Chapter 3 : Chapter 3
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A week later Harry was sitting in the Weasley’s kitchen with his feet up on the table sipping a glass of pumpkin juice and reading the Daily Prophet. Ginny sat opposite him in the same posture, with a book by the captain of the Holyhead Harpies All Witch Quidditch team, Gwenog Jones. The atmosphere in the house was still gloomy, though not as bad has it had been. It was made all the more obvious by the occupants trying desperately to act as though nothing was wrong. Arthur Weasley had gone to work at the Ministry, helping to get things running again. Molly Weasley was busy preparing dinner.
“Kingsley Shacklebolt has been confirmed as Minister of Magic.” Harry observed.
“That’s great news.” Molly was stuffing a large chicken, “He’ll be an excellent Minister. He’s got a first class brain in his head.” Harry picked up his juice and started to take a mouthful as Mrs. Weasley, needing space said, “Feet off the table please. Look you two; I cannot be doing with you cluttering up the place, why don’t you just go for a walk, or something.” Harry spluttered his juice everywhere while Ginny hastily hid her reddening face behind her book as Hermione and Ron came in. Harry was mopping up puddles of pumpkin juice.
“Blimey Harry, is the pumpkin juice bad?” Ron grabbed some biscuits from a jar, as Hermione poured some coffee.
“No, it just went down the wrong way.” He finished clearing up and turned to Ginny. “Come on lets go.
“Where you going then?” Ron enquired through a mouthful of biscuit.
“Out for a walk.”
When they reached door, Hermione smiled slyly, “Will you be… taking a break?” Ginny gave her a look that would have stopped the Hogwarts Express. As they walked out of the garden, Harry looked questioningly at Ginny.
“You haven’t told her have you?”
“No! I haven’t! How can you even ask me that?” Ginny was obviously annoyed at Hermione and resented the implication of Harry’s question.
“Well how does she know then?”
“She doesn’t know. She might suspect, but there’s no way she can know.”
“But why would she even suspect?” Harry wasn’t giving up.
“Beats me, I don’t know.”
“Must be femenine intuition, I suppose.” Harry was shaking his head, bewildered.
They walked for about half an hour and then sat down on the bank of a small stream. Ginny lay down on the grass and Harry propped himself on one elbow looking down at her. “I think you’re right, there’s no way she can know.” He lay down beside her. “We’ll have to be more careful next time.”
“Next time?” Ginny raised herself to one elbow. “What next time? What makes you think there will be a next time? Or maybe you’re thinking about right here, right now, is that it?” She sounded angry and she lay back down, put her hands behind her head, spread her legs and stared fixedly up at the sky. “Get on with it then, we haven’t got all day. I’ll watch that cloud go by.” Harry sat up, looking and feeling bemused.
“Ginny what’s the matter? I thought…”
“That’s just it, Harry, you didn’t think, you assumed.” She jumped to her feet.
“No ‘buts’ Harry.” She paused for a moment. “Listen to me please, I told you that I love you; and I do, more than you can ever know, but if you ever take me for granted I’ll be off quicker than a Go Faster spell.” She stood up and stormed off. Harry got up and went after her.
“Ginny stop.” He said catching her by the shoulders.
“Let go of me!” She was shouting, trying to shrug his hands off.
“Not until you listen to me. Sit down.” He sat beside her; “I’m sorry if I was…” he searched for the right word, “insensitive. If I ever take you for granted you have my permission to plant your size ten boot on my behind.”
“Size ten! Size ten!” Ginny yelled, “I take a five!” Harry grinned,
“That remark didn’t help did it?”
“No!” snapped Ginny. Harry thought he noticed the beginning of a smile at the corner of her mouth.
“Ginny, I’m sorry, really I am.”
Ginny exhaled heavily, “Okay, so am I. Forget it.”
“Can I ask you something else?”
“What is it?”
“What’s a Go Faster spell? I’ve never heard of that one.”
“I don’t know I just made it up. Good idea though, perhaps I should think about inventing it.” She tried to resist as Harry lifted her chin to look into her eyes,
“Are you having regrets about the other day?” he asked gently.
“No. Definitely not.” She turned to face him fully, “You see, Harry, for the last year I have lived in absolute dread of hearing that you were dead. I wanted to do it because… well… I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you without ever having…. er, made love to you. I thought it was wonderful, better than I ever imagined, and believe me I have imagined it. But everything else that happened at Hogwarts sort of taints it, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah. I do. Come on, let’s get back.” As they started to walk back to the Burrow, Ginny looked at Harry,
“You were right about one thing though you know?”
“What’s that then?” She looked at him with a twinkle in her eye as she slipped her arm through his,
“We will have to be more careful next time.”
