where it went to.

Harry opened the note and started to read what it said,

Dear Mister Potter and Friends, 

You are cordially invited to a banquet in your honor tomorrow night at the Uluru-Kata School of the Wirinun. We look forward to finally meeting you. We would like to get a firsthand account of what happened earlier this year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You will be contacted with further instructions tomorrow morning.

                                                                        Hoping that this note finds you well,

                                                                        B. D. 


“Who’s this B. D. person? Is he the headmaster of the school? He wouldn’t even give his name. Can we trust him?” Ron was talking to no one in particular.

“I particularly don’t want to hash all that up again. I think I’m going to decline this invitation and send word tomorrow with whoever contacts us. Thank you, but we’re not interested. Is that all right with the three of you?” Harry asked.

“This could be a way of bettering wizard relations across the globe,” Hermione suggested. Everyone looked at her. After a few seconds, she relented, “well, it was just a suggestion,” she finished.

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When breakfast was over, Hermione asked her mother if she could sew a holster for Harry. After listening to what he wanted. She suggested that she could make a pocket out of a small piece of cloth on the inside of his pants leg. Her mother then made a small hole in the seam of the leg so that Harry could slide most of his wand in and only have the handle sticking out.

Harry pulled the wand out several times and was amazed at how easy it was. Yet, it stayed in its holster even when he deliberately shook his leg to see if it would come out. “Hermione, could you perform the Levicorpus spell on me? I want to see if my wand will fall out if this should happen to me, or if I turn upside down while flying on my broom.

Hermione hesitated for a second, “Are you sure you want me to, Harry?” She asked in a skeptical voice. “I don’t want to drop you.”

“It’s all right, Hermione, I trust you. Once we’re sure that my wand will stay in its place, you can use Liberacorpus and bring me down, all right?” Harry checked with her.

Hermione pointed her wand at Harry. Within seconds his feet where on the ceiling and Harry hung some four feet above the ground. “Wow, this is really strange. You all look like you’re upside down,” Harry observed. He then pumped his legs up and down and tried to make his wand fall out. It stayed right were it was supposed to. “All right Hermione, if you’d let me down now,” Harry asked her. A second later Ron caught him as he fell off the ceiling.

“Missis Granger could you put a holster like this in all my pants? Harry asked her.

“Of course Harry, it shouldn’t take too long, she responded. I’ll work on it tonight. Right now we’re going out on the town, so let’s get ready, shall we?” she said enthusiastically

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The six of them spent the afternoon site seeing and eating in the area of the Opera House. They returned to the Granger’s home in time to get ready for the Opera that night. Hermione transmuted two of their skirts and blouses into beautiful black evening gowns. Harry and Ron deliberately wore their old pants and shirt to go down stairs. When Mrs. Granger saw them she gasped, “You’re not going like that are you?” she asked in disbelief.

“No ma’am,” both of the boys said together. They waved their wands over themselves and their old clothes turned into new, sharp, black tuxedos’ and highly polished shoes. 

Mrs. Granger stood there in her front room and was completely amazed. “I know that Hermione can do magic and I’ve seen it a few times but I just can’t get used to it, when it’s done like you just did it.”

They laughed at the effect they had had on her. “Sorry, we just couldn’t resist. We wanted to do something impressive for you. I hope we succeeded,” Ron told Mrs. Granger. 

“Oh, you did, you did!” she admitted.

Mr. Granger walked into the room and looked up at the stairs and stopped dead in his tracks. Harry and Ron turned to see what had had this effect on him. Hermione and Ginny were standing on the landing at the mid-point of the stairs. Both boys stepped forward and helped the girls down to the second landing. “Wow,” was all Ron could say. 

“Wow’s, right Ron,” Harry agreed.

“You’re beautiful Ginny! I really like what you did with your hair,” Harry complimented her on the ringlet style that she and Hermione had worked on for this occasion.

“You really like it Harry?” Ginny asked with a smile on her lips. Harry wrapped his arms around her waist and gave her a light kiss, since he didn’t want to smear her lipstick for the evening.

“If we’re going to walk, we should get started then,” Harry concluded. He took Ginny’s right hand and put it on his arm, then led her to the front door. Ron and Hermione copied what their friends had just done and followed them. Mr. Granger opened the door and both couples caught their breath.

There, sitting at the curb, was a white carriage, drawn by four white horses. Both girls squealed; the boys just shook their heads. Ron turned to Harry, “I think this is going to be some night, mate.” 

