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Chapter 5 : Four Years Later
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“We were given direct orders mate! This is unauthorized!”
“Damn him, always trying to play superhero.”
“Well, he is Harry Potter isn’t he? That probably entitles him to some super heroism.”
Harry ignored the four other aurors-in -training around him and pressed forward towards the abandoned warehouse situated not forty feet from them. The forest was thick surrounding the building and Harry had done enough waiting. Holding his wand high and lit above him, he moved in, as the trainees followed hesitantly behind.
Once he reached the building, Harry kicked the door down and entered quickly and murmured the necessary spells.
“Shit,” he murmured, running his fist into the wall nearest to him. The place was deserted.
“What are we even looking for?” asked Franklin Calvert, a small but quick brown-haired auror trainee. He looked to the other aurors on his team. “Maybe we should quit following him on these unauthorized raids-“
“Shut the hell up and secure the damn building,” Harry told the others. He checked his watch. It read twenty minutes after two in the morning. Ginny was going to be pissed at him. While the others secured the building, Harry pulled out a small map from his pocket and marked the location off the list. The more places they tried, the fuzzier the trail got. Harry had been searching for his best mate for years, and in the last couple of months had finally run into what was turning into a bunch of dead ends. Whoever was behind Ron’s disappearance was doing a solid job of cleaning up and covering their tracks. Harry was always one step too many behind to find them. Since the war he had put away numerous Death Eaters and other criminals, but was still unable to locate Ron. That single failure haunted him every time he spent time with the Weasley’s or Hermione, who were still trying to move past the pain.
“Potter, we’re going to get out of here,” Calvert started after they’d finished securing the building.
“But we wanted you to know that if you keep taking us on these side-trips that have nothing to do with our current cases and refuse to tell us what exactly we’re doing, we’re going to take it up with Gordon,” explained Winston Peterson, a practical auror Harry privately admired for his ability to speak up for himself. Two others in the group nodded in agreement.
“Shut it, all of you. He’s Harry Potter. I would follow him anywhere,” said another member of the group, Colton Avery.
“Listen up. You four are in training. I have been given clearance to take you wherever the hell I want whenever the hell I want, and if you have a problem with it, you’re dismissed,” Harry said venomously. He knew they wouldn’t go to Gordon. They were too curious as to what the most famous wizard in the world could possibly be looking for and wouldn’t give up the chance at some excitement. Harry’s face tugged into a smirk as he turned and walked away.
“Can he really take us wherever he wants?”
“Well we are in training. I’m sure he’s telling the truth. I don’t really mind at all. These raids are exciting!”
“We’re supposed to train during regular work hours like everybody else! This time of night is meant for sleeping!”
“Get out of here. I’ll see you lot at 5am in the office,” Harry barked.
“Five in the morning? Is he bloody joking?”
“Shut up Calvert, let’s get out of here before you make it worse.”
Harry heard several popping noises and when he turned around they were gone.
“Bloody sods,” Harry murmured to himself. He ran a hand through his raven-colored hair and sighed. Not wanting to go home to face Ginny but knowing he had to, Harry turned away from the situation and apparated on the spot. He insisted on working alone, but since he had started becoming too emotionally involved in his missions leading to risky moves and dangerous situations, the Auror Department had assigned him a team to train hoping it would make him less reckless and allow him to work while not being assigned cases until he proved his emotions wouldn’t impact his judgment. Harry brought the aurors-in-training along to clean up after him because he had to put in a certain number of hours and certainly wasn’t going to do it the easy way. He needed to make a statement. Harry Potter does not babysit little auror-wannabes when there were more important cases to be handled.
“Alohomora,” Harry murmured, pointing his wand at his front door. He pushed it open slowly and eased himself inside. Harry tiptoed quietly through the small living room of the flat until he reached the staircase situated a few feet from him. He ascended the stairs and crept down the hall. He expected Ginny to be sitting up in bed reading and waiting for him as always, but instead he found her slumped against the pillows, a look of unease plastered across her flawless face. Harry’s anger lessened as he took in the beauty of his fiancé. He smoothed her hair out and tucked her under the covers so that she would be more comfortable. After kissing her forehead gently, Harry crept into the bathroom to shower.
