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Chapter 8 : A Fresh Start
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Helen and Richard woke early to the smell of bacon frying. They dressed quickly to help with breakfast. "Good morning" they said to Arthur and Molly who were having coffee.
"Good morning dears. Sleep well?" asked Molly.
"Like a log" said Richard. One of the side effects of the hangover potion was a sound sleep. In his case it was in all their best interests. After the altercation between him and Harry, it had been a late night. The four of them stayed up talking about their children. Molly and Arthur also talked more about the Wizarding Wars. She lost her twin brothers Fabian and Gideon during the first one. They were both pranksters, like her Fred and George.
"I know you don't want to hear this Richard, but if Hermione had not done what she did you would have been tortured and killed. I am sure of that. Would you have wanted her to be an orphan like Harry?" asked Arthur last night. Richard had not looked at it that way.
"Arthur. Molly, thank you for letting us stay last night. We did not deserve that, after I ruined our children's day. I want to apologize to you and the rest of the family. It never dawned on us to look at from Hermione's view. She was protecting us not mistreating us." said Richard.
"You should have seen her before it. She agonized over it. All three of them took great pains to protect us before they left. We were attacked during Bill and Fleur's wedding. They barely escaped that day" said Molly.
"What can I do to help this morning?" asked Helen. Usually she was busy getting several things at once ready.
"Nothing Helen thank you" Molly said, with a twinkle in her eye. Helen looked at the stove. She saw frying pans being stirred, and dishes being washed. "Not used to a witches kitchen are you."
Helen shook her head, amazed at all that was happening. She also saw laundry being folded, and a roast being prepared for dinner. "I wish I could do magic" she said to no one in particular.
"But you can" said Percy. He had just sat down for a quick coffee before heading to the Ministry. He and his father had a meeting this morning with the minister, and would meet them at Gringotts at Noon. "We all share in the greatest magic of all. The power of love. For a while, I was a fool. I only wanted fame. I wanted to be the perfect ministry employee. Do what you're told. Don't think. It was almost too late before I realized how wrong I was. Nothing is more important than love and family. I could have lost both that day. Ron and Hermione, and Ginny and Harry, exemplify this. They would do anything, risk anything, for us. Spend some time with them. Really get to know them. It makes you feel good just to be standing next to them."
"If they let us that is." Richard sighed. "They left last night because of me. How do I know they will even let me apologize? I'm sure Ginny and Harry don't care. We are not family to them."
"Oh yes you are "said Charlie. "We are all family. Including Harry. He has been from the start. Even if he and Ginny were not together, he still would be. We consider him our brother, and Hermione our sister. So when they actually get married doesn't matter to me. You two are part of our family now, like it or not."
"Arthur, how did our kids get so smart?" asked Molly.
"From you dear. It all comes from you" said Arthur, kissing her on the way to the floo. "Oh and by the way, when we meet them later, what did we decide last night?"
"Not to get mad at them. Or tell them what they did was inappropriate" said Molly. "Now, off you go. Your meeting started five minutes ago."
* * *
"So, what should we do this morning? We have until noon, so how about if we leave early? We can wander around Diagon Alley. I bet you have never been there before when it wasn't crowded. Maybe check on George. Make sure he doesn't get busy and forget."
They all agreed. Helen insisted on trying to help clean up after breakfast, but she couldn't find anything to do that magic wasn't already doing. Richard sat in the parlor, looking at all the magical things happening around him. He finally understood Hermione's fascination with all this, and why she spent each summer studying so hard. She always wanted to be the best at everything growing up. Here she had much more to learn than the outside, or muggle world, as they called it.
At about 10 they left. Their first stop was George's store. Hermione's parents were amazed at all the trinkets and gadgets the twins invented. George showed his newest, Ward Wobbles. If you slip this into someone's pocket, and they try to apparate, they will go back to where they started. Molly shut him up before he could explain how it got its name. They wandered from store to store, gazing in wonder at all the enchanted objects. Their last stop was in Olivanders. Molly wanted to check on him. He wasn't getting any younger. She introduced him to Hermione's parents.
