Chapter 10 : Chapter 10
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Hermione was astounded when she saw Draco come out of Kingsley Shacklebolt’s office. The two men she had been sitting with stood, one each side, and held his upper arms and escorted him from the room. Although his arm movement was restricted, he offered his hand and gave Hermione a sort of half smile,
“See you sometime Gr… Hermione, good luck.” It was the last phrase that left Hermione open mouthed in astonishment. Had he really just used her name? Actually called her Hermione? Wished her good luck? She hesitated before lightly taking his hand,
“Er… thanks Mal…” At least return the compliment, she thought. “Draco, you too.” Harry and Kingsley joined her.
“Now Miss Granger I have to ask you something. It is personal but I don’t think you would mind Harry knowing.”
“Please call me Hermione, Minister.” He smiled broadly,
“Very well, Hermione. Given how much our society has changed in the past months, now being far more secure than it has been for many years, as Minister I was wondering if you think it’s time that your parents returned to their home in this country.” Tears sprang to Hermione’s eyes.
“Oh Minister yes, that would be wonderful, I’ll start making the arrangements immediately.”
“No need for that Hermione.” said Kingsley, “Your contribution over the last couple of years has been immense, so as Minister I will personally make all the necessary arrangements. I have already made some preliminary enquires, so will the Wednesday of next week suit you? I will get Arthur Weasley to let you know the details in a day or two. You are staying at the Burrow, I believe?”
“Yes I am, that will be fantastic, how can I ever thank you?”
“It will be my pleasure Hermione, entirely my pleasure.” As she and Harry made their way back to the Atrium, Harry showed her Malfoy’s wand and explained what had taken place in Kingsley Shacklebolt’s office.
“What do you make of that then?” Hermione was puzzled by Harry’s tale.
“I don’t really know, but I have to say that I was expecting him to be a wreck, given where he’s going. But he wasn’t, he was very calm and collected. It was almost as if he had decided to take his punishment without complaint. Do you think he’s capable of changing Hermione?”
“It’s not the Malfoy we know and hate, but anything would be an improvement. I just shook his hand, can you believe it? I certainly don’t envy him the next six months. Oh, Harry, I’m going to see Mum and Dad next week. I can’t wait, I’m so excited. Let’s go find a loo before I wet myself.” They eventually reached the atrium and started searching for the others.
It was a couple of days later when Mr. Weasley returned from the Ministry with the news that Hermione was waiting for. They sat in the garden while he gave her the information.
“Right Hermione,” he began, Hermione was listening intently with Ron beside her, “Kingsley has been liaising with his opposite number in Australia. They were very happy to co-operate. So tomorrow they will begin the process. Firstly your parents will be placed under the Imperius, and taken to a secure location, where the first stages of memory modification will begin. As you are aware this can take some time, it cannot be rushed.”
“But the Imperius, how can they use an Unforgivable curse Mr. Weasley?” Hermione asked.
“Kingsley has arranged a Special Ministry Dispensation.” said Arthur, “they can do that you know, except for the Cruciatus and the Avada. There are no dispensations for those of course, not even the Ministry can do that.”
“I see,” said Hermione. Arthur settled back in the garden chair and continued.
“Once that is completed they will start their journey home, accompanied by a high official from their Ministry who has always wanted to visit this country. They will travel by Side-Along Apparition, although they will require some stops along the way. The final part of the journey will take them to the back garden of their house; we will have people there to make sure there they arrive unseen. If there are no hold-ups they should arrive late in the afternoon, the day after tomorrow. Then the memory modification will be completed, restoring most of their original memories and which will leave them believing they have just returned from a holiday in Australia, and are expecting a visit from you. The Imperius will be lifted. What do you think?”
“Mr. Weasley I’m so grateful. You seem to have thought of everything. I can hardly wait, but could you arrange for them to be expecting a visit from me and Ron. I want them to meet him.” Hermione was getting more excited by the minute.
“That will not be a problem, and please Hermione call me Arthur.”
“Oh I….” she stammered. Ron, who had sat silently all this time, looked at Hermione and said,
“Actually Hermione, I was wondering if you would like to call him… well… Dad.” Hermione looked back at Ron not comprehending what he had just said.
“Ron,” said Mr. Weasley, hardly believing his ears, “Are you asking her to…”
“Yeah, but I don’t think she’s getting it.” Ron said with a grin.
“Getting what?” Hermione asked, “What are you…” Suddenly the penny dropped, “Ron, are you asking… do you mean it? Seriously?”