“Three in the morning. Must be really important for them to have you out so late,” Ginny said when Harry entered the room rubbing his hair with a towel. He was wearing pajama pants.
“Shower woke me. Where were you?”
“You know I can’t discuss my work-“
“Bullshit Harry. I know Gordon didn’t send you wherever you went. I owled him.”
“Why are you talking to my boss?” Harry asked, his anger rising.
“Because you never come home anymore. And when you do it’s to pretend to sleep for a couple of hours until you’re gone again. If this is what it’s going to be like when we get married-“
“Then what? You don't want to be with me anymore?”
“Stop jumping to conclusions Harry I didn’t say that. Just tell me where you were. Please,” Ginny said, her voice softening. Harry dropped his towel into the hamper near the bathroom.
“I was working. You know I’m training a new team. I have to do the unexpected with them to keep them on their toes,” Harry explained as he approached the bed.
“But it’s not up to you to create the training schedules. You’re supposed to follow them like every other trainer-"
“I’m the best. They know I’m the best at fighting Dark Magic. I should be able to do what I want!”
Harry put his head in his hands and rubbed his temples. He knew he had to stop disappointing Ginny if they wanted to have hopes of a successful relationship.
“Harry. You have to stop looking for him. It’s time,” Ginny told him after a few moments of silence, her voice quiet. Harry sighed.
“No. I can’t.”
“Yes you can. We can finally set a date. I miss him so much, but it’s been four years. We have to move on,” Ginny said, her voice cracking. She moved on the bed until she was sitting next to Harry. She took his hand and squeezed tight. “Don’t you want to finally be married? We’ve put it off for so long.”
“You know I do. But we agreed to wait until we found him. I can’t give up on him, Ginny. He’s my best mate and I know he wouldn’t give up on me. I’ll find some more leads. I’ll find him. I have to.”
“We need to be realistic. I want to find Ron as much as the next person, but this is tearing us apart. It’s tearing you apart. Don’t you see? You’re always angry and you’re never home. When you are home we fight and then you leave and then it happens again. I don't want to keep crying myself to sleep. I’m not willing to risk our relationship for this anymore. I love you and I need you to fight for us as much as you’re fighting for Ron’s return,” Ginny said, tears rolling softly down her cheeks. Harry turned to face her and rested a hand on her face. He wiped her tears with his thumb and pulled her chin up so he could look into her eyes. She looked hurt, and he felt his heart breaking knowing that he had made her cry yet again. He had to stop doing this.
“Ginny I-,” Harry began. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t tell me you’re sorry. Show me. You asked me to marry you. Or have you forgotten?”
“No. I haven’t forgotten. You’re the only person who makes me happy. You mean everything to me, and I want you to be happy. I need you and I want you in my life,” Harry told her, his voice a little above a whisper. The two of them were quiet for a moment. Harry moved so he could lie back against the pillows and he pulled Ginny against him and wrapped his arm protectively around her waist. “We will set a date. I’ll speak to your mother about plans,” Harry told her.
“Thank you,” Ginny replied. She reached up and kissed him softly on the mouth before resting her head against his chest. Ginny fell asleep quickly, while Harry lay awake wondering if he would ever be able to let go of his search for Ron. Ron’s disappearance so quickly after Voldemort had been defeated had been more unsettling for him than the war itself. He had to find him before the wedding. He had to do it for his future family, and also for Hermione. Moreover, he had to do it for himself. He couldn’t rest unless he found him dead. This was a missing piece of his life, and he couldn’t fully put his life back together again until Ron was found.
“Hermione?” Ron called down the street to her. She turned around to face him with a puzzled look in her eye.
“Ron? Is it really you?” She walked towards him and began to quicken her step. She reached out a hand to him when a car honked loudly. She turned her face quickly in the direction of the car when BLEEP BLEEP BLLEP BLEEP.