“I couldn’t have said it better Ron,” Harry agreed. “Mister Granger you didn’t have to do this. This is very nice of you, thank you very much. We didn’t expect this at all,” Harry admitted.

“To be honest with you Harry, Mrs. Granger and I, have wanted to do this for some time but we didn’t have a special enough event to warrant it.” Mr. Granger admitted. “What better reason would we have, or could want, then the return of our daughter?”

On the way to the Opera House, Harry explained the carriage rides at Hogwarts for the older students and the presence of the thestrals. He explained to them that you had to see death before they could see what was pulling the carriages. Mrs. Granger turned to her daughter and asked if she could see them. “Yes mom, I’ll be able to see them, if we go back to finish off our seventh year,” Hermione admitted. “I saw several people killed during the last battle; I hope I never see anything like that ever again,” she said, as her voice drifted off with the visions that returned to haunt her. 

Hermione’s dad reached over and patted her knee with his hand, “I’m very proud of you, sweetheart. We’re glad you’re our daughter. That statement put fresh tears in Hermione’s eyes. Ron took out a clean handkerchief and handed it to her before she asked.

When they reached their destination, a door man stepped up and helped the girls down from the carriage. The boys offered them their arm and followed the Grangers into the main atrium of the Opera House. The four of them stopped and looked around at the size and grandeur of the place.

“They did all of this without magic!” Ron said in amazement. “Maybe my dad isn’t far off the mark in his admiration for muggle things after all.”

After a short walk, an usher came up to them and greeted the two adults. He usually took them to their box seats. “Good evening Mister and Missis Wilkins are these young people, guests of yours tonight?” he asked. 

“Yes they are, Jenkins. This is my daughter and her friends that she goes to school with. They’re visiting while on vacation,” Mr. Granger explained. 

“Very well then, sir, please come this way,” Jenkins offered.

Harry and Ginny looked at each other in horror. “Oh no,” Ginny gasped out, “we were looking under Granger, not Wilkins,” she voiced the mistake that Harry and she had made for ten days while looking for Hermione’s parents. 

“I didn’t remember that Hermione had changed their name before they came here. We’re sorry Hermione we would have probably found them on the first day if we remembered that their name had been changed. Will you forgive us?” Harry and Ginny asked.

Hermione started to chuckle, “Ron and I looked for ten days in the City Hall records. We were looking for Granger as well! I guess that those eight months we went through affected all of us” Hermione admitted. The four of them shared a laugh at their ten day mistake.

Jenkins took them up to their box and helped seat the ladies. When he was sure that they were properly seated he bowed his way out and left them to enjoy the Opera. Within a few minutes the curtain rose and “Don Giovanni” began.

Some ten minutes into the Opera, Harry glanced over at Ginny and saw tears coming down her cheeks. “Are you all right Ginny,” he asked. 

“It’s beautiful isn’t it, I don’t understand the words but the music and the singing makes you understand the story,” she said, as she took Harry’s arm and leaned her head on his shoulder.

When act one had ended, Ron turned to Hermione and asked if it was done. “No Ron, we still have the second act to see,” she explained to him. “Are you enjoying it,” she asked him. 

Ron thought for a second, “Yea, I may not understand the words but I know what he’s saying. “Hermione, can I ask you something? They’re not using a Sonorous spell are they?”

“No Ron they’re muggles. They sing like that because they practice for years to be able to produce that type of volume when they sing. Remember, these are muggles, they can’t do magic. What they accomplish is only with their hands and brains,” Hermione whispered so that the people in the next box wouldn’t hear her.

When the Opera ended, the four friends joined in with the rest of the audience and gave the performers a standing ovation. They made their way back down the stairs and returned to their awaiting carriage.

The air had gotten cool and the girls were dressed too light for the weather. Harry and Ron took off their Tuxedo jackets and placed them over the girl’s shoulders to keep them warm. This seemed to make several points with the Grangers. Both parents looked at the boys with admiration, “Many boys now days wouldn’t do what you just did. I’m glad that Hermione and Ginny are with you,” Mr. Granger said, only like a father can.

Some two hours later, found everyone in bed asleep, except Harry and Mr. Granger. They had, once again, sat up to watch a late night movie. The show they were looking at tonight was called ‘True Grit’. Harry, once again, watched as the main actor stuck the reins of his horse into his mouth, pulled out his two hand guns and yelled at the six or seven men he was about to fight. Sometime after two, Harry went up to bed after he questioned Mister Granger about what the significance of what the actor had yelled. Mister Granger tried to explain that it was a challenge to the bad guys to fight.

