All recognizable characters and places are property of JKR and I’m just borrowing :)
Ginny lay awake across the room from Hermione. As soon she could hear her slow even breaths, Ginny crept from her bed and down the hall to Harry’s bedroom. She tapped on the door and it opened almost instantly. He ushered her inside and gripped her in a tight hug. He kissed the top of her head and whispered, “I love you, Ginny.”
It was their ritual. Every night since Ron’s passing, Ginny would come visit Harry before bed, and he would hold her and murmur words of love. “I never want a day to pass that I don’t tell you I love you,” he had told her the first night they cried in each other’s arms.
They remained in the embrace for several more minutes before Ginny pulled away and looked up at Harry sadly. “She took her ring off, Harry.” His face crumpled. He walked over to the bed and sat down, his face in his hands. Ginny walked over and put a comforting arm around his shoulder.
“Do you know what she did with it?” He asked her finally. She shook her head.
“No, I’ve only just noticed it missing.”
They sat in silence, Ginny rubbing Harry’s back in a soothing motion. Eventually he sat up, kissed her soundly on the lips and bid her goodnight. “I love you Ginny. Always and forever.” She smiled and murmured the same and quietly slipped out the door.
As she approached her own room, she heard the muffled sobs. Her heart broke for her best friend. Unable to interrupt, Ginny slid to the ground against the door and let her tears fall as well.
Five months previously
“Your mum isn’t going to be happy about this, Ron.”
“I know Harry, but we’re in this together. With you.”
“’Mione what about your parents?”
“I have a plan, Harry. Like Ron said, we will be there with you, by your side.”
Harry sighed as his two friends crossed their arms in almost identical poses. He shook his head as is if accepting a difficult fact.
It was several hours past midnight, after everyone else had gone to bed. They were sitting up in Ron’s room, Hermione sitting on Ron’s bed, with Ron leaning against her legs, hand on hers, his fingers absentmindedly running over her ring. Harry was pacing back and forth around his camp bed, pausing every now and then to run his hands through his hair.
“Alright. We have two weeks before we’re due back at Hogwarts. There’s no question of me returning. The minute I’m out in the open you can bet there will be an attack. I don’t want to risk hurting anyone else.” He took his glasses off and rubbed his tired eyes.
“Harry?” Hermione asked tentatively, “I think we should visit Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore was the Secret Keeper, so everyone he told including Snape,” Harry made a violent motion and Hermione rushed to continue, “Well, they might know too. But I think we should find ourselves a secure base, a makeshift headquarters.” She watched Harry for his reaction.
Harry felt the different emotions flash through his head, anger, sorrow, despair, and settled on determination. He looked up at Hermione and Ron and nodded. Hermione relaxed and continued on, mentioning several spells she had stumbled across that would help in identifying intruders and setting up wards.
Harry exchanged a glance with Ron and felt a smile tug at the corner of his mouth. He relished the sense of normalcy and allowed himself to relax. He looked down at his watch, groaned at the late hour and laid down on his bed. As he closed his eyes he heard Hermione get up off the bed, murmur some words to Ron and slip out the door back to Ginny’s room.
“We can do this, mate.” Ron said softly as he climbed into his bed. “As long as we have each other, we’ll make it.”
When Ginny awoke the next morning, Hermione had already left the room. She cast a surreptitious glance around the room, to see if she could find the ring, but it was nowhere in sight. She dressed quickly and headed down to the kitchen. She entered to find herself one of the last down.
Harry was reading the Daily Prophet and dripping syrup on the table, Molly was at the stove, flipping several pancakes with her wand and levitating them to the dwindling pile on the table. Arthur was at the fireplace speaking to someone she couldn’t see. Ginny sat down next to Harry and helped herself to a few pancakes. Hermione sat across from her, slowly pushing the remainder of her breakfast around on her plate.
The kitchen door opened again and a stream of Order members entered and sat down at the few remaining places. Quietly, Hermione slipped from the room. She wandered to the drawing room where several blueprints were laid out across every flat surface. Remus was standing above them, muttering and prodding them with his wand.
