It took all of Hermione’s will power to keep from pulling her fathers Mercedes over along the M25 and apparating directly to Heathrow.
But she talked herself into continuing the drive. It would not benefit her at all to arrive there now. Elroy’s flight would not arrive for at least another hour. She needed to think this through.
‘Hermione, are you there?’ She heard Ginny’s voice coming out of her bag.
She checked the traffic around her and reached into her bag for the new cell phone her and Ginny got in London just a few weekends before. They had become close in there last year of school and now that they were not living in the same city, they didn’t go more than two days without sending messages back and forth. Both of their owls had started rebelling just a month after they left Hogwarts.
She laid the phone on the console and pushed the intercom button. ‘Ginny, I am so glad you called. But I am on my way to Heathrow right now.’
Ginny said, ‘what’s all that noise around you, are you driving?’
‘Well yeah.’ Hermione said. She wasn’t sure how much she should tell Ginny. She is Ron’s sister. She let the silence grow and finally said ‘I have to pick up an old friend from my childhood. I knew him before I went to Hogwarts.’
She hoped Ginny understood she didn’t want to say to much. She wasn’t sure how she felt about Elroy anymore. ‘Can I give you a call back later tonight.’
‘You better, I want to hear all him. Bye’ Ginny hung up and the line went dead.
Hermione grabbed the phone and was going to toss it into her bag. But something made her push the call button. When she heard the familiar tone she said ‘Harry.’
The phone connected and she waited in silence..
She and Ginny had convinced Harry to get on the same plan as they had. Although they didn’t call him as often. He was not an easy person to get a hold of. He had started working with the ministry a few months after the battle with Voldemort. At times it was weeks that they wouldn’t hear from him. Then all of the sudden he would show up at Hogwarts to see Ginny.
He would be sitting in the back of a classroom or in the teachers lounge. He was seen wandering through the vegetable gardens and around the edges of the forbidden forest. Once some students, who knew that Ginny and he were dating, cornered him in the library and wouldn’t let him leave while someone went and found her.
‘Hermione. What is it, I am right in the middle of something important.’ She heard his voice over the phone.
‘Harry. I need to see you right now, I am on my way to Heathrow. Can you meet me there. I will be there in 20 minutes. Our usual spot.” Hermione said and pressed the disconnect button. She knew that if he could, he would meet her in the very first coffee shop they found. If he couldn’t, he would apologize when he saw her next. She would accept, because she knew he had tried his best.
She put the cell phone back into her bag and stepped on the accelerator of the Mercedes.
July 19, 1991
Flight to America
Taking into consideration airplanes and traffic patterns, landings and take-offs, baggage handlers and passengers, it was seldom that you saw many birds fly into the airspace around airports. Let alone fly directly to a terminal and perch onto the ramp between the international terminal and a British airways flight to America.
Sitting with his nose in a book and the contents of his carry on bag spread out on the seats around him, Elroy heard the commotion of the other passengers mingling around the windows talking and pointing. But he was busy trying to figure out when to talk with his parents about the strange scars that have appeared on his hands this morning. The barn owl sat for sometime, waiting for a chance to swoop in and deliver the envelope it held beneath its wing.
It was only after the plane had backed away from the ramp and started off towards the run way that the owl fly off. Back to Hogwarts. Unable to deliver its letter.
Elroy was squished against the window of the 747. He had the over head lamp pointing at the sheet of paper and he was looking at the blank area above his parents names.
His mother looked up from her own book she was reading and said, ‘Honey, what are you working on?’
He handed her the paper and told said, ‘Hermione and I talked about it and we decided to get married when we both turn 19. So I wrote up this ‘betrothal’ agreement last night and she had her parents sign it.’ He said this quietly not wanting the other passengers to over hear him. ‘I need you and dad to sign it above your names.’
He looked out the window at the water below them. The plane had been in the air for a little over an hour now. He knew the trajectory it would take on its path. Flying over Greenland, Nova Scotia and the East Coast of America. Finally landing in Chicago. There they would be met by his uncle Bill and they would all spend a few days there before driving to Walled Lake, Michigan to their new home.