They arrived back at the Burrow and entered the kitchen. Ron was at the table reading the paper. Harry joined him and they began talking. Ginny went upstairs, as she reached the landing outside her room Hermione appeared from the room she was occupying.
“Oh you’re back already, didn’t you stop for a break then?” She was shocked at Ginny’s angry retort.
“Right Hermione, that’s enough. I’m fed up with the snide little remarks. If you think you’ve got something worth saying, then say it to my face. Here and now, come on.”
“Well really, can’t you take a little joke?” Hermione hadn’t expected this.
“It’s not a joke, Hermione, you’re deliberately trying to embarrass us and I’m telling you to cut it out. It’s not funny and you’re in danger of overstaying your welcome.” Before Hermione could reply, Ginny turned and entered her room. Later, at dinner, Harry saw that Hermione was noticeably subdued. After dinner Ginny and George helped their Mum to clear up. Harry and Ron went into the living room together while Hermione went to the bathroom. Harry took the opportunity and asked Ron if he and Hermione had argued about something.
“No, but I think she has something on her mind. I know better than to ask about it. If she wants me to know she’ll tell me.” Harry thought back to his walk with Ginny that day,
“Funny things girls; aren’t they?” he asked, shaking his head.
“You can say that again.” sighed Ron.
Mrs. Weasley was serving bacon and eggs for breakfast when Harry arrived downstairs the next morning. The coffee smelt wonderful, he helped himself to some and sat down and said good morning to the others. He looked around the table; George was not there, having gone to Hogsmeade looking for a location for a new shop, he was keeping himself busy to keep his mind off Fred. Arthur had already left for the Ministry. However there was someone else missing.
“No Hermione yet, that’s unusual.” Harry said.
“Yes, it is.” said Molly.
“Anyone know why?” Harry enquired. Molly served him his breakfast.
“I don’t know Harry” Molly turned to her daughter “Ginny, if you’ve finished eating why don’t you go and give her a shake.” Ginny hurriedly took another piece of toast and started to spread butter and marmalade,
“I haven’t finished yet, Mum. Anyway what’s wrong if she wants a lie in?” After another half an hour, when there was no sign of Hermione. Molly went to see if she was alright. She came back down a few minutes later,
“She’s not there, her bed is made up, everything is tidy and all her clothes have gone. She left this.” she said handing Ron a folded and sealed piece of parchment. Ron opened it and began, without realising it, to read out loud.
I’m sorry to be so mysterious, but I’ve decided that I have to get away. I should have left after Fred’s funeral. I think you need time together as a family without outsiders, and I didn’t want to outstay my welcome. Thank your parents for everything and I’ll be in touch later.
“I don’t understand,” he said, “I mean, I know she had something on her mind yesterday, but I didn’t imagine it was bad enough for her to consider leaving.”
“You’re sure you two didn’t argue or have any sort of disagreement yesterday?” said Harry.
“No, absolutely not. What does she mean ‘outstay her welcome’, why would she think that?”
“I don’t know,” Harry began, “but something’s obviously upset her.” Ginny had listened, not knowing whether she should say anything. She knew that Harry would not be pleased and that Ron would go absolutely ballistic if she told them what had happened between her and Hermione. Harry was talking again. “Well I guess we won’t know until we find her. This brings us to our next problem. Where has she gone?”
“How about the Leaky Cauldron?” Molly had started to clear the table of the remains of breakfast.
“That should be easy enough to check. Here wait a minute; she wouldn’t have gone with George, would she?” Ron was already sounding desperate.
“I can’t imagine why she would have done that, but George will be back this evening so we can ask him then.”
“I’m not waiting until then. I can’t just sit here and do nothing.”
“OK Ron, you apparate to Hogsmeade and see George and check the school. Ginny and I will go to the Leaky Cauldron. Then we’ll meet back here.”
“I’ll wait here in case she turns up.” Molly had plenty to keep herself busy.
“Right, let’s get on with it.” Ron ordered.
They made rapid preparations and disapparated from the garden. Harry and Ginny appeared outside Gringotts, the Wizarding Bank and quickly passed through the brick wall and into the bar of the Leaky Cauldron. Tom the barman was idly wiping the bar with a cloth that had seen cleaner days, he paused as Harry and Ginny approached.
“Wot can I getcher?” he asked.
“Nothing thanks,” Harry leaned on the bar, “We’re trying to find a friend of ours, and we were wondering if you had seen her. Her name is Hermione Granger.”
“Don’ know the name. Wot she look like?” Harry described Hermione and as soon as he mentioned her hair the barman said “Yers, I seen her ‘smornin’. Early it were, jus’ arter opening.”
“Any idea where she went from here?” said Ginny.
“Out there,” the barman nodded his head towards the door that led out to the Charing Cross area of London, “said summat about going to see her Mum and Dad.”
