Chapter 3 : Birthday Suprises
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July 31~ The woods
The first thought that Hermione had when she woke up was the air around her felt different. She slowly turned over and opened her eyes, blinking at the bright light filtering through the trees. She froze when she realized what she was seeing. How did she get outside? Where was she? With these questions running through her head she sat up suddenly, and noticed she felt no pain. She jumped up and seen her wand on the ground next to her, making her more confused. She grabbed up her wand and started to run out of the clearing in the woods where she woke up, hoping to find out where she was and how she escaped.
After a few hours of walking, the sun was high in the sky when Hermione seen a familiar sight. With tears falling down her cheeks, she ran towards the place where she knew she would find comfort and safety.
July 31~ Malfoy Manor
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE'S GONE!!! THERE'S NO WAY SHE COULD HAVE ESCAPED!!!" Lucius yelled, pacing the floor of his study. Somehow the mudblood girl had escaped and he had to get her back before the Dark Lord found out. He turned and looked at the person who gave him this discouraging news. His son was standing there with his back straight and his head held high, unflinching at his father's temper.
"Yes Father, she's gone and in a safe place where she can't be found again. I couldn't see her in that kind of pain anymore...and the torture wasn't right, no witch deserves that." Draco replied calmly to his father. "I couldn't do it anymore, I lo--"
"NO!! DON'T SAY IT!! You can never let your true feelings known! They will be used against you, YOU KNOW THIS!!! We have to get you out of here. I don't know how you got her out or where you have put her and I don't want to know, but you have put us in a situation that I can not see any way out of. You are going away for awhile. Somehow I'll make it seem like it was planned all along, well before she turned up missing. I might be able to keep that bit of info that she's gone from him for awhile yet. There are some within these walls that are loyal to me. Go pack. I do not think you'll be home before term starts. Leave me now, I must think." Lucius sighed, turning his back to his son and walking towards his desk. He sat down and wrote a short note. After it was finished, he called his owl and whispered the addressee in his ear and released him out the window. He hopes that the offer of protection was still open, because if not, Draco was dead. Lord Voldemort would see to it personally. With an air of dejection around him, Lucius rose from his seat and went to go find Narcissa. She had to know the plan and to get to safety herself. He was not going to loose his family over a stupid mistake he made when he was young.
July 31~ The Burrow
Molly was in the kitchen with Ginny trying to get everything ready for Harry's seventeenth birthday party that night. Even though neither one of them felt like celebrating, this was the first time they actually got to see Harry on his birthday and the fact he was moving into the Burrow that day too was a reason to celebrate. The weeks without any word about Hermione had been grating on everyone's nerves and there were many short tempers around now-a-days. Ron had banged out the door a couple of hours ago, saying he was going for a walk. Hermione's disappearance was hitting him the hardest. Since there was no word on what happened to her, everyone believed Voldemort was behind it, but with weeks of no news, he believed she was dead. It was the same belief everyone was starting to feel. The cheerfulness that seemed to be part of the Burrow has slowly faded until it now resembled a funeral parlour.
"Ginny, can you go find your brother? Harry should be here soon and I want to try and have a good day today." Molly said turning to her daughter. Ginny looked up at her mother, nodded, and with a quiet "yes mum", she turned and went outside to find Ron.
Once outside, Ginny followed the well worn path between the garden and the woods next to her parents land. She stopped when she seen someone in the distance running straight towards her. The person was to far away to tell who it was, but whom ever it was seemed to be running from something. Ginny pulled out her wand and slowly started towards the mystery person. The closer she got, the more she felt she knew who it was. No one she knew had that curly of hair but--
"HERMIONE!!!!!" Ginny screamed, running towards the person across the field now.
At her yell, Ron popped up from the ground where he had been laying, staring at the trees above him. He looked to where his sister was running and shook himself, not believing what he was seeing. It only took a minute before he too, was running towards her. It didn't take long for him to overcome his sister's strides and as he passed her, he felt tears on his face, but did not care about that. The one thing he cared about was running right at him and he was going to grab her and never let go.