“Absolutely Hermione, will you be my wife?” She leaned over and kissed him, which left Arthur Weasley staring at the sky and feeling not a little embarrassed. Hermione’s heart was pounding and she was blushing furiously as she replied,
“Yes Ron, I will.”
“Would you like that information included in your parents new memories?” asked Mr. Weasley.
“No thank you, Mr. Weasley, that bit I’ll tell them myself.” They could tell Hermione was bursting to tell somebody, anybody, her news. Mr. Weasley stood up and turned towards the house,
“I’ll send the others out and you can give them your news, as for me I am delighted.” He practically skipped back to the house. Mrs. Weasley, Harry and Ginny came out into the garden as a light rain started to fall. Molly gave a wave of her wand and the rain continued to fall, but only outside the area of the garden.
“Well now,” she said, “what is the mystery?” Hermione had a smile as wide as the sky as she slipped her arm through Ron’s and kissed him on the cheek. Her demeanour showed very clearly that something momentous had occurred.
“You’re trying to tell us something aren’t you.” Ginny started, then her eyes widened as she made the connection. “You’re not… he hasn’t…”
“Yes he has, Ginny, Ron just asked me to marry him.”
“Please, please, don’t tell me you said yes.” Harry with a sarcastic grin.
“Of course I did, you idiot.” Hermione laughed, punching Harry playfully in the chest. Molly pulled the pair of them into a hug.
“Oh that’s wonderful. I hope you’ll be very happy. I love you both.” The five of them were grinning as is if they’d all been hit by a stupidity curse.
“Finally,” said Ginny, “finally I’m going to have a sister and a big sister too. Fantastic!” Of course in the excitement of the moment she had totally forgotten about Fleur.
“This calls for a party.” Harry said, slapping Ron on the back and shaking his hand.
“Absolutely,” Hermione said, “as soon as we get back.” Ron looked puzzled,
“Get back, why, where are we going?”
“You and I are going to Diagon Alley, if we apparate now we can be there before closing. I’ll just go up and get my bag. What am I talking about? I’m a witch! Accio handbag.” Her bag came zooming from an upstairs window of the Burrow and into her hand. “See you outside Gringotts.” she said to Ron. She turned on the spot and vanished. Ron looked at Harry and Ginny, shrugged his shoulders and followed Hermione.
“Well, it looks like we’ve got a party to organise, we’d better get busy!” Mrs Weasley said.
The next hour was a blur of activity. Harry was given the responsibility of stocking up on Butterbeer and Firewhisky and other refreshments. He was standing in the garden awaiting the delivery of his order, when the familiar crack of someone apparating announced the arrival of Neville Longbottom followed shortly by Seamus Finnigan, Luna Lovegood, and Katie Bell. Harry explained the reason for the celebration and then asked,
“How did you know about it?” he grinned at them all.
“The old DA Galleons still work, Ginny let us know.” said Katie.
“I never thought of that.” Harry mused. The drinks Harry had ordered arrived and Neville and Seamus helped Harry move it indoors. Mrs. Weasley had tastefully decorated the living room and kitchen including a large banner that simply said: ‘CONGRATULATIONS - HERMIONE AND RON!’ There was an apparition crack from the garden.
“Is that them, the shops must be closing now.” Harry glanced out of the door.
“No, it’s Dean and the Patel girls.” They were closely followed by the Weasley’s eldest son Bill and his wife Fleur, to whom Mrs. Weasley had sent her Patronus with a message.
“Hi Mum,” he kissed his mother, “Charlie can’t make it, he’s in China doing some research, and Percy is stuck at the Ministry, some important business with Australia or something.” Fleur greeted her mother-in-law,
“Bonjour Maman, commént ca va.”
“Oh Fleur, you know I can’t speak French.”
“But Maman you mus’ learn, like I ‘ave ‘ad to learn de Eengleesh. I weel teach you. Bill, ‘e did not want me to come today, ‘e knows what your parties can be like.” More cracks from the garden announced the arrival of Ron and Hermione.
“Somebody, anybody, pour me a drink!” exclaimed Ron as he came through the door, closely followed by Hermione. Greetings and congratulations sounded from all corners of the room and then the room went silent as Ron stepped forwards.
“Wot you lot doin’ ‘ere then.” he said, looking around as though surprised at the gathering.
“Never been known to miss a party,” Seamus retorted, “get on with it.”