--------------------

That night, Harry dreamed of Death Eaters coming off of the Opera stage and trying to kill Ginny. He waved his wand and a loud noise blew up the Death Eaters. A hand grabbed his arm and pinned it to his chest. “Harry! Harry! Wake up you’re going to kill someone! Wake up!!” Harry sat bolt upright, and looked around. Ron had his arms wrapped around him in a crushing bear hug. Ginny was crying and trying to get past Hermione and her dad.

“What happened?” Harry asked, with a blank expression on his face. “Oh, no!! Did I do that?” Harry asked, knowing the answer already. 

“It’s all right, Harry you had a bad dream, that’s all,” Ron explained.

Harry sat up at the edge of his bed and waved his wand and repaired the damage done to the other side of the room. The spell he had cast in his sleep was powerful enough to destroy the chest of drawers and blow a hole in the wall between the boy’s room and the bathroom. “Sorry,” Harry apologized to the Grangers for what had just happened. “This happens at times. I fell asleep tonight with my wand in my hand. I shouldn’t have done that. Please forgive me.”

“It’s all right, Harry, no harm done. I only wish I could do repairs as fast as you just did. That was amazing,” Mr. Granger admitted. Everyone returned to their rooms and went back to bed. Harry lay in bed for a long time without falling asleep. He had become terrified that he would accidentally kill someone if he lost control or focus, by going to sleep.

-----------------------------

The next morning, Harry came down to breakfast looking like he had been dragged behind a horse drawn carriage. He sat down at the table and took a piece of toast that Ginny offered him. As they were finishing up, a tapping at the back window attracted their attention. Ginny went over and opened the window to let the bird in. It flew over to Harry and stuck out its leg. Harry took the note, and didn’t even read it. He wrote on the back of it that they would not be accepting the invitation, and thanked them anyway.
Harry tied the note to the bird’s leg and sent it on its way.

Mr. Granger came in to the kitchen and asked what was needed at the market. After Mrs. Granger had given him a list, he headed for the door. He stopped and turned to the two boys, “would you two want to go with me? I’m going to the market, and then stop for some ice cream on the way home.” When food was mentioned, Ron was the first one to agree to go with him. Chuckling, Harry decided to join them on their walk and ice cream stop.

“Don’t eat too much; you won’t have enough room for lunch later. Bye - have fun, you three - stay out of trouble – you hear me!” Mrs. Granger said as they left the house.

“That woman still scolds me before I leave the house. She’s been doing that the better part of nineteen years. I think if she didn’t, I would be concerned that she didn’t love me anymore,” he concluded.

“I know how you feel Mister Granger. Hermione and I argue all the time. I think if she didn’t, I would be concerned that there was either something wrong with her or our relationship. I do love her sir,” Ron admitted it to Mr. Granger and himself. Mr. Granger patted him on the shoulder in a good imitation of what his father would have done.

Ron enjoyed going to the supermarket for the first time. He went to take a bite of fruit, at first, until Harry stopped him. “You have to pay for it first, Ron or it’s considered stealing,” Harry admonished him.

“This is incredible, Harry. I’ve never seen this much food in one place at one time. Is it always like this?” Ron asked no one in particular. 

“This is the way it is all the time Ron. They bring food in each day so that the shoppers have a good selection to choose from,” Mr. Granger explained.

The three men stopped at the local ice cream shop and enjoyed a sample of several different flavors. Harry noticed a small boy standing off on the side of the building. “Is there a problem?” he asked the boy gently.

“No sir, I just don’t have enough to get a cone,” the boy said in a dejected way. Harry called him over and shook hands with him. When the boy pulled his hand away he had enough money in his hand to get a good size cone for the next three days. Harry brought his finger up to his lips to signal to the boy to be quiet about what just happened. “Thank you sir,” the boy said as he ran to the service window for his cone of ice cream.

Mr. Granger chuckled at what Harry had just done. “You have a good heart Harry. I can see why Hermione would want to be such good friends with the two of you. Thank you again for bringing my baby back to me.”

The three men continued their leisurely stroll back to the apartment. When they came close enough to see the front door, Harry noticed that it stood ajar.
 
 
 


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