Chapter 3 : Chapter 3 - Special Duty Reunion
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The fall sunshine streamed through the windows of the small sitting room. Sitting in a comfortable overstuffed chair, surrounded by scrolls floating patiently in mid-air, Hermione muttered to herself as she reviewed the précis she was reading. Looking up at the sundial in the corner, she shook her head and went back to reading. Without looking up, she smiled and announced to the apparently empty room, “You’re fifteen minutes late, you know.”
Removing his invisibility cloak, Harry shook his head, chuckled, and bent over to kiss her on the top of her head. “How long has it been since I’ve been able to sneak up on you wearing the cloak?”
Smiling, she looked up, kissed him absentmindedly upon the cheek and went back to studying the parchment in front of her. “Almost seven years, but that hasn’t kept you from trying.” Sighing, she made a couple of corrections, and placed the quill on the table beside her.
Taking the seat beside her, he picked up a mug and filled it from the warming pitcher on the table. Taking a cautious sip, he smiled. “Needs a bit of vanilla, but it’s fairly good chocolate.”
Smiling at him, she shook her head. ‘You think everything needs a touch of vanilla. Honestly, after almost a quarter century I’ve yet to figure out your fixation with that.” Chuckling at the look of wounded innocence on Harry’s face, she sighed. “When are they supposed to be here?”
Looking over at the sundial, Harry smiled. “In a few. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get her to agree to take a private patient after her retirement from Hogwarts last spring. I had to go to Hogsmede and personally plead the case to finally get her to agree.”
Shaking her head, she laughed. “The old ‘Potter Charm’ strikes again. I still don’t fully understand why you and Arthur are keeping this quite so secret. I realize that Alastor doesn’t want a bunch of publicity and gawkers, but I’m going to have to present to the Wizengamot for an indictment on Umbridge in the next five days, so the story is going to become public then.”
Shaking his head at the memory of the look on Umbridge’s face when she was told that the crimes she had been arrested for didn’t fall under her earlier conviction because she had only been tried for events beginning with the day Scrimgeuor died until the death of Tom Riddle, Harry smiled. “Oh, we know, but Alastor insisted on some time to recover before we told a certain someone, and I quite agree with him. Once today’s reunion happens, it really won’t matter whom we tell.”
Looking at Hermione with a strange look in his eye, Harry chuckled. “You do realize that Ginny hasn’t quite forgiven either of us for your patronus interrupting the moment like that. That was certainly something I could do without repeating.”
Blushing furiously, Hermione shook her head. “Just be thankful that one can’t see through a patronus’ eyes, or I’d never be able to look the two of you in the face again. Honestly, in the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday?”
Blushing in return, Harry closed his eyes and tried to rid his mind of that particular memory. “It was bad enough Starlight came barreling into the laundry room without warning. But when I tried to ignore her, hearing your very distinctive voice say “If you don’t stop that this second, I’m going to inform Molly exactly what you get up to with her only daughter” quite spoiled the moment, thank you very much.”
Shaking his head at the very un-Hermioneish giggles that were coming from the witch beside him, Harry opened his eyes and sighed. “Of course, to make matters worse, as soon as she started giving me the message you did send, I went into auror mode and began making preparations to leave.” Shaking his head at the temper of Ginevra Potter, nee Weasley, he shuddered. “The only thing that saved both of us is when I told her who ‘Speke forty-seven’ was. She’s almost forgiven us since it was Mad-eye.”
Smiling sympathetically at her best friend, she could well imagine the grief he was getting from his mercurial spouse. “Harry, I’ll apologize again to her, if it will help.” Seeing him slowly shake his head, she shrugged her shoulders. “It can’t be as bad as when she found out that her second son was actually named ‘Albus Severus’.” Seeing the pained look on Harry’s face, she shook her head in amazement.
Grinning, Harry nodded. “Worse. And I still say since she witnessed and signed the naming parchment, it’s not totally my fault. She had never actually said ‘no’ to naming him that before we went to the hospital. She always said ‘we’ll discuss it later’. How was I supposed to know they had given her a double dose of that one potion when I asked her about it after the delivery? No one tells expectant fathers that there is even such a thing as a Draught of Suggestiveness.”