"Mr. and Mrs. Granger, I am honored. Your daughter is an incredible person. 'The brightest witch of her age' many call her. I had quite a time finding her a wand which could keep up with her. To grow with her. It is a very rare gift she has, to be as intelligent as she is and to have such compassion. I want to congratulate all of you on the engagement. You all must be very proud. I suspect we will have another one to celebrate soon. You just missed the four of them. Quite amazing, aren't they. To be this wise, this mature, at their age."
Richard had turned to get the door, when he saw four people go past. They seemed larger than life. He could sense, and see, the love pouring out of them. "Helen who is that walking with Ron and Harry? They look like models I've seen on TV."
Helen and Molly were behind him. "Richard, those are our girls. Aren't they gorgeous?"
"And look at those dresses! They look fantastic, don't they Richard... Richard?" Helen shook her husband's arm. He turned to her, tears in his eyes. "My baby has grown up, hasn't she? Where has all the time gone?"
"Try to remember what we talked about last night. This is not an end, it is a beginning. A new chapter in all our lives. And trust me it gets better. I can't wait for the grandchildren" said Molly. They said their goodbyes to Olivander, and headed for Gringotts.
* * *
The quartet stepped into Gringotts. Griphook was in the lobby waiting for them. "Good morning. We expected you to be early. Today will be a momentous day. Please come this way. We are using one of the conference rooms."
They followed Griphook to the room they had used while the vaults were being cleaned. There was a large conference table filled with papers, along with a smaller one with refreshments. "Thank you Griphook. Is it OK if we start looking at these? Hermione and Ron may choose to leave early."
"Not at all Mr. Potter. Please have them sign here, here, and here if they do. We will be transferring the gold after all signatures are in order. And congratulations to all of you." Griphook bowed, turned around, and left.
"What was that about?" asked Ron.
"They just want to keep us happy. Remember Harry controls one of their biggest accounts. They want to be on his good side" said Ginny.
"Can we get this over with? I would like to leave soon." Hermione was still ashamed of her father. He was normally a very even tempered man. Very rarely did he yell. Right now, she didn't want to be in the same room with him.
"Absolutely. Griphook said to sign in these three places. Who else do you want listed here?"
"You and Ginny mate. If we want to change it later, I bet they will let us" said Ron. "Let us know when you are done. I'm not sure where we will be."
"Grimmauld Place. I don't want anybody to see me like this." Hermione was up crying most of the night. Ginny cast a spell to try to hide it, but you could still she had a bad night.
"Hermione you look incredible. What if we go for a walk thru London. You know, what the muggles call 'window shopping'. As soon as Harry gives the OK, we can get some new clothes." Ron and Harry had outgrown all of theirs. Each were several inches taller now, and the girls were thinner and curvier. The quartet signed for the vaults for Hermione and Ron, and got up to walk out with them. They were met at the door by Griphook.
"Some of the others have arrived. Would you like me to show them in?" he asked.
"Who is here so far?" asked Ginny.
"Your mother, Miss Grangers parents, and William and Fleur Weasley" answered Griphook.
"Please have them wait until noon" said Harry. That gives them 15 minutes to come up with a plan.
"Very good Mr. Potter." Griphook bowed again, and left.
Ginny heard Hermione crying. Ron was holding her. There was only one door, so Hermione felt trapped. She wanted to leave.
"Do you want me to apparate you two out of here?' asked Harry.
Hermione looked at him. "You can't Harry. The goblins have safeguards against that."
Kreacher popped into the room. "Master Harry can. On the morning of the 'Heroes' ceremony, he wanted something from his vault. It took Master only five minutes to get there and back."
"Hermione, I can go out there and ask them to leave." Ginny was not happy last night. Right now, she didn't care if she never saw Hermione's father again.
'What would you like. I will do whatever you ask' said Ron to Hermione.
'I don't know Ron. I love my parents, but after last night, I can't stand the sight of them.'
'Never the less, they are your parents. I will leave the decision up to you.'
