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Chapter 12 : Chapter 12
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An hour later Ginny was ready to depart. She was travelling by the Floo Network. Most of her brothers had already said their goodbyes. Harry, Ron, Hermione and her parents were all that remained. Ron hugged his baby sister.
“Good luck Ginny, show them what a Weasley can do.” He grinned, “While you still are one, that is.” Hermione, practical as ever asked.
“Isn’t it going to be difficult carrying your broom while you are using the Floo Network?”
“I’ll manage somehow, it will be okay.” Hermione produced her wand and pointing at the broom said,
“Minimo.” Everyone stared as the broom reduced in size to about a foot long. Now it would fit comfortably in Ginny’s travel bag.
“Thanks Hermione that’s great. But how do I…”
“Maximo.” Everyone was looking at her. “Standard Book of Spells, NEWT level.” she explained.
“That’s why none of us know it then.” said Ron. Another slap from his Mum hit the back of his head; he turned to her and raised a playful fist, “Mum, one of these days…”
“Good luck Ginny.” said Hermione, she grabbed Ron by the arm and dragged him from the room. Molly and Arthur followed shortly after and finally Ginny and Harry were alone. They faced each other.
“Not too much fuss Harry, I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“I know.” Harry began, “But even so, I’ll miss you. Listen, if you happen to come across the male equivalent of a Veela, you’ll stay clear won’t you?”
“Yeah” she replied thoughtfully, she smiled the little smile that Harry knew so well, “Well, probably.” Harry grinned and they kissed.
“See you tomorrow.” she said.
“Can’t wait.” he replied. And then she was gone. Ron and Hermione returned.
“When is our big day then, bro’?” Ron asked.
“Tomorrow, if it was up to me.” Harry answered. “But if Ginny is successful today, I wouldn’t hold my breath.” Hermione gave a little chuckle.
“You sound as though your opinion matters on the subject Harry. Details like that will be decided by Mrs. Weasley, Ginny and me, even the Deputy Minister of Magic himself won’t be allowed an opinion, you just have to turn up where and when you’re told to. You don’t want her to fail this trial do you?”
“Of course not, but can you imagine if I missed the wedding because nobody told me?” He sighed. “Oh well, shall we go for a walk?”
“No thanks mate.” said Ron. Hermione smiled inwardly.
The next afternoon found Harry counting the minutes until Ginny’s return. He was actually out in the garden when the empty fireplace in the kitchen flared green flames and Ginny stepped out. Harry raced inside and went to kiss her.
“Not again.” moaned Ron. Ginny’s eyes hardened as she looked at her brother,
“Get used to it Ron, you’ll be seeing it a lot.”
“How did it go?” Harry asked.
“Okay, I think. But the training, well if you thought we trained hard for Gryffindor believe me that was nothing.”
“I told you it would be like that. And the verdict?”
“I should hear within the week. I am not going to sleep much for the next few days.” As it turned out an owl arrived two days later with a letter bearing the logo of the Holyhead Harpies. Ginny stared at it for a minute, then taking a deep breath, ripped it open. The silence was intense.
“Well?” said Harry.
“I’ve got to go back, they want to talk about a contract.” she then became proof that people can laugh and cry at the same time.
“Ginny, that’s brilliant; I can’t believe it. Well done.” Harry thought for a moment, “I’m just going out for a while, I won’t be long.” Before anyone could speak he dashed into the garden and disapparated.
“Where has he gone in such a rush?” Ron asked. Nobody knew so nobody replied.
An hour later Harry returned. Ginny opened the door to find Harry on the step.
“Where have you been?” She demanded.
“Shopping.” Harry’s grin irritated her even more.
“Shopping! Well what for? I don’t see any shopping.”
“Go back inside and close your eyes and I’ll bring it in.” For one of the few times in her life Ginny did as she was told, muttering under her breath about ‘silly games’.
“Now put your hands out, palms upward.” Once again Ginny obliged. Harry reached to the side of the doorframe, picked up a package, unwrapped it and placed the contents in Ginny’s outstretched hands.
“Okay you can open your eyes.” Ginny gasped as her eyes lighted on a brand new broom. “Nothing but the best for a Harpie.”
“Oh Harry, thank you. It’s… oh wow… a Firebolt Two. Thank you. I’ve got to try it now. Come and watch.” She ran into the garden, swung her leg over the broom, giving Harry a flash of her knickers as she did so. How many times have I told her that flying in a skirt was not a good idea, he asked himself. She kicked off the ground and was surprised when nothing happened. “Harry, I don’t understand, what’s wrong?
“You haven’t read the manual have you?”
“Manual? I know how to fly Harry, I don’t need the manual.” He tossed her the booklet. She soon found the paragraph titled ‘Before First Flight’. A new feature of the broom was the need to ‘bond’ with it. It would fly well for her but would give anybody else a lot of trouble. She stood still with her eyes closed. Her thighs tightened their grip on the broom; she put her right hand on the handle and her left hand over her heart. After a few seconds she gave a shiver and took off. Harry watched smiling as she looped, swerved and flung herself around the sky for fifteen minutes and then landed breathlessly beside him. “It’s fantastic Harry. How can I ever repay you?” He looked at her suggestively.
“Mmm… I’ll think of something.”
“Oh come on… it’s only a broom after all.” she said. Harry laughed.
The next day, soon after lunch Hermione and Ron set off for her parents’ home in Basingstoke. On arrival they were met by officials from the Ministry.
“Henry Arbuthnot, Miss Granger, so pleased to meet you. Things are proceeding according to plan and your parents are due in about fifteen minutes. They will be apparating into the garden. We then have to complete the memory modification, which will take about an hour. Our problem will be what to do with you for that hour.”
“Perhaps we should have borrowed Harry’s cloak.” said Ron.