Smiling wryly Hermione nodded sympathetically. “Harry, you’ve been married long enough to know that when your wife tells you ‘we’ll talk about it later’ it means that the subject is closed, but she just doesn’t want to argue with you about it anymore. And as for the potion, true you were totally clueless about her having been given a dose or two. That’s one of the healer’s little secrets for deliveries where the witch in question has proven to be a bit uncooperative during the delivery process. They always ask the witch if she wants the potion to make things go a bit better. It doesn’t relieve the pain, but it just makes her a bit more cooperative during the process.”
Snorting in disbelief, Harry shook his head. “A bit more cooperative, I thought she was going to hex the entire room into oblivion during James’ birth. I should have known something was going on when she was all sweetness and light while Albus was being born.”
Glaring at his friend, he shook his head. “And since when is there a hidden meaning for ‘we’ll talk about it later’? Every time you tell me we’ll talk about something later, we talk about it later. I’m usually wrong, but we talk about it.”
Trying not to laugh, Hermione turned her face away and bit her lip. “And Ron is continuously amazed that when I tell him that, I expect the conversation to continue at some point. Harry, I think you would have figured out by now that I don’t count when you’re talking about most witches, I’m really not a good example for you to base your behavior upon.” Looking back at him, she smiled as he shook his head in disbelief.
Sighing, Hermione watched him carefully. “Kipping in the guest room?”
Looking out the windows, Harry shook his head. “Too many questions with three wee ones running in and out around the house. She created a separate bedroom in the study off our room. No one can see it but me. Same effect, but less obvious to the children.”
Sighing at the foibles of her best friend’s marriage, she sat silently while she waited for him to look back to her. Reaching over, she placed her hand on top of his and squeezed gently. After a couple of minutes of quiet, they both could hear voices from the hallway drawing closer.
Genuinely smiling, Harry looked at her and nodded. “This should be worth the wait.”
Nodding, Hermione smiled at him. “I know Arthur told us about it, about going to Hogwarts that night to tell her, but it’s something that I never really comprehended. A totally unlikely couple and it doesn’t seem that either of them has forgotten the other.”
Nodding, Harry looked a bit wistful. “Sometimes, two people just persevere and survive until they finally get their chance. From what Arthur told me one time, Mad-eye was one of those who wouldn’t let his personal feelings about someone or something interfere with what he felt needed to be done.” Shaking his head, Harry glanced towards the room where the old warrior waited. “I know what Arthur said about how she still felt about him, but she went and married that other wizard after the Grindelwald War ended.”
Rolling her eyes at Harry, Hermione sighed. “Harry that was five years after that war ended. Maybe she felt it was time to move on with her life. And I’m certain she loved Rudolphus Pomfrey, she’s not the type to ‘settle’ for marrying just anyone. Minerva said that the two of them were best friends in school.” Smiling at Harry, she nodded towards the door. “They’re here.”
Standing, the two of them smiled as Arthur and Poppy Pomfrey entered the waiting area. Poppy was still arguing with Arthur as they arrived.
“I still can’t see why I can’t find out the name of my patient until I meet him.” Poppy groused as she nodded to Harry and Hermione. “This is most irregular. The only reason I’m even doing this is because young Mister Potter here promised me that it would be in the best interests of the patient for me to be his caregiver.”
Ignoring Hermione’s muttered “Bloody Potter charm” Harry crossed the room and embraced the older witch. “Poppy, I know you just retired, but you were the only one whom I could think of to help with this case. The security on this one is a bit tight until Hermione indicts Umbridge in the next day or two, but I’m certain you’ll understand everything in a few moments.”
A look of glee at the prospect of seeing Dolores Umbridge on trial once again crossed the mediwitch’s face momentarily. “Harry, just promise me a seat at her sentencing hearing and we’ll be even.” Nodding to Hermione, Poppy sighed. “I can’t imagine what that vicious old bat has managed to do recently that would land her back before the Wizengamot.”
Laughing, Hermione shook her head. “This is something that just came to light from before the Ministry fell.” Stopping at the pained look on Poppy’s face, Hermione smiled compassionately. “Arthur, why don’t you take Poppy in to meet her patient? That should make everything clear in short order.”
Nodding, Arthur led Poppy over to the door leading into the next room. Hermione cast a discrete spell at the large landscape hanging by the door and it reverted to being an observation window into the patient’s room. The two of them stepped over to the viewing area as Arthur escorted Poppy into the patient’s room.
The bed was turned a bit, so that you couldn’t see the patients face from the doorway. As Poppy set her medical bag on the floor, Arthur cleared his throat. The bed turned a bit and the sight of Alastor Moody, his eye whirling furiously, came into view.
