Chapter 9 : Chapter 8
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At ten minutes past twelve that Saturday, Harry and Ginny arrived in the kitchen of Frank and Jean Granger. The Grangers were away for the weekend which was part of the reason Hermione had suggested the visit. She was making sandwiches on the worktop. “Hi there, make yourselves comfortable I’ll have these finished in a minute.”
“We brought you a present Hermione, hope you like it.” She wiped her hands and turned to find Harry holding a bottle of Butterbeer. That made her smile, “I don’t suppose you’ve had one of these for a while.”
“It has been some time, Harry.”
“It’s best to let it settle for a while. George says that Butterbeer doesn’t apparate too well.” Ginny laid a small box on the table “These are from Mum, just a few Cauldron cakes.”
“Oh lovely, they must be better than the ones Robbie made during the summer, bless her. It’s a good job my Dad’s a dentist. They reminded me of Hagrid’s cooking.” Ginny smiled,
“She’s only fifteen, she has time to improve.”
“You haven’t.” Harry said.
“Up yours Potter, you can do the cooking from now on.”
“I see you two get on as well as ever.” said Hermione. Harry lifted Ginny’s hand,
“Hermione, I tease her, I insult her cooking I even criticise her handwriting. But I wouldn’t change one little thing about her.” Ginny looked at Hermione,
“Ah, listen to that Hermione; isn’t that nice, I don’t know whether to kiss him or… throw up!” When the laughter had subsided Hermione showed them around the extension to the house. It was a large extension, built to provide an area which was an apartment for Hermione and Robbie. She had her own sitting room and two bedrooms and a bathroom. It was cosy. The living room was tastefully furnished, on the walls were lots of photographs of Hermione and her daughter from a baby up to the present.
But pride of place went to the picture that Robbie had given Hermione so many years ago, positioned on the far wall so that it was visible from anywhere in the room. On a small shelf beneath it was a green beret, folded so that that the badge was visible. To one side of the picture was a glass case containing a medal. Robbie’s Military Cross. The silver cross hanging from a blue and white ribbon. Next to the medal were the two halves of a medallion. Hermione opened the door to Roberta’s room and looked inside and breathed a sigh of relief. It was tidy, well tidyish. Good enough for visitors. Harry and Ginny thought the room was spotless.
“Can we borrow Robbie for the summer, Hermione. She could teach our boys how to keep a room tidy. God knows I’ve tried.” said Ginny. On a wall was a huge photograph. It showed a group of men around a military vehicle. Hermione was silent as they looked at it. Harry spotted Robbie and Dusty immediately. Each man had his name neatly printed to identify them. Under every name except three there was the man’s signature. Harry looked at Hermione,
“That was Robbie’s troop, twenty two hours after that was taken, Robbie, Dusty and Adam were dead. Just after we moved in here when Robbie was about seven, she had some school friends around. They were in here, I was outside the door and I heard her telling her friends about it. She pointed and said ‘that’s my daddy, but he died’. Then she must have pointed to Dusty and Adam because she said, ‘these two died as well, but the others are OK. There’s twenty-one of them and they are all my godfathers.’ I had to go to my room and have a good cry. She sounded so wistful.” Harry noticed an empty space where a picture had been. “That’s where she hangs the picture of her Dad in his uniform. I could hear her every morning as she got up. She would always say ‘Good morning Daddy’, she takes the picture to school every term. Considering she never knew him, she loves him a lot. Oh come on, lets go back to the kitchen. I’ve got a bottle of Butterbeer to drink.”
They settled themselves around the kitchen table and started on the sandwiches. As three o’clock approached Hermione cleared the plates and cups away into the dishwasher. She opened a bottle of red wine poured a glass each for her guests. The Butterbeer behaved when she opened it and, scorning a glass, proceeded to drink from the bottle. “Gosh, that takes me right back to the Three Broomsticks. Okay let’s start. Tell me everything about everybody.” She noticed an uncomfortable look pass between Harry and Ginny. She helped them. “You can start with Ron. It’s okay, really.” Harry looked at Ginny as if to say ‘you go first’. Ginny sent the same message to him. He lost.