“I know where we can wait.” Hermione responded. “We can sit in my old bedroom. Then just before you finish what you have to do, we can slip outside the front door, ready to enter.”
“That will be fine Miss Granger. I suggest you come in now, they will be here soon.” Hermione led Ron into the house and showed him round. She quickly made two cups of coffee and they headed upstairs into Hermione’s bedroom.
“What do you think?” she asked him. He looked around the room.
“It’s a bit girly, isn’t it? All pink and white.”
“I can’t imagine why that is.” said Hermione sarcastically.
“It’s very nice, really. Now all we have to do is wait. We have an hour to kill.” He looked at the bed and then back at Hermione. “Any ideas?”
“Yes I have, Ron,” she spoke softly, smiled seductively and brushed her lips on his before whispering in his ear, “but they’re probably not the same as yours.” Ron did not find that at all funny.
Back at the Burrow, Harry and Ginny were in the living room. Harry was reading a book entitled ‘The Skills of the Auror.’ Ginny was on the sofa, her legs curled under her, idly turning the pages of a magazine. “I wonder how things are going in Basingstoke?” she mused, flipping over another page.
“They’ll be okay.” said Harry, only half listening.
“It’s nice that Ron is meeting her relatives, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I suppose so.” said Harry idly.
“Can I meet your relatives then?” Harry closed his book, he may not have been paying attention, but he heard that.
“I haven’t got any.”
“Well you’ve got one uncle, one aunt and one cousin that I know of.” Harry looked amazed,
“You cannot mean the Dursleys. Ginny, are you nuts?” He was dumbfounded.
“No, but don’t you want to show me off. Are you ashamed of me?”
“Of course I’m not, but the Dursleys…,” he paused, hardly believing what he was beginning to think, “they won’t be expecting it. will they? It might be a bit of a giggle at that.” He looked at Ginny, “Shall we?”
“How do we get there?” Ginny asked, Harry thought hard, but the answer was obvious.
“I know,” he said “we’ll go by the Floo Network to Mrs. Figgs house and walk across the road.”
“When shall we go? Tomorrow?” Harry stood up, “Yeah, why not. I’ll go and get the Floo booking sorted.”
There was a gentle tap on Hermione’s bedroom door, Ron opened it to see Mr. Arbuthnot, who smiled and said,
“We are nearly ready to lift the Imperius, Miss Granger. If you go to the front door now and wait for five minutes before entering, we will be gone. I’ll put these cups away in the kitchen for you.” Hermione and Ron went quietly downstairs and positioned themselves outside. As they waited, Ron kept glancing at his watch, eventually saying,
“Times up.” Hermione took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. Her father answered the ring and a huge smile came to his suntanned face,
“Hello Kitten. Lovely to see you.” he said embracing his daughter, “Come in love, come in.” She could not speak at first and as she hugged her Dad the safe feeling of his arms around her, that she had known as a child, returned.
“Hi Dad, how are you?” her voice choking.
“Mum’s in the living room, go on in.” He turned to Ron and held out his hand.
“You must be Ronald; Hermione has told us all about you.” Ron took the offered hand.
“Oh, I hope not Mr. Granger.”
“Ha ha, a sense of humour, I like that. Come in lad, come in. Call me Frank.” They entered the living room to find Hermione and her mother in a tight embrace. They separated and Hermione took Ron by the elbow.
“Mum, Dad this is Ron, he has been looking forward to meeting you.” To Ron’s great surprise he did not feel the slightest bit nervous.
“How do you do, Mr. and Mrs. Granger, it’s a pleasure to meet you at last. Although I think I did see you once in Flourish and Blotts bookstore.”
“Sit down, sit down.” Jean Granger urged, “I’ve got some coffee ready to pour.” The Ministry men hadn’t missed any small details. There was even beer in the fridge.
“How long have you known Hermione, Ron?” Mr. Granger asked. Before Ron could reply Mrs. Granger returned with the coffee. When everyone was settled Ron spoke.
“We first met on the Hogwarts Express when we were eleven. But I must admit I thought she was a stuck up little know-it-all.” Hermione looked shocked.
“If she’s brought you to meet us, I’m guessing things have changed haven’t they?” said her Dad.
“Not really, she’s still a know-it-all.” He caught Hermione’s arm to stop her thumping him. “But now that’s one of the things I love about her.”
“You love….” started her Dad.
“Hermione! Is that what I think it is?” her Mum interrupted, pointing at her ring.
“Yes Mum, it is. Ron and I are engaged.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Granger, I’m sorry I didn’t have an opportunity to ask your approval.”
“Ron, I’m sure you will agree that we raised a level headed, sensible girl. So if she said yes to you, I couldn’t possibly say no. Now we just need to get to know you. Why don’t you stay the night? Is that possible?”
“Absolutely!” said her mother, “The spare room isn’t ready, but I’m sure Hermione could fix that very quickly. You have your wand, Hermione don’t you?”
“Yes Mum, I do. I’ll send a Patronus to the Burrow Ron, so they won’t worry.” Hermione and her mother disappeared upstairs. Mr. Granger laughed noticing Ron’s unease,
“Don’t worry Ron, we know we are Muggles, we are quite comfortable with talk of wands and Patronuses. Now tell me about your family. We did meet your parents that time in Diagon Alley, but your Dad kept bombarding us with so many questions that we really didn’t get to chat too much”
“How long have you got Mr. Granger? That could take some time.” It was well into the early hours when Hermione and Ron kissed goodnight on the landing. They were breathing heavily when she said,
“That’s your room Ron. I’ll see you in the morning. G’night love.” She opened the door to her room before turning to him with a grin, “And Ron… no sleepwalking okay.” she indicated her parent’s room, “They wouldn’t believe you and I’m not sure I would either.”
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