Hermione opened her eyes and hit the off button on the alarm clock on her nightstand. She continued to use various muggle items to feel closer to her parent’s world. She sat up and smoothed her hair back. The dreams were always the same. She’d see him but could never quite reach him. There was always something in the way. Sometimes they occurred in the muggle world, other times in the wizarding world. Every time there was a barrier keeping her from him. Hermione pushed her covers off, got out of bed and headed for the shower. It had been four years since he disappeared and she hadn’t gone a single minute without thinking about him. She didn’t feel she’d ever move on unless he was found dead, eliminating the chance that he might someday return to her.
Hermione placed her nightgown on the hook on the back of the bathroom door and stepped into the shower. The hot water relaxed her tense muscles as it beat down upon her back. As she washed her hair, she contemplated what would happen if Ron ever came back. Most of her days were spent imagining what it would be like and daydreaming about many different ways it could happen.
Hermione finished her shower and glanced out the window. It looked to be a sunny February day, and she guessed it would probably be quite chilly. She donned a pale blue sweater paired with a white skirt and she grabbed her white Healer robes and went to the kitchen. She waved her wand to set coffee brewing and placed her robes over one of the kitchen chairs. Another flick of her wand and toast was preparing itself. Hermione sat down at the table and opened the Daily Prophet. No news of Ron. She knew if there were it would have made headline news. She sighed and flipped through the rest of the paper.
After she finished reading, a quick glance at the clock told Hermione she had ten minutes to floo to work. She quickly collected her things and stepped into the fireplace. Speaking her destination, Hermione was engulfed in the green flames, and was off to begin yet another day.
Harry was sitting in his office working on some paperwork when the door burst open.
“What is it now? You’ve told me a million times to finish this paperwork today, so why do you keep barging in here-"
Harry stopped speaking when he looked up.
“Sorry Mrs. Tonks, I thought you were Gordon,” Harry said apologetically. “What can I do for you?”
“Harry I know this is last minute but I need you to watch Teddy,” she told him hurriedly. As she spoke she began setting Teddy’s things down next to the door with one hand and held on to his small hand with the other.
“Mrs. Tonks, I would love to watch him, but I’ve got a lot of work to do today-"
“Harry I know you’re busy but I really have to get going. I have some important errands to run. You’re my last hope.”
“And I’d love to help, you know I would, but-“
“Mr. Gordon said you’re on desk duty today, so you can just set Teddy up with something to play with. Don’t worry he’ll be no trouble at all. I’ll be around later to pick him up. Thanks so much Harry, you’re brilliant!” Mrs. Tonks said as she ushered Teddy over to Harry. She kissed him swiftly on the cheek, murmured a quick goodbye, and was out the door.
Harry sighed as he watched her go. Teddy walked over to him and looked up, his eyes wide.
“Uncle Hawy, I want to draw,” Teddy proclaimed. Harry smiled down at him and pulled out a spare quill and parchment from his desk and set Teddy up with a place to draw in the corner of his office. He considered himself lucky at Teddy could usually entertain himself and knew he wouldn’t be any trouble.
“Uncle Hawy, I am like you!” Teddy giggled as he made his face look serious like Harry’s while leaning over his work. Harry laughed a bit and then returned to his work. Normally he hated paperwork, but it was proving to be more interesting when Teddy was there to imitate him. Harry’s unauthorized run trip with the aurors-in-training had earned him desk duty for a week in addition to training the team of new aurors. He didn’t mind this time only because he needed to research new leads on possible places Ron could be, and he could easily use his desk duty time to accomplish both tasks. He pulled more papers towards him and set to work.
A few hours later, after Harry and Teddy had eaten lunch, Harry checked his watch. Mrs. Tonks still wasn’t there to pick up Teddy. His work was finished and he unfortunately hadn’t found any new leads about Ron. He was debating about whether or not he should owl Mrs. Tonks when the door to his office burst open yet again, this time yielding a flustered looking Hermione.
“Aunt Hermy!” Teddy exclaimed. They had taught him Grawp’s nickname for Hermione since they favored his over Viktor Krum’s and Teddy couldn’t say the full name yet.