Stunned, Poppy stared in disbelief at the man she thought dead for the past eighteen years. Turning her head, she looked at Arthur with a questioning look as tears began to form in her eyes.
Nodding, Arthur smiled. “We just found him a few weeks ago. Everyone thought he died that horrible night.” She turned her eyes back to Alastor and brought her hand up and covered her mouth as she continued to stare.
Looking apprehensive, Alastor waited for several more seconds before whispering. “Poppy?”
Tears rolling down her cheeks, she stepped forward. “Arthur told me you were dead. That Riddle had killed you the night you rescued Harry from the muggles.” Whispering, as if a loud sound would dispel the scene, she swallowed as her voice failed her.
Sitting very quietly, Alastor watched her with a strange look in his eye. “I lost consciousness after I was struck by a spell when Mundungus disapparated away. I remember falling, and the next thing I knew I awoke tied to a camp cot in a musty basement somewhere. I remember being questioned for several hours, and then periods of noise and pain. Eventually I was smuggled into the Ministry itself and taken to Umbridge’s office. She imprisoned me in some sort of enchanted wardrobe.”
Shaking his head at the irony of having the same fate befall him as when he had been imprisoned in his own trunk at Hogwarts, he scowled. “This time she used a stasis spell on me, so I spent the last eighteen years in some sort of other dimension, once she stopped waking me up every few days to torture or question.” Shaking his head, he closed his eyes and leaned back. “I spent eighteen years, dreaming of you and what I would say if I ever got the chance.”
Moving to his bedside, she gently sat upon the covers and took his hand. “Alastor, a great amount of time has passed since that day you went away.” Quelling him with a look, she continued. “But one thing that has never changed is that I never stopped loving you. The night Arthur told me you died, it broke my heart, but it never truly seemed real.” Bowing her head, she sighed.
“Poppy, can you forgive me for what I did, all those years ago.” His voice rough with emotion, Alastor Moody looked up at Arthur and nodded. Waiting until he stepped back through the door and closed it, he smiled once they were alone and the telltale glow from the observation window faded.
“I was a fool, but I didn’t want to risk losing you the way I’d lost my family. “
Shaking her head, Poppy leaned tenderly against him. “Alastor, just shush. Let me process the fact you’ve come back. Tomorrow will be time enough for answers and explanations.” Smiling, she sighed. “It seems I have a patient who’s going to need an abundance of loving care and we’re going to make certain you’re fit enough for what’s going to happen when I finally get you home.”
Standing quietly outside in the waiting area, Arthur smiled at his children in-law. “I think we can leave him in her capable hands, don’t you?”
Nodding, Harry smiled wistfully and looked at the landscape portrait. “They’ll be fine. It’s good to see those two have a shot at ‘happily ever after’.” Looking at Hermione he smiled. “Now you can file those charges.”
Grinning, Hermione put her hand through Harry’s arm and smiled in return. “Walk me out? I can’t wait to tell Ron about this.” Looking at Arthur, she smiled. “Are you and Molly going to come and visit tomorrow?”
Shaking his head, Arthur smiled knowingly. “I think I’m going to give those two a couple of days to talk things out before we burden them with a bunch of visitors. If you present to the Wizengamot on Wednesday, that’ll give them some time to come to grips with things before the eye of the public falls on Alastor.”
Nodding, Hermione grinned as she and Harry headed for the door. “If you want to come down, Wednesday’s sessions are scheduled to begin at ten, sharp. I’ll put this first on the docket, and present it myself. I might not be Ministerial Prosecutor any longer, but I don’t think Fiona will mind if I step in for this one.”
Watching the two of them stroll down the hallway; arm in arm, Arthur shook his head. Looking over his shoulder at the closed door, he smiled and began to whistle an old tune, no longer quite as bittersweet as it had been that night, more than eighteen years ago.
Let the wind and the rain and the hail go high
Snow come tumbling from the sky
She's as nice as apple pie
She'll get a fellow by and by
When she gets a lad of her own
She won't tell her ma when she gets home
Let them all come as they will
It's Alastor Moody that loves her still
I'll tell me ma when I go home
The boys won't leave the girls alone
They pull my hair, they steal my comb
But that's all right till I get home
She is handsome, she is pretty
She is the belle of Hogsmeade city
She is courting one, two, three
Please, won't you tell me, who is she?
A/N – Follows on the story “The One He Left Behind” The song is “Tell Me Ma” recorded by various artists and groups.
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