Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Harry slumped, relieved, onto his four poster. “Well, I’m glad that’s over.”
Ron shuffled into the dormitory behind him, followed by Ron and Ginny. “Yeah, you’re telling me,” he muttered, throwing himself onto his Chudley Cannons bedspread.
Ginny and Hermione took seats on what had been Neville and Seamus’s beds.
Harry felt for all the world like he had just run a marathon. Regardless of the fact that it was three in the afternoon, all he wanted to do was sleep.
“Are you OK, mate?” asked Ron cautiously. His question was followed by a muffled “oof!” and a shrill whisper from Hermione, in which Harry distinctly heard the words “insensitive” and “teaspoon”.
Mercifully, Harry found himself able to laugh.
“It’s OK, Hermione. I’m fine. I… yeah” Harry stopped himself and just took in the feeling of freedom that had washed over him an hour ago. It was if the wave that had pulsated from the gravestone and swept through him like a gale had carried the pardon of every soul whose name was carved onto it, forgiving and enlightening him. He still had a huge sense of guilt, but he was now able to overcome it so that it was pushed back, to the deepest, darkest corners of his mind.
Ginny happily sprang off of her bed and onto Harry’s.
“It’s like we said; no-one blames you. And at last you can see that,” she said softly, snuggling into him happily. Ron looked away pointedly.
“Yes, well, erm, if you two lovebirds don’t mind, I’m going down to the kitchens. The House Elves will be preparing for the feast, and first come, first serve!” After a dangerous look from Hermione, he added “Er… They’ll probably be needing some help.”
Harry and Ginny ignored him, so he grumpily grabbed his wand and stomped out of the room.
Harry poked his head out through Ginny’s glistening red hair.
“We’d better get after him. We don’t want his lordship in a bad mood at the feast, do we?”
“No,” reasoned Ginny, reluctantly pulling away from Harry. “He’ll eat all the food. But he does make a point of interrupting us when he can, and it drives me mad.” She paused thoughtfully. “Maybe it’s time he met one of my Bat-Bogey curses first hand.”
Harry just laughed, and the trio followed Ron down the spiral staircase.
They found Ron, looking rather haphazard, at the bottom of the grand staircase. A girl with messy blonde hair and an orange badge pinned to her robes was standing, awestruck, in front of him. There were a number of papers lying strewn over the floor between them, which Ron was picking up.
“Hey Ron,” said Harry, catching up to him. “Who’s your friend?”
Ron shrugged, then glanced down at the folder he had just picked up.
“Daphne Applegrass, apparently,” he read off the folder, which was bright, Chudley Cannons orange.
The girl, who had until now remained silent, gave a little scream. Ron looked up at her, surprised.
“What? Is that not your name?” he inquired, bemused.
The girl looked like she was going to scream again, but didn’t. She paused for a moment, muttering something under her breath, and when she looked up she seemed to have composed herself slightly. She reached tentatively for the folder Ron was holding out for her.
“Erm... no, no, that’s me. I mean, that’s my name. I... err, I mean wow; it’s just... it’s such an honour...” she stammered.
Ron now looked really confused. “An honour?” he said incredulously. A look of realisation began to dawn on his face. “Oh, right, you mean Harry, yeah... well, there he is!” He made an extravagant gesture towards Harry.
The girl shook her head. “No... not him, I mean... you, you’re... you’re Ron Weasley!”
Ron grinned. “Yep, that’s me! Wow, you actually know my name. But what’s the big deal about meeting me?”
Now it was the girls turn to look shocked. His words seemed to have inspired something in her.
“Big deal!? You’ve, like, done as much as anyone, you’re, I mean, you’re a hero!”
Ron scoffed. “Me, a hero? It was Harry who defeated He-Who-Must... I mean Voldemort.”
The girl gave another little scream at the mention of Voldemort’s name.
“So brave, to say the name... and modest, too... here, let me show you.” She opened the folder Ron had picked up and handed it to him.
As Ron flicked through the pages his eyes got wider and wider until it looked like his sockets were no longer big enough to hold them. He eventually snapped it shut and handed it back to the girl.
“See!” she said firmly, “You’re a hero! No offence,” she added to Harry, completely undaunted by him. She turned back to Ron. “Do you mind if I take a picture? To prove I’ve met you. Wait until the girls back at the RWFC see this!”