He looked up as he sensed her presence and addressed her, “Morning, Hermione.” She smiled slightly and joined him at the desk. He motioned to the plans, “We’re leaving tonight. Alastor, Travis Enders, and Frank Caldwell are joining me. We’ve learned that Voldemort is staying in one of these mansions,” he said pointing to marked buildings on the map. He turned back to Hermione and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Stay strong, Hermione. From what we are able to tell, he is unaware of the destruction of the Horcruxes. When is your next mission?”
She answered without looking up, her eyes still trained on the map, “We leave the 12th.” With her finger she traced a path between the marked houses. “Remus,” she said suddenly, looking up, “This is the Malfoy home.”
Remus nodded, “We suspect that is where he is in hiding, but we must check the others, especially for a possibility for an attack.”
Hermione hunched her shoulders, and suppressed a shudder. Taking a deep breath, she straightened and spoke.
“Good luck. We leave before you return, so we’ll leave our coordinates with Ginny.”
Remus squeezed her shoulder and returned to the kitchen. Harry entered the drawing room, followed by Ginny, and joined Hermione at the desk.
“Are you alright, Hermione?” Harry asked, watching her left hand curl and rest on her heart. She sighed and turned toward the pair.
“Yes Harry, I’m prepared.” And technically, she was. She and Harry had spent the better part of two weeks deciphering Dumbledore’s notes, and they had narrowed down the location of another Horcrux. It would be her first mission since Ron’s death, and the inhabitants of Grimmauld Place were worried.
Hermione took another deep breath and lowered her gaze. “I know I’ve been distant these past couple months,” she swallowed hard, “But I can’t bear to have R-Ron have d-died in vain.” Though she stumbled over the words, her tone remained flat.
Harry pulled her into a hug and she felt Ginny place her arms around them both. “If you’re ready, ‘Mione,” he said quietly, “We will go ahead as planned.”
That night, all members of the Order gathered in the living room, those going on the mission were dressed in dark cloaks, each carrying a rucksack. Harry shook each hand and distributed the Portkey necklaces, a clever invention of Hermione’s that would allow the wearer to grab the Portkey and be instantly transported to the basement, which was reinforced with Anti-Apparition spells and wards to prevent enemies from travelling with the Order member.
After the Disillusioned men departed, the elder Weasleys retired, bidding Harry, Hermione and Ginny good night.
Hermione turned to the others and motioned to the library. “I need to check something, I’ll be up in a bit, Gin.”
She nodded and gave her a quick hug. Harry squeezed her shoulders and whispered ‘good night’ and let her disappear down the hallway.
Harry and Ginny made their way upstairs, entering Harry’s room and sitting on the bed. Ginny brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She looked up at Harry and spoke.
“I’m scared, Harry. How do we know she’s really ready? She’s been like the walking dead for ages. I love her, Harry, and I don’t want her to risk her life if she’s not strong enough.”
Harry moved next to her and put his arms around her. “I trust her Gin,” he told her quietly, “She can do this. I'm worried though. She's been so unresponsive, but I know I can't expect her to feel much more than sadness since Ron…” He trailed off, thinking. Clearing his throat, he continued, “Then again, I can’t imagine how I’d cope with losing you.” He hugged her tighter and placed his chin atop her head and closed his eyes.
“I feel like she’s going to just disappear,” Ginny murmured sadly.
Back in the Black Library, Hermione wandered down the shelves until she reached the eleventh column, seventh shelf, sixteen books in. She trailed her index finger down the spine, pulled out the book and opened to the middle. Grinning and waving to her was Ron.
The picture had been taken after Ron proposed. Ron was standing behind her with his arms around her, grinning as every few moments her picture-self would turn, kiss him and laugh. As fresh tears welled in her eyes, Hermione wiped them furiously away.
She pulled from her pocket her engagement ring. Using her wand, she carved a small cavity opposite the photo and placed the ring inside. She closed the book, hugged it tightly to her chest, whispering to its spine, “I love you, Ron.”
Hermione replaced the book on the shelf, squared her shoulders, and walked away.
Obviously I've gone a little off from Book 7, invented a few things, and broken some laws, but for this story's sake, making the Portkey necklaces won't register with the Ministry, and they are able to place wards around Grimmauld Place that prevent Snape or anyone he's told from entering.
I'm working on multiple chapters at once, and I'm so excited for Draco I think I'll bring him in next chapter! If you feel like it, let me know what you think!
6/12: New chapter image :)
3/12: Changed some wording and did a little formatting :)