'It's what we fought this war for, wasn't it. For family.'
"I think we will stay. Thank you both for the offer. Besides, we want to spend as much time with Teddy as we can. It is less than two months until school starts. Let's make every minute count." Hermione took several deep breaths to calm herself.
"We can still go shopping Hermione. Teddy doesn't have any toys at Grimmauld Place. A stop for those, and maybe a little looking in Diagon Alley. Who knows what we might find." Ginny sent a mental picture to Hermione of looking for some lacy things for the boys, but they got a portion of the message intended for Hermione.
"Ginny I like my boxers. Why would I want fancy ones?" asked Ron with a straight face. It gave all five of them a good laugh, including Kreacher.
"Kreacher, in a minute would you please tell them we are ready." Harry walked up to Hermione and gave her a big hug. Ginny did the same, and one for Ron. "Now that you two are engaged, have you thought about where you will live. At the Burrow? Alone or together?"
"Harry that's none of our business. That question is inappropriate." Ginny was doing her best to imitate her mother. They all laughed.
"We have been talking about that. Wherever it is we want to be together. Maybe find a flat in London?" Hermione said.
"Not at the Burrow" said Ron. "That would be too weird. Or Hermione's parents."
"What about my place, at least for now. The whole third floor is not being used. Two bedrooms and a loo. It would give you a lot of privacy. You could run around naked, and no one would know." Harry didn't realize he said that, and they got another good laugh. "Since school is starting soon, you won't be rushed to find a place. How does that sound?"
"Harry I like the idea. Alone time, combined with our best friends. What more could we ask for. Ron does this sound good?"
"Not good. Brilliant. I don't know how Mom will take it, 'birds leaving the nest' and all that."
"I think she will be OK. After all, school is soon. Not even six weeks away." Ginny paused. "Yes Harry?"
"Well Ginny ... I was thinking ... Howwouldyouliketomoveinwithme?"
"I'm sorry Harry, what?" Ginny put her hand over her mouth. "Harry, did you just ask me to move in with you?"
"Yes. Yes I did. I don't expect you to answer me right now. Just think about it." Ginny walked up to Harry and gave him a very passionate kiss, not unlike the 'magical' one they shared that morning.
"You two have got to teach us that one." said Ron.
"It was incredible. The love just poured out of you two. I think I might actually be able to face my parents now" said Hermione.
* * *
The four of them sat at the table, on the side opposite the door. Ginny nodded to Kreacher, who went to the door to tell everyone the quartet were ready. Harry took two sets of paper had slid them in front of Ginny. He pointed to three spots for her to sign.
"Harry what are these for? The amounts don't make sense" she asked.
"These are my vaults, along with their current values. I want to add you, Ron, and Hermione. You know, just in case. I don't have any parents to put on them."
"Yes you do Harry. You have my Mom and Dad." said Ron.
"What about us?" asked Arthur. He and Molly, along with everyone except Andy and Teddy, were coming into the conference room. "Harry I have some great news. All the paperwork at the Ministry for the 'Heroes' project is completed. Once we give final approval on the blueprints, they can break ground. If all goes well, by the time Hogwarts opens it will be finished." Arthur knew what he was doing. Distract the kids so they stop thinking about last night. He could see Hermione had her head down trying to avoid eye contact.
Harry nodded at Arthur, and winked so Arthur would understand. "Dad do you have the blueprints with you? We would like to look at them today."
"Son yes I do." Arthur pulled two rolls of parchment from his briefcase. Harry set them aside with his other papers to be looked at later. Ginny passed the ones for Harry's vaults to Hermione and Ron, so they could sign them. Harry started a pile of completed ones for Griphook.
The door opened again, and Andy walked in with Teddy in her arms. "I am sorry we were late. Teddy decided he wanted to walk which meant we had to stop everywhere. He also found some interesting bugs, which I am sure didn't taste like chicken." Even the goblins laughed at the joke. She sat down with Teddy and the overnite bag. The rustling of papers woke him up, and he saw Harry and Ginny. "EE EE EE EE" he screamed, and crawled across the table, scattering all the papers. He jumped into Harry's arms, then he reached for Ginny too. They could feel he was trembling.
