Chapter 5 : Chapter 5
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“Lunch everyone!” came Mrs Weasley’s voice from the kitchen, shaking Harry from his thoughts. Turning, he entered the Kitchen to rejoin the others. The kitchen was a shambles as the girls finished the last of the food. Ginny rolled her eyes at him, gesturing to the amount of it before turning back to her work.
“Harry dear, can you please take these outside?” asked Mrs Weasley, handing him an armful of cutlery.
Harry carried them outside where he finished setting the table under Mr Weasley’s watchful eyes. There were too many of them to all fit inside and besides, Mrs Weasley had wanted it special, being their last meal together. Mr and Mrs Weasley, him, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Bill and Fleur, Charlie, Percy, George, even Kingsley had turned up, taking time out of his busy schedule. Everyone but Fred.
The meal started solemnly, with Mr Weasley rising to give a speech.
“During the war, we lost many friends and family members. Fred was lost to us. But thanks to your ingenuity, courage and selflessness, we might be able to regain him once more. That is what today symbolises; the hope of having him returned to us. Whether we succeed or fail, I just want you all to know that I can’t be prouder of each of you...”
His voice breaking up he stopped for a minute as everyone waited patiently.
“For Fred!” he cried lifting his glass.
“For Fred!” echoed everyone else, copying his toast.
The feast started and Harry had to admit that the girls had outdone themselves. The food was amazing and he had a feeling that there was more of it than even the Weasleys could eat. Despite the feeling of nervous anticipation, conversation gradually broke out and the tension in the air dissipated.
“How are you Harry?” came a deep rumble from across the table.
“Yeah, alright” he responded, looking up to meet Kingsley’s eyes.
He suddenly realised how little he knew of what was going on elsewhere. He’d been so focussed on himself and the aftermath of the last battle, particularly Fred’s death that he hadn’t even thought to find out.
“How’s the Ministry going? Who’s in charge now?”
Kingsley grinned at him.
“Merlin, you really have been out of touch.”
“Sorry, I’ve just had so many other things to think about...”
“It’s fine,” he chuckled. “Well, the Ministry has been holding major internal investigations of those that were part of Voldemort’s regime. Several have been convicted, you’ll be glad to note that Dolores Umbridge is amongst them, though others are denying everything or claiming use of the Imperious Curse. It’s the same story as last time.”
He sighed, looking unhappy at this.
“Still, hopefully we can gain some result from the trials when they occur. The Ministry has been a bit busy at the moment, so most people are just being held until we can deal with them. Ministry coffers have also been broken open to help with rebuilding and helping war victims much to the annoyance of a few of the old order who hold the gold more important than the prosperity of the community. Still, we’re making progress, though it might be quicker if there was a better person in charge.”
“Who is the new Minister for Magic?” Harry asked, curious. He hoped it was someone between Fudge and Scrimgeour. Competent but able to listen to others as well.
“You?!” That took Harry aback. “Wow, erm, congratulations!”
“It’s only temporary,” Kingsley laughed. “Just until the current crisis is sorted out and then elections will be held. But they seemed to think I was the best person at the moment.”
“So how come you’re here then if you’ve got so much work to do?”
“Well, they’ll have to travel from the Ministry, that’s where the international travel happens. I figure I owe it to you guys for your help in the War. Plus it’s good to have a break once in a while. There’s so much happening in the world. Speaking of which...”
He broke off and looked meaningfully across at Hermione who shuffled in her seat and looked across at Ron. Ron coughed, opened his mouth and looked back down. Hermione gave him a subtle kick which earned her a glare but not much else. Harry, whose interest was definitely piqued by now, looked questioningly at Hermione.
“Harry and Ginny, you know how Ron and I are planning to go back to Australia to find my parents? Well, we’ve arranged it so that we’ll be leaving shortly as well.”
“What?!” cried Ginny disbelievingly.
“I’m sorry you didn’t know earlier,” a remorseful Hermione explained, “but it was all a bit last minute. We’re already connected to the Ministry’s floo network, so we thought we’d take advantage of it. We only just decided yesterday and would have told you then but Ronald wanted to broach the news.”
She stopped to glare across at Ron who had the grace to blush and stammered out a reply.
“Well, at least we shouldn’t be too long. I mean, how hard can it be to find 2 people in Australia? It’s only a small country anyway.”
Ginny shook her head despairingly at him but said nothing. Harry leaned back in his chair and stared out the window.