“Teddy! You are so big! How are you?”
“I work like Uncle Hawy today!”
Hermione laughed and pulled Teddy into a tight hug.
“Teddy why don’t you go over there and draw your Aunt Hermione a picture?” Harry said to the small boy. Teddy grinned and went back to his little desk and started to draw again.
“He’s so sweet,” Hermione said.
“Yeah. What’s up? How’s work at St. Mungo’s?” Harry asked as he took his seat behind his desk and gestured to Hermione to take the one across from him.
“Things are going fine. I’ve picked up an extra shift tonight-”
“Again? Hermione you can’t keep working yourself to death. It’s not your job to save everyone.”
“I know but I want to do what I can. I don’t want to sit around in my flat all the time by myself. I like being busy.”
“You’re good at what you do. I reckon you’re the best damn Healer in the hospital, but also the most overworked. Give yourself a break. Take a vacation or something.”
“I don’t need a vacation. How’s Ginny doing?”
“She’s alright. Angry that I’m not home more. She’s got a little more time before the off-season for the Harpies is over and then she’ll be back training more often.”
“Why aren’t you home? What are you out doing?”
“You know. Work,” Harry said, clearing his throat.
“If I agree to take a vacation, you have to do the same,” Hermione told him, a smirk playing on her lips.
“I’ll consider it,” Harry responded. A knock sounded at the door. Harry stood from his desk and opened the door to Mrs. Tonks.
“Thank you so much Harry! He behaved himself I trust?”
“Yes, he was great. I’ll see you later Teddy, be good for your grandmother,” Harry said, giving Teddy a tight hug. Teddy giggled and took his grandmother’s hand and began to tell her about his day as she ushered him out of the room. “So, can you tell me why you’re really here now that he’s gone?”
“I had a case today,” Hermione started. She twirled her hands nervously in her lap. “The guy had been transfigured and we had to set him right and it got me thinking-”
“Hermione no. We’ve tried everything. I’ve been looking for that, it’s one of the first things that crossed my mind. We’ve talked about this before already.”
“I know but I was just wondering if maybe we've exhausted our options. The man today...was so lucky he came in when he did and that we were able to help him. If he'd been any later we wouldn't have been able to help.”
“I’m doing the best I can. You know the auror department wants to leave the case alone and won’t use any more manpower trying to find someone who has been missing for four years. The case is still open because it’s Ron. I'm sure there will always be someone willing to help us out with this case.”
“I’m not suggesting that we need more help. I’m wondering if it’s worth it for us to keep going. If he was transfigured or hidden under an invisibility cloak or something, what hopes do we have of ever finding him since we haven't already?”
“You too? What is it about right now? Like I told Ginny earlier, there is no way I’m giving up on him. Not yet. He is going to come back. I know he will,” Harry said passionately, trying to convince both himself and Hermione.
“I want to believe that. I really do. But maybe it’s time to accept the fact that maybe…he’s really…”
“No. Don’t say it. Hermione we can’t give up! You of all people should know that. You never give up on anything or anyone.”
“I’ve never been in love with anyone who was taken away from me either. I’m sorry Harry. But it hurts too much. He will always have my heart, and I believe I’ll always have his, “ Hermione said, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I’ve got to go to work. I’ll see you later. Tell Ginny I said hello.”
Hermione stood and left Harry’s office quickly. Harry watched her go and then slammed the door to his office shut. Why was he the only one who believed Ron would return? He began to pace back and forth, cursing under his breath. Someone had to be on his side. Perhaps George or Percy would agree with him. Harry decided he would talk to Mrs. Weasley about getting the wedding plans underway, and then he would find Ron, no matter what it took.
A/N: I'm sorry this update took a little over a month and it wasn't very long. It was more or less a filler chapter, but I hope you still got something out of it. I've been a little busy with various things lately but I'm working on the next chapter and hope to have it up quicker this time. Thanks so much for reading, please drop a review in the box below. I'd love to hear your feedback!
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