"He didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I feel sorry for the four of you" said Andy, shaking her head.
Ginny kissed Teddy on the forehead. Harry did the same. A green glow appeared where Ginny kissed him and he seemed to relax. Harry felt him playing with the front of his shirt.
"Harry he wants to see if you are OK" said Ginny. She unbuttoned the front of his shirt. She could hear her mother take a deep breath. 'So far so good. No scolding. Yet.' she said to the other three. She pulled open the front of Harry's shirt so Teddy could see it. Teddy bent over and kissed the spot where Richard kept poking him with his finger. He looked at Ginny to see if she was going to also. Ginny smiled and bent over to kiss Harry there. "Anything for you Teddy." She smiled at him and buttoned Harry's shirt for him, since his hands were full with a squirming Teddy.
Harry let him go, and he crawled across the piles of papers again, this time for Hermione and Ron. "O NI I EE" he said pulling them together like he did with Harry and Ginny. He kissed Hermione on the forehead. "Thank you Teddy. I am OK too" she said, holding him close. Teddy cuddled up with her, and fell asleep.
Seeing Teddy was settled Harry began talking softly. "Thank you all for coming today. We just need to each fill out a few papers, and then supervise the transfer of the gold into each of your vaults. I also need to move the 'Heroes' amount so we don't get confused which is which." He paused to see if anyone would get his joke. Only George gave him a 'thumbs up', so he continued. "My proposal was if you are over 25 it's yours. So Charlie and Bill will have immediate access. Everyone else will need a parent to say OK if they want to spend over 1000 galleons on something. Are we in agreement on all this?"
Arthur and Molly nodded their approval. Molly was still worried about the kids wasting the money. But she knew it was Harry's money and he didn't have to involve them. "Helen. Richard. What are your thoughts?" Molly asked.
Helen spoke first. "One thing first before I forget. You say you are building an orphanage? Will you need dental work for the children? We would be happy to volunteer to assist you" she said looking at her husband.
"Yes we would. If this is important to our daughter, then it is important to us" Richard said.
Hermione looked at her parents. They could see how they had hurt her. Once this meeting was over they hoped to talk to her.
"So Harry they tell me you are giving each person one million galleons. Why?" Richard still felt uncomfortable about Harry. He didn't understand why Harry was being so nice to his daughter. 'Did he want her for himself? He has a girl sitting next to him who is just as pretty.'
"Richard I have inherited a lot of money. Way more than I know what to do with. It is only right that I share it with my family. I love Hermione. She is the sister I never had, and all the Weasleys are the family I did not have growing up. We have been there for each other thru good times and bad. Right now, this is a really good time. Also some of this money may have belonged to the Weasleys centuries ago, so I am returning it to them. My portion of that I am donating to the 'Heroes' fund. I don't want a penny." Harry was starting not to like Hermione's father. He seemed overly critical of things.
'Maybe he is the kind of person that goes thru life trying to find fault in things.'
'I don't know sweetheart. Hermione, and Ron are the ones who have to live with him, in a manner of speaking' said Harry.
'Let's keep this moving along. The sooner we get done, the sooner we leave.'
Harry continued. "There is one minor change I would like to make. The four of us are going back to school soon. All our clothes were destroyed or we outgrew them. I want to give Ginny, Ron, and Hermione an additional 10,000 galleons each to cover those costs, and school supplies."
Molly started to protest "With all the money they have they do not need ..." She stopped when Arthur nudged her under the table. "I'm sorry Harry, you are right. A complete new wardrobe, books, supplies. It can add up." Molly was gritting her teeth during this. She kept trying to remind herself this was Harry's money. He had the right to throw it in the ocean if he wanted. And all the kids except Ginny were of age now. If she was not careful she would lose this battle, and push her kids away at the same time.
"So there will be 10,000 galleons more. What is the exchange rate on a galleon?" asked Richard.