“Her Mum and Dad, but they’re in…” Harry interrupted Ginny.
“Can we have a couple of coffees please?” The barman dropped the dirty cloth and reached under the counter for some cups.
“Yers o’course. Siddown an’ I’ll bring ‘em.” Harry dropped some coins on the counter and led Ginny to a table.
“Harry, she can’t be visiting her parents, they’re in Australia aren’t they?”
“Yes, but they still have a house here don’t they, I bet that’s where she’s going. To her parents’ house in… oh where was it… yeah Basingstoke.” They paused as the barman brought their coffee. It wasn’t the best coffee he had tasted, but given where they were, it wasn’t bad.
“So what do we do now? We can’t follow her there, can we?” Ginny grimaced as she tasted the coffee.
“I don’t think we have a choice. We’ve got to get to the bottom of all this. We don’t know where to apparate to, so we’ll have to go by train.”
“Well I haven’t got any Muggle money, have you?”
“No, but Gringotts has. I’ll make a withdrawal and change some to Muggle currency.”
“Do you know how to get to Basingstoke?” she pushed her unfinished coffee to one side.
“We’ll go by train from… er… Paddington Station.”
“How do we get there?”
“On the underground. You’ve been on the tube before remember, that time when your Dad was in St. Mungo’s.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t take much notice that time. I was worrying about Dad.”
As they left Basingstoke railway station, Ginny paused, “Harry I’ve just thought of a problem.”
“We don’t know the address,” said Harry, feeling stupid, “I’ve only just realised that too!”
“We know they’re called Granger, so we just ask somebody.”
“There could be hundreds of people called Granger, but we also know that they are dentists so that will narrow it down quite a bit. We need to find a telephone directory.” They went to a nearby café and borrowed a directory. Harry looked in the commercial section first under dentists. Within minutes they had found Hermione’s parents business address. Having found their initials he then looked at the domestic listings.
“Got them,” he exclaimed, “21 Forest Road.” A taxi ride later they were outside the address. Harry paid off the taxi and they walked warily up the pathway to the front door. Ginny rang the doorbell and they waited. She rang several times, to no avail. Harry noticed a pathway down the side of the house to the back garden. “We’ll try down there,” he said “come on.” They knocked on the back door, again without success. Harry peered through the kitchen window. “Hard to say if anybody’s been here recently.” Ginny looked around carefully and produced her wand from her handbag,
“Alohomora.” She intoned softly and the door clicked ajar. “C’mon, let’s have a quick look.” Harry followed her in. He opened the kitchen cupboards.
“There’s no food here,” he opened the fridge which was not even switched on, he tried a light switch “even the electricity is off, she’s not here.” he said.
“Doesn’t look like it,” Ginny agreed, “what do we do now?”
“Go back to the Burrow, I suppose, there’s nothing more we can do here.” He had a further look around the kitchen and close to the back door he saw a small rack with keys hanging on it. He took them down and found the key to lock the back door. “We can apparate from here. We don’t need to go back through London. Let’s go.”
“Before we go Harry, I’ve got to tell you something. I think it’s my fault that she left. When we got back from our walk yesterday I went upstairs and met her on the landing. She made another comment about us taking a break, and I lost it. I even made the comment about her ‘outstaying her welcome’. I’m so sorry.”
“Hells teeth, Ginny, why didn’t you say something before.”
“I was scared of Ron’s reaction, and if I explained then that could lead to a whole lot of questions about us. I’m scared of that too.” Harry thought for a moment.
“Don’t say anything when we get back, I’ll explain to Ron privately and we’ll keep it as quiet as we can. OK.” Ginny nodded. “Come on then, let’s go.”
Ten minutes after they departed another taxi pulled up outside number 21, Hermione walked to the front door with several shopping bags and let herself in. She had lain awake for much of the previous night. Disturbed and upset by Ginny’s comment, and had decided to get away. When she had left Diagon Alley she decided not to use any magic that might give her whereabouts away. When she arrived at her parents’ house she had spent an hour sitting in the living room crying and feeling miserable.
Being Hermione, she had then started to plan her day. ‘First I need food so I’ll start with that.’ So she had gone shopping. Next she needed power. She knew the electricity supply was in the cupboard under the stairs, but it was so dark there that she could not see it. She found her wand and muttered “Lumos.” ‘So much for not using magic,’ she thought, ‘but no more.’ “Nox.” With the power restored she unpacked her shopping, made herself a cup of coffee and returned to the living room. Fresh tears filled her eyes as she thought of the Burrow and Ron and realised that she did not have the first idea what she was going to do next.
A.N. At this point another story spins off. To be posted soon, ‘Hermione. What if?’ takes her life in a whole different direction.
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