He could hear his mother and father discussing the betrothal. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He had only slept a few hours the night before and the hum of the engine had a soothing effect on his body. He dreamt of a tall man in a long robe, with a pointed hat. He was talking with Hermione and she was smiling. Elroy felt very comfortable with the look of the man. His long white beard and half moon spectacles made him look bookish.
Turbulence shook the plane and Elroy’s head bounced gently against the window. He awoke feeling much refreshed and opened his eyes to see the cabin was alight and the passengers were all talking and they seemed to be packing their belongings away.
His mother touched his sleeve to wake him saying, ‘Elroy, you have to pack all your things away, we are getting ready to land.’
‘Yes mother, I am awake. Do I have time to use the restroom.' He felt a tightening in his kidneys. How long had he been sleeping?
‘No, but we can find somewhere to go as soon as we land. Check around your feet, make sure you have everything.’ She said as she put her own books away.
His father was sitting rock still. His hands were on the arm rest at the ready to grab on if the plane were to roll over or something. Elroy had to laugh to himself. He knew his father hated flying and heights. The story was that when his father was younger, he was playing at being a wizard and jumped off the roof, holding a broomstick between his legs. He fell to the ground and almost killed himself. Luckily his cousin Bill had been there and he fixed him up.
It was a funny story, Elroy thought about it now. He had asked if his father had broken any bones, but he got mixed answers about it from time to time. Sometimes his father would tell him yes, but he didn’t remember going to the hospital. But he had no scars or pictures of himself wearing a cast.
Elroy figured that the trauma caused him to forget or make up different stories. He knew that a lot of strange things had happened in his life when he and Hermione were together. Then they would try to explain to someone and find that they really couldn’t explain what had happened.
The flight attendant walked past and smiled at Elroy. He started to push his bag beneath the seat in front of him and his mother said, ‘Oh here it is, she pulled a piece of paper from her bag and handed it to Elroy.’ He had forgotten that he had given her the Betrothal to sign. He looked at it. Both signatures were there.
As he stuffed the paper into his bag he said, ‘thanks Mom.’ She didn’t reply just finished packing her stuff away.
Getting off the plane took a little longer than Elroy's mother had anticipated. When they got into the terminal she looked at her son and thought he would burst if he didn’t get moving. She said, ‘ Honey, you can go along and find a restroom, I will wait with your father here. He needs to get his sea legs back under him.’
Elroy looked at his father and smiled, ‘I will be right back.’ As he moved away he heard her say, ‘go and come right back, please.’
Elroy could move through the crowd easily. People seemed to move out of his way when he thought he was going to be delayed. He saw a group of people standing around the restroom. But the people walking seemed oblivious to it. He made a quick leap sideways and headed in. One of the men made an opening for him to get through the group.
He turned right at the row of sinks. He wanted to wash his hands, his need to use the bathroom had subsided a bit. In the mirror he saw a man step into a stall and close the door. His feet disappeared and the toilet flushed.
He looked down at the water coming from the faucet and splashed water into his face. What had he just seen. Then he heard a toilet flush a few stalls down the row. He looked up and in the mirror, saw a pair of men’s shoes appear. The door opened and an old man stepped out. The man looked at Elroy in the mirror and said, ‘disgusting what we are required to do these days.’ Elroy smiled not understanding and then heard the man mumble something under his breadth about ‘muggles’ as he headed out the door.
After he had finished, he washed his hands again, but this time he kept his eyes down while facing the mirror. He heard another flush in the empty stalls behind him and he headed out to find his mother and father. As he approached they both looked up and seemed to come out of their chairs to great him. His father held his hand out and reached past Elroy, ‘Bill so glad you could come and greet us here at the Gate.’
Elroy turned and saw the man who was right on his heals. The man shook his fathers hand and gave his mother a hug. When he turned to Elroy he looked him up and down and then nodded to him. ‘glad to meet you Elroy. I have heard good things about you.’
Elroy now recognized him as one of the people in the crowd standing outside the men’s room.