"At this time, one galleon is worth approximately 5 pounds sterling" said Griphook.
"So you are giving my daughter over 5 million pounds and you have no ulterior motive? How can you expect me to believe that?"
"Actually you are wrong Mr. Granger. Since Ron and Hermione are getting married, she will be sharing ten million pounds" said Ginny. Like Harry she did not like the way this conversation was going. "Ron? What time is your appointment? Don't you two need to be going? Isn't that why we came early?"
"Thank you Ginny. I almost forgot. We will meet you and Teddy later." Ron handed Teddy to Harry, took Hermione's hand, and got up to say goodbye. They headed for the door, but Richard tried to step in front of them.
"Young lady, get over here right now. Your mother and I have a few things to say to you. If you think we are going to let someone give you 5 million pounds without telling us why, you are crazy."
"Who's crazy?" asked Charlie under his breath. Arthur kicked him under the table.
"Harry already has. We signed the papers earlier today. Harry and I are on their paperwork, and they are on ours. So you see, your approval is not necessary. Thank you for coming in today." Ginny said in a flat voice, as business like as possible.
"GINEVRA" said Arthur.
Ginny turned to her father. "Yes Dad. Can we help you with something?'
"We all need to step back. Hermione. Ron, you said you need to get somewhere. Can you wait a few more minutes please?" asked Arthur.
Ron looked at Hermione. She nodded and they sat back down.
Arthur continued. "Harry I cannot express how grateful we all are to you for what you are doing. First for getting me back on the Wizengamot. Then, for sharing that money with us. I can see Richard that you don't trust what you don't understand. Harry is not a man of ulterior motives. You may take him at face value. If you cannot accept that, than I do not know what else to tell you." Arthur sat back down.
Teddy started to fuss, so Harry handed him back to Hermione. Andy handed her his bottle. She held it in her hand to warm it, checked the temperature, and gave it to him. He fell back asleep.
"I guess he can do two things at once too. Now Hermione if only I could learn how to eat and sleep at the same time, I would be in heaven." said Ron.
"But I thought you said you were in heaven when you were with me" laughed Hermione. That helped to break the tension in the room. Right on cue, Teddy changed. He now had Ron's freckles and eyes, and Hermione's nose and hair. Andy pulled out the letter the quartet had sent. She passed it around the table. "Awww" was everyone's response. Molly and Helen each reached across the table to pinch Harry's cheek. "Hey get your own. This one's mine" Ginny said to the other women. She hooked her arm in Harry's, marking her territory.
"Harry did you write this?" asked Richard.
"Yes Daddy he did. Harry is like the brother I never had. I love him and all the Weasleys, but Ron is the one I want to marry."
"Princess I am sorry. Sorry I ruined last night for you and Ron, and sorry I almost made you walk out on our lives. I guess over the years I have had so many people try to use me, or take advantage of me, that I have become overly suspicious. Please give me a second chance."
"Of course Daddy. That's what families are for. To forgive and forget. Right Ron?"
"Sir, if you are willing to forget about this, then we are too" Ron said, as he shook his future father-in-law's hand. Richard hugged Hermione, and Helen came over too.
Richard and Helen returned to their seats. "So now where were we? Harry, we are glad our daughter has someone in her life like you, and the Weasleys" said Richard. "What else needs to be discussed before all the paperwork is finished?"
"I believe you left off with apologizing ..." said Ginny. He was not getting off this easily.
"GINEVRA MOLLY WEASLEY. HOW DARE YOU ..." responded Molly.
"No Molly she is right." Richard turned to Harry. "For seven years our daughter has talked about Harry Potter. It was so incredible, it could not possibly all be true. And drinking too much last night didn't help matters. Please accept my apology for everything I said and did, to both you and your Godson." Harry shook hands, and glanced at Hermione. She mouthed 'thank you' to him. Teddy had finished his bottle, and was shaking his finger at Richard. "Yes Teddy, I was a bad boy. But see, It's all better now." Teddy smiled too. He was developing a link with the quartet, so since they were happy he was too.
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