"Mione! My Love!! You are home!!" Ron cried quietly as Hermione ran right into his arms, clinging to him like she would never let him go. "Sweetheart, it's okay, I have you and I won't let nothing bad happen to you again!" He pulled her away from him just a little bit so he could get a good look at her. Her hair wash in need of a washing as was the rest of her, and she had lost weight, but it was the same girl he had dreamed about for years and the same woman he was in love with.
"Ron, oh Ron, I thought I would never see you again!! It was horrible! I don't know how I got here, but I'm here. We have to go, we don't want them to find us!" Hermione cried, pulling away from him and grabbing his and Ginny's hands, started her mad dash towards the Burrow.
"Hermione! What happened? Where were you? How did you get away?" Ginny called out her questions in rapid fire, struggling to talk and run at the same time. She wrenched her hand out of Hermione's and stopped as she passed through the wards. She was back on Weasley land, so it was safe. Hermione, not knowing this, stopped and tried to grab her again.
"I'll tell you after we get inside, we have to get inside! I can't go back, I have to get inside where they can't find me! Come on Ginny!!" Hermione sobs out hysterically. After pulling on Ginny's hands for another minute or two, she gave up and collapsed to the ground, sobbing into her hands.
"Hermione?" Three eyes turned towards the sounds of the voice. Molly slowly walked across the yard, not daring to believe her eyes. As she got closer, she could tell indeed that Hermione was there, in her yard, sobbing into her hands like her life was over. "Oh dear," She said, kneeling next to her, enveloping her in her arms. "My sweet, sweet girl, you are here and you are safe, come inside and rest." Molly slowly got up with Hermione cradled in her arms, and with the strength that only mothers have, carried her inside while her two children followed, not knowing what to do to help.
After settling Hermione into bed in Ginny's room, Molly returned downstairs to find Ron and Ginny sitting at the kitchen table staring into space with silly gins on their faces. She waved her wand at the stove and put the tea kettle to boil. She sat down across from her children and sighed. After her talk with Hermione, she didn't know what to say to them.
"We need to get ahold of the Order and let them know that Hermione's here and safe. Ron, have you flooed Harry yet? I know he'll be here soon, but you should let him know what's been happening before he gets here." Ron got up without a word and went to the fireplace and disappeared in the emerald flames.
"Mum, is she going to be okay? Did she tell you anything? What can I do to help her?" Ginny fired off questions quickly, not giving her mother a chance to answer.
"Ginny, slow down. She'll be okay, she just need time. She told me some stuff, but I'm not going to tell you anything, that's her place to tell you herself and don't you DARE go asking her anything! She'll tell you when she's ready. Just treat her like you always have and be her friend. She needs that." Molly sighed, waving her wand again at the stove, levitating the tea kettle and biscuits to the table. Molly smiled and said, "Now we are going to sit here and enjoy are tea and then finish the food for the party tonight! It's going to be a wonderful night!"
July 31~ 4 Privet Drive
Harry looked up at the fireplace as it flared up in emerald flames and smiled a little smile as Ron stepped out of the fireplace.
"Hey mate! Aren't you early? I thought I had a few more hours before going to the Burrow. I actually got something for my Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon this year!" Harry looked at Ron a little closer, noticing Ron's smile was bigger than normal. "You seem awfully happy to see me, what's up?" Harry questioned, with one eyebrow raised and a little smirk on his mouth.
"Ummm...Not that not happy to see you mate, but I have great news!!!" Ron said, trying to hold back his excitement.
"Okay, what is it? Did your mum decide not to have a big party for me tonight? Or did the Chudley Cannons win a match?" Harry said with laughter in his voice.
"No better than that! Hermione's back!!" Ron cried out with a voice full of happiness. "She's back, she really is!" Ron was starting to hop in place with is excitement, reminding Harry of a little girl who got that wanted pony for Christmas.
"WHAT! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME SOONER!!! Harry yelled out, Jumping from his seat and rushing over to Ron. "When? How? Where?" It was Harry's turn for fast questions.