“Alright then.” Ron produced a small box from his pocket and opened it. Hermione came and stood beside him. Ron looked her in the eye as he took her hand and said solemnly “Hermione will you promise to love and support me until I can pay for this ring?” Everybody laughed at that, including Hermione who replied,
“Yes Ron, I will, and I hope it takes a long, long time, a lifetime in fact.”
“Me too.” said Ron, he placed the ring on her finger and kissed her before continuing, “let the party commence.”
“At long last!” exclaimed Seamus. Bill Weasley stepped forward and held up his hand.
“One more thing before we start. As this seems to be a day for good news, what better time to tell you all that Fleur and I are expecting a baby!” The Weasley’s stood stunned in total silence before Molly ran to embrace her son.
“Oh Bill, that’s wonderful, I’m so happy for you,” she pulled Fleur into the huddle that now consisted of, Ginny, Ron and George and Arthur. Ginny returned to Harry’s side with tears of joy in her eyes.
“What a day! First I get a new sister and now I’m going to be an aunty.”
“It’s going to be a girl, you know.” said Luna in her familiar dreamy voice.
“How do you know?” said Harry, thinking that he should know better than to ask.
“Just look at Fleur,” Luna said, “it’s obvious isn’t it!” Harry shook his head.
“Luna you are one of a kind.” He laughed. As the party continued into the early hours, Arthur Weasley, seemingly the worse for wear stumbled into his youngest son.
“Ah Ron.” he said his speech a little slurred, “I’m going to sit down in that armchair over there, grab a chair and join me, there is something we should talk about.” He staggered off to the designated armchair. Ron arrived only seconds later, chair in hand, only to find his father sound asleep.
“Nice talking to you Dad, we’ll have to do it again sometime.”
“He’s very tired isn’t he?” A small voice behind him said. It was Luna. “I hope you’ll be very happy Ron, I hope too that one day it will happen for me.”
“Thanks Luna, just you be patient, it will.”
“I’m not so sure, I am loony after all.” The sound of the wistful little voice moved Ron.
“Hey… don’t talk like that. I’m so sorry I ever called you that, and if I hear anyone call you that from now on, I’ll thump them.” He put his arms around her and gave her a brotherly sort of hug. It lasted only a few seconds before Luna murmured,
“Thank you Ron, but you’ll have to let go now, Hermione is watching.”
“Don’t worry about her.” He squeezed a bit harder.
“I’m not worried about her… I’m worried about what she will do to you” Ron paused for a moment and said with a smile,
“You can be a cheeky little cow, can’t you?” he turned to see Hermione coming towards them.
“It’s very late, I should be going.” Luna replied smiling, as Hermione joined them.
“It is late, why don’t you stay, Luna,” she turned to Ron, “your Dad wouldn’t mind would he? I’m sure we could find space for another bed in my room.”
“Or mine.” said Ron, with a grin. Hermione put the stiletto heel of her shoe on Ron’s foot,
“Actually she could use your bed while you’re in St. Mungo’s.” she said putting gradual pressure through her leg. Ron grimaced.
“Okay, point taken. I’ll go and check with Mum.” He walked off with a pretend limp.
“He’s a nice boy you know.” said Luna, watching Ron hobble away.
“I know, that’s probably why I love him.”
“You know, I always thought that I didn’t have any friends, but I realised something tonight. I do don’t I? I mean there is you and Ron, Harry, Ginny, Neville, Seamus and Dean. You’re all my friends aren’t you?” Hermione, like Ron, was moved,
“Of course we are, absolutely.” She thought for a moment, “In fact Luna, would you do me a big favour and be my bridesmaid?” Tears welled up into Luna’s eyes. Hermione was astounded. In all the years they had known each other she had never seen Luna show any form of real emotion, even during the stressful time at the Malfoy Mansion and Shell Cottage.
“Are you sure you want me? I’ll probably mess it up, being so weird and all.”
“Weird or not, yes I do want you, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked you.”
“Then yes I’d love to do it. What do I have to do?”
“Tonight, nothing. There’s lots of planning to do, but there’s also plenty of time to do it.” Hermione took Luna to sort out her sleeping arrangements, while Harry, Ginny, Ron and George started clearing up after the departing guests. When the last one had left, Molly took charge.
“We can do this quicker with our wands.” she said. Five minutes of mayhem followed after which Molly was satisfied. Hermione came back downstairs,
“Luna’s gone to bed.” She slumped into a chair next to Ginny and they began to talk weddings. Molly said goodnight to everybody, Ron and Harry helped her to take Arthur upstairs.
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