He was a bit shocked by the speed of events, losing five of his friends in a day.
Logically he was okay with Ron and Hermione leaving. Hermione was stressed about them and there was really no time like the present. The selfish part of him just wanted them to stay. For the past year, they’d been his life and comfort and he didn’t know he could cope with them gone. But he knew he couldn’t argue.
“Good luck then you two.”
Hermione looked at him sympathetically as if she knew exactly what he was thinking and reached out to grab his hand. Ron didn’t even seem to mind.
Harry stood once more in the living room, feeling a bit of an outsider as the Weasleys made their emotional goodbyes. He looked up and met Hermione’s eyes as she gave him a small grin to show that she felt the same way. But soon it was his turn and he stepped forward to clasp the arm of each of the brothers in turn, wishing them luck and safe travels as the others had before him (though maybe not quite as many tears or kisses as Fleur had for Bill). Nobody knew what to say and the uncertainty of the situation diffused the room. As Harry stepped back, Bill cleared his throat.
“Well, this is it. We won’t be seeing you guys for a while but we promise to keep in touch. If anything happens, you’ll be the first to know.”
As Mrs. Weasley sniffed proudly, the three of them turned and approached the fireplace. Throwing the floo powder in, they stepped into the fireplace with their bags and were whisked off to the Ministry, following Kingsley who had left a few minutes before to lead the way. As George, the last in line, stepped forward to take his turn, Harry called out.
“Yeah Harry?” he asked turning to look back.
“Do it for Fred.”
George nodded solemnly and fighting back his emotions, stepped forward and disappeared.
The room remained silent and still as the onlookers stared at the fireplace. Then Mrs. Weasley burst into tears. Glancing at his feet awkwardly, Harry quickly slipped out of the room after Ron where they were quickly joined by Hermione and Ginny.
“We’ll just get our bags then,” Ron said as he and Hermione slipped off up the stairs.
When it was just the two of them Ginny turned to Harry.
“Try not to look so miserable at the prospect of spending some quality time with me. They’ll be back to rescue you soon.”
“Hey!” he cried, “that’s not fair!”
But he couldn’t hide the grin that crept onto his face and felt a bit better at the prospect. If Ron or Hermione noticed any change they didn’t say anything as the four of them walked back to the living room where Mr and Mrs Weasley were waiting. Behind them they wheeled two large suitcases that looked like they’d be a pain to travel with. As if reading his thoughts, Hermione turned to him.
“We could have taken my handbag again, but honestly, it’s so much easier being able to see the stuff you’re looking for. Plus we’re not on the run and we’ll fit in better this way.”
“Mum I’m not six!”
Harry and Hermione turned to look. A rather embarrassed Ron was being fussed over by his mum to the delight of Ginny.
“I know dear, but it’s so easy to forget to brush your teeth when you’re busy. And have you got enough socks? You always take too few. And a jumper or two...”
“Why are you giving me this lecture and not the other three?”
“Well they’re older. They know how to look after themselves.”
“Mum! I did spend the last year away from home!” His voice dropped a little. “Plus Hermione helped me pack...”
“Well, I guess you’ll be ok then,” she allowed as Ginny cracked up behind her.
Grinning, Harry turned back to Hermione.
“I guess this is goodbye then. See you in a couple of days!” he said trying to sound as cheery as he could.
“Take care won’t you Harry!” she said as she threw herself around him. “Look after him for me Ginny.”
“Will do!” she grinned with a glint in her eye.
“Try and relax a bit mate and just enjoy yourself,” said Ron as he joined them.
“Try not to do anything too stupid,” grinned Harry back at him.
They walked towards the fireplace as Hermione said goodbye to Mr and Mrs Weasley.
“Oh and Harry?” Ron said turning.
In response he pointed at his eyes and then back to Harry and Ginny. Ginny huffed back at him and Harry couldn’t help laughing.
“See ya mate.”
Two flashes later and they were gone, leaving the four of them behind in the room.
A/N: Yay for updates! I've got the following chapters all planned out and they have been for a while, but I was hesitant to start updating something irregularly and I felt like the last chapter ended in a mini-resolution anyway so it was a good place to pause. Anyway, I'm not determined to actually finish this story sometime in the not-too-distant future which hopefully means regular updates!
Also, a big shout out to SamMalfoy who has taken on the daunting role of Beta and has helped workshop my ideas and encourage my writing!
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