“Ron was in a bad way after your visit. About two months later he and I overdid the Firewhisky one night and we had a fight. Not just words either. Outside the Burrow we had a knock down, drag out, fistfight over something trivial. I lost. We hurt each other, but I lost. Neither of us was a pretty sight the next morning.”
“You can say that again.” said Ginny, “Black eyes, split lips, battered hands. He couldn’t kiss me for a week. Not that I wanted him to after that display. Mum and I wanted to stop them but Dad prevented us. He had seen the tension building, it needed releasing he said. It was disgusting. But even Ron admits that it was the fight that turned him round. So some good did come out of it.” Harry resumed the tale,
“He smartened himself up. The next weekend we told him we were going on a double date, he asked who with and we said ‘you and whatever female you can find as long as she’s human.’ For a laugh we suggested Luna. He brought Katie Bell and kept on seeing her after.” Ginny took over,
“She was concerned about being the ‘rebound girl’ but he stuck at it. They were married two years later in a double ceremony with us. They have two children Rose and Hugo. They’re doing OK. Rose starts at Hogwarts next year, so he’ll be at the station. How will you feel about seeing him?” Hermione had finished her Butterbeer and complained that Harry had only brought one bottle,
“Hey, you might not use magic, but I do.” He pointed his wand and watched as the bottle refilled. “Will it bother you, seeing Ron I mean.” Hermione sighed,
“Whenever I have thought about you all, and Ron in particular, the picture I have is that last visit. It’s a horrible memory. I think that if I could see him happy and content, then I can put the other image away and forget it. So I’d like to see him. How do you think he will react?” It was Ginny who answered,
“He will be fine. He is able to talk about you, and when we got your letter he was as shocked and upset as the rest of us, so I don’t think you need worry about it. I think he would like to see you, and for the same reasons.”
“Then hopefully there won’t be a problem. What are the kids like?”
“Rose is a redhead of course, but Hugo has more of Katie’s colouring. Rose wants to be a writer, she already has a plot for her first book. Get this, it’s about an orphan boy with a scar who doesn’t know he’s a wizard. Sound familiar?” Hermione laughed,
“Well, she won’t have to go far to do her research will she!”
“Tell her about the villain of the piece.” said Harry.
“Oh yeah,” said Ginny, “There is an evil wizard called Windyfart.”
“Windyfart! There’s nothing like a child’s imagination is there. If she succeeds make sure you send me a copy.” The telling went back to Harry.
“Hugo wants to play Quidditch, he’s a good flyer for his age, and it runs in the family. But more of that later. Who is next Ginny?”
“George. You won’t believe it Hermione, but George is a very, very wealthy man. Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes is a multi-national company. He has stores in Paris, New York, Tokyo and Sydney. He married Angelina and they live in what used to be Malfoy Manor, it’s now Weasley Hall. They have a boy and a girl. The boy is Fred of course, and Roxanne. Ron is his manager for this country where there are stores in Hogsmeade, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Plymouth, as well as Diagon Alley.” Hermione could not help but be impressed,
“Wow, all that grew out of your Triwizard winnings Harry.”
“Yeah. That reminds me, he hasn’t paid me back yet.” More laughter. Hermione was glad she had invited them. Ginny continued
“Bill and Fleur have two girls and a boy. Victoire and Dominique go to Beauxbatons but Louis will go to Hogwarts, next year I think. Bill is now quite senior at Gringotts, for a non-goblin that is. Percy married a girl called Audrey, she’s as bonkers as he is. He’s got the job that Dad used to have. Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office. They have two daughters Molly and Lucy who are both as cute as you could imagine. That leaves Charlie. He’s not married. Let’s just say that girls aren’t his thing. Mum and Dad are happy in their retirement. George wanted them to move to Weasley Hall, but they won’t because, as George puts it, they planted Fred in the garden. Dad still loves to mess around with Muggle stuff. Blows himself up from time to time. George is planning to build a new Burrow for them sometime next year. So there you are that’s the Weasleys”
“Except you two, what about you?”