Ron was jerked out of the state of amazement he is like a fish out of water. “Girls? What girls?” he asked. Then, after a sharp look from Hermione, “What’s the RWFC?” Hermione rolled her eyes.
“The Ronald Weasley Fan Club, of course!” said the girl, howing him her orange pin badge. It had the letters RWFC emblazoned in bright gold upon it. “Orange for the Chudley Canons,” she said happily, taking a camera out of her shoulder-bag. She handed it to Harry. “Here, could you take it?”
Struggling to conceal his laughter, Harry took the camera and pointed it at Ron and Daphne. It flashed brightly and a bright plume of smoke enveloped his face, making him cough violently.
Daphne looked delighted, and took the camera from him as he staggered backwards. Ginny patted him on the back as an ecstatic Daphne put the camera away and retrieved the rest of her things from the floor.
“Before I go, can I ask you one more thing?” she inquired of Ron.
“You just did,” he pointed out, making her howl with laughter. “Well, go on then.”
“Can I get an interview with you some time? You know, for the fanzine.”
Ron looked like he had been slapped hard around the face.
“Fanzine!?” he choked.
“Yep!” replied Daphne happily. “The first issue’s going out next Thursday; not tomorrow, but a week after – and it would be amazing to have an interview with the man himself! Here’s the address, just owl me when you’re ready!” She handed him a small slip of paper and was off, skipping towards the great hall and the wafting smell of food.
Ron stood frozen to the spot, gobsmacked. Harry came forward and patted him on the back, laughing.
“Come one, your lordship, the kitchens await!” he chuckled, but Ron didn’t laugh.
“Look... mate, I’m sorry about that, it should be you that get the appreciation and the fanzine...” he began, but Harry cut him off.
“Come off it! I don’t mind, and you deserve some recognition anyway.” He looked around at them. “You all do. I don’t know why everyone thinks I’m the big hero...”
Ginny shook her head. “Don’t be stupid. You deserve the credit because you stopped him. But other people helped, and they deserve to be recognised. But I dunno why anyone would make a fanclub for Won-Won, I mean, seriously...”
“Hey,” interceded Ron. “It’s Ronald to you. And I’ve got a big interview coming up, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to the great hall.” He turned around grandly and strode off.
Ginny and Hermione both tried and failed to stifle giggles, while Harry struggled to keep a straight face as he called “I thought you were going to the kitchens?”
Ron swiftly did a U-turn and changed direction, heading off for the kitchens. Not bothering to conceal their amusement, the trio of Harry, Hermione and Ginny followed him, laughing.
They caught up with Ron as he was in the process of tickling the pear in the portrait of the bowl of fruit that hid the kitchens. Giggling, it transformed into a green door handle, which Ron pulled, opening a concealed door.
Despite all the events of the last week, the Hogwarts kitchen was clean as clean and gleaming as ever. House elves bustled about here, there and everywhere, carrying various platters of food and drink. The giant ovens hissed and sizzled as various meats, vegetables and savouries were cooked to perfection. Ron took a long sniff of the air and sighed dreamily.
“It’s like being in food heaven,” he said, watching as a dozen house elves removed a giant turkey from the inferno that was the main oven.
Hermione, meanwhile, was glancing around with a frown on her face, as if looking for anything that may threaten or seek to harm the house elves. She spotted one elf (who had a very evident limp) who was dragging a pot of sprouts across to one of the four massive tables.
“Erm, hello there? Are you OK?” she enquired worriedly, rushing to the elf’s side and taking the pot of sprouts from it.
“Monty is fine, miss,” squeaked the elf. “It’s nothing, Monty will be fine.”
“Is that your name, Monty?” asked Hermione.
The elf nodded, and made to move away, but Hermione wouldn’t allow it. As she grabbed the tea towel Monty wore, it unravelled slightly, revealing a layer of towel caked in blood. Hermione looked shocked.
“Goodness, what happened to you?” she cried, pulling the elf back and laying him gently on the floor.
“Monty is fine,” insisted the elf, attempting to get up again, “Monty has to help with the feast for his masters!” But Hermione held firm, raising the Hogwarts-stamped tea towel aside to reveal a gash across the elf’s right leg. He looked rather sheepish, and attempted to pull the towel back over the wound.