"Whoa Harry! Calm down. She showed up about thirty minutes ago outside the Burrow's wards. She's there now with Mum and Ginny. We don't know how she got away yet, she was quite hysterical and Mum gave her a calming draught and settled her in Ginny's room. She seems okay, A little skinny and a little dirty, but she's whole and she home. I'm never going to let her go out by herself again!" Ron said all in one breath and turn to sit in Harry's chair. "You should really hurry and pack the rest of your stuff so we can go back. You can use magic now, so it shouldn't take to long."
"Oh yea, that's right! I didn't even think about that!" Harry said with a smile, dropping the shirt he was folding and waved his wand around. His clothes jumped into the air and started to fold themselves and place themselves into his trunk. His books flew around the room until the found an empty box that they could fit in. In the matter of minutes, his room was all packed up and ready to go. Harry looked around the room at the bare walls and neatly made bed. It was weird, but he was going to miss this place. Over this last summer, things had gotten a lot better here. He almost felt like his aunt and cousin finally accepted him. Even Uncle Vernon hasn't been as bad in the years past. When he got home for summer break, his room was actually decorated in Gryffindor colors and there were pictures of his mother and father around his room. His aunt had finally stood up to his uncle and demanded that Harry be treated right. She had gone out of her way to get pictures of Lily and James and to find out what house Harry was in. She had finally made a home for Harry right as it was time for him to leave. Harry turned to Ron and gave him a weak smile.
"Harry, are you really going to miss this place? I mean, it's loads better now with the fireplace and the makeover, but two months don't make up for sixteen years of neglect. And anyway, you can always come back. It's not like you're leaving and never coming back." said Ron.
"You know what Ron? Hermione's right, you really are insensitive. I may be able to come back, but it was finally starting to feel like I had a family. Remember I said they got me a gift this year? It was a key to the house. They never gave me one of those before. It was like they finally accepted me. My uncle even said 'Come on over when you need to get away from all that freakiness and feel normal again, it's your home too' Do you know how great that made me feel? And now that everything's packed, it's like it never happened." Harry said softly, with a tear in his eye. Ron looked at him and reached over and gave Harry a one handed hug, patting him on the back a couple of times before he stepped away.
"Sorry mate, you know Hermione's always right. I'm going to take your stuff and head on over to the Burrow. You go say your good byes and we'll see you soon." Ron grabbed Harry's trunk and with a cry out to the burrow and a flare of emerald flames he was gone.
Harry sighed and went to the door, looking down at the cat flap his aunt was forced to send his meals through one summer and smirked. He would never have to go through that again. With a heart a little lighter, Harry went down the stairs and into the living room to say goodbye to his only living family.
July 31~ The Burrow
Everything was set up outside for Harry's party. Arthur and Charlie had helped decorate the yard and there were four large tables set under an enchanted cover that showed the night sky. There were fairy lights set up throughout the area and all the tables were covered in red tablecloths with a beautiful centerpiece made of lilies. The Weasleys were set to party the night away to celebrate Harry's birthday and the sudden return of Hermione. Everyone was inside finishing getting ready. An owl appears in the distance, flying right towards the Burrow. It flew right into the kitchen window, startling Molly as she put the finishing touches on the cake. She walked over and took the letter from the owl's leg and opened it as it sailed out the window again. As she read it, all the color drained from her face and she left it on the table as she quickly left the room to find Arthur. Moments later, the fireplace flared to like and Harry walked out. Noticing the empty kitchen, he set his last box down and looked around the room, waiting for someone to jump out and scream Happy Birthday at him. His eyes rested on the table where he sees the letter. To curious for his own good, he picked it up and read the words.
To The Order Of The Phoenix,
The time has come for me to admit my mistakes and beg for you help. My son Draco has released Miss Granger from the Dark Lord's confinement and need a safe place to go. I'm sending his mother with him. I can not lose my family because I was so stupid as a young man and signed my life away to an evil man. Please help my family. If you do, I will owe you everything and will do whatever I can to help bring down the Dark Lord from the inside. I will send them at eight tonight, if you refuse them, know that they will be out to death and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I beg you for your help. Don't do it for me, do it for Draco, I know of his alliance with you.
A/N: This chapter seems to be getting really long, so Harry's party will be in the next chapter. Please read and review!! I love reviews...I would love to know what everyone thinks!!
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