“Well I’m the Deputy Chief Auror at the Ministry. Jonas Cobb retires in two years and then who knows. We have three children. James you’ve met, then there’s Albus and Lily.”
“I’ll say one thing for the Weasleys, they breed well don’t they. I make that twelve grandchildren for Arthur and Molly. There again they had seven so I suppose they started it.” Harry agreed,
“Now, the real surprise is Ginny. For five years she… well, read this.” He reached into a bag and pulled out an old copy of the Daily Prophet. Hermione unfolded it and read the headline. “England win World Quidditch Final.” She could not connect the headline with Ginny until she read the story which began. ‘Despite the absence of star chaser Ginny Potter, England won the World Cup, beating Italy in Milan…’ Hermione looked at Ginny,
“England… star chaser, oh you’ve got to tell me this story.”
“I didn’t want to be just Harry Potter’s girlfriend, or wife. So I tried out for the Holyhead Harpies, and it seems I was quite good. I played in the World Cup semi final and got injured. While the Healers were fixing me up they discovered I was pregnant. They wouldn’t let me play in the final. I was furious, and not at all happy right up until the moment they put James in my arms. Then it didn’t matter any more.” Harry reached into the bag once more,
“She doesn’t know I brought this, but I wondered if Robbie might like it.” He gave her a folded poster. Hermione opened it and saw Ginny in her England colours, red hair streaming behind her, flying her Firebolt Two.
“Harry, she will love it. That will hang in the Gryffindor Common Room for sure.”
“Ginny will sign it for her, won’t you Ginny?”
“How to embarrass your wife. Lesson one.” said Ginny, to Harry she said, “When we get home you and I will be having a chat Potter.”
“And I’d like to be a fly on the wall when you do.” Hermione laughed again. “Are you still playing?”
“No, I retired when I found out I was expecting Lily. I do some part time coaching and I’m the Quidditch correspondent for the Prophet.”
“Er… Will that be a ‘before going to bed’ chat or an ‘after going to bed’ chat?” Harry asked.
“Oh ‘before’, definitely ‘before’.”
“Oh, then that’s not good.” The wine bottle was empty, when Hermione went to get another, Harry stopped her and refilled the one they had. The clock on the wall showed six-thirty. None of them knew where the time had gone. Hermione suggested going out for a meal.
“This is a nice piece of kit.” Harry said, admiring Hermione’s large CD player.
“It’s okay; considering it only ever plays one song. Robbie sometimes uses it, but mostly she plays her stuff in her room.” She picked the small remote control. Harry sat down, Hermione stood in front of the machine as the disc inside began to spin up to speed. She selected a song and her two visitors sensed the change that came over her. Her face lifted and her eyes closed, and she began to sway slightly to the music. She was dancing inside her head. She looked so lonely. Ginny whispered to Harry,
“Go on.” Harry stood behind Hermione, she sensed him there,
“Dance with me Harry?” Ginny nodded in agreement.
“Hermione I’m not… I’m not Robbie. Maybe it’s not a good idea.”
“Let me pretend Harry, please.” He was at least three inches shorter than Robbie, so her head was on his shoulder rather than his chest as she snuggled into his arms. ‘Are you my life to be, my dream come true’ sang Sinatra, “I'm listening to the words Robbie,” she murmured, her tears starting to flow. Harry held her tight. His heart was hurting for this girl in his arms, this girl he had loved for so long. They turned slowly and he could see the tears in Ginny’s eyes.
The song ended, but he did not let go. Hermione began to sob quietly. “I’m sorry, Hermione, I said it might be a bad idea, I’m sorry.”
Hermione dried her eyes. “Thank you Harry. Sorry about the waterworks. It was nice to be able to pretend, even for a couple of minutes. Even after all this time I miss him so damned much. I always will.”
“Come on, let’s go out and eat.” He replied
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