“Why didn’t you tell somebody?” Hermione asked the elf.
“It is not Monty’s place to bother his masters with his problems,” Monty replied grudgingly, still attempting to wrestle himself free.
Hermione looked incensed. “What do you mean, not your place!? You have as much of a right to medical care as any wizard, or any other being for that matter!” The elf bowed his head.
“Hermione,” said Ginny quietly, “remember that all this year they’ve been under the control of Snape and the Carrows. They were treated worse than they were when Dumbledore was in charge. I suppose now we know Snape was on our side he wouldn’t have been too bad to them but... he had to keep his cover up.”
Hermione nodded and turned gently back to Monty, who had been attempting to creep away unnoticed while her attention was diverted.
“Look, Monty, I’m sorry for what you’ve been through this year. But the Death Eaters aren’t in charge any more, and I’m sure McGonagall will be perfectly happy for you to receive medical attention. She may even let you...” but she stopped short at a pointed cough from Ginny.
The elf finally gave in, and slumped into a heap on the floor, examining his leg. “It does hurt Monty a little,” he admitted.
“Well, then, you take yourself off to the hospital wing and I’m sure Madam Pomfrey will be more than happy to treat you,” said Hermione gently. “You’re a brave elf, you all are, to risk your lives and join the fight like you did. You could have been killed.”
“It is our duty, miss,” answered the elf. “And sadly, we did lose one of our own...” he looked at the floor. “Poor Dobby.” And with that, he vanished into thin air.
Hermione sighed. “I’m going to have to rethink S.P.E.W. We need to take more action. And I suppose the best place to do that would be the ministry. But I’d be even better placed if I did my NEWTs...” She put her head in her hands. “I don’t know what to do!”
Ginny put her hand on Hermione’s shoulder comfortingly. “It’ll be OK. You’ve still got time to decide. Whatever you do, I know it’ll be for the best.”
Hermione smiled wryly but gratefully. “Thanks,” she said, “but I still have no idea what to do.”
At that moment, Ron appeared out of the throng of busily working house elves, a turkey leg in each hand.
“Come on! They’ll be sending up the starter in a minute, and they’ve already sent a few appetisers!” he said, his voice muffled through a mouthful of turkey. Ginny grimaced.
“Ron, you really are disgusting,” she remarked, rolling her eyes. Then, quietly to Hermione, “I don’t know what you see in him.” But she couldn’t help smiling slightly as Ron turned to Hermione and said;
“What did I do?”
He may be an odd brother, but he was still here. Unlike Fred, she thought bitterly. But before she could reflect on the thought she felt Harry’s arms around her shoulders, and she pushed the grief to the back of her mind, remembering she still had him too.
“What’ve you been doing, then, Mr Potter?” she inquired.
Harry grinned at her. “Talking to Winky and Kreacher. He’s been trying to help her get over her butterbeer problem; she’s making real progress...” he halted on seeing her blank look. “Oh, of course, you don’t know...”
“You can tell me later,” she suggested. “Right now we’ve got a feast to get to. I think he’ll eat all the food down here and let empty platters go up if we don’t take him away soon!”
They turned away, calling to Ron and Hermione and waving goodbye to the house elves, and together left through the hidden door. Ron caught up with them, stuffing his pockets full of all types of food the house elves were presenting him with.
Hermione rolled her eyes; something she had done a lot since she met Ron. “Come on, Ronald, or they won’t have any food left,” she called to him.
“Bossy boots,” he replied, but as they went to leave, he gave her hand a squeeze.
“Come on. We’d better catch them up,” he said. “Race you to the great hall?”
Hermione paused for a moment, then... “You’re on!”
And together they ran out of the door and onwards to the feast.
Hi guys! Sorry for taking so long to update, but at least I didn’t take 5 months this time :-) Anyway, this chapter was designed to bring Ron and Hermione more into the story as before it had mainly been about Harry and also provide some comic relief, so I hope it did that. I will try and update as soon as possible; next chapter will probably be the feast plus maybe some of the conversations afterwards... still thinking! I think it’s time the plot picked up a bit, so look out for that! Thanks, and please review! Your comments are always appreciated, positive or negative. Thanks again, Dalek194 :-)
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