It was 5 am in the Burrow. Molly Weasley was holding her now very cold cup of tea in the semi darkness. Late last night she arrived with what was left of her Family. Upstairs she could hear her husband of 30 years snoring peacefully, thanks to a sleeping draught she slipped into his tea when he wasn't looking.
Her two oldest, Bill and Charlie, were being held in the Dark Tower under guard at Hogwarts. They were being held on suspicion of assault and the attempted murder of Harry Potter, and of badly beating Hermione Granger. Her two youngest Ron and Ginny were also injured and taking care of their respective partners and wanted nothing to do with the Family.
Their third oldest Percy, estranged for several years, was sleeping in his old room. Getting him back was the only shining light in this situation.
Her next oldest George was sleeping on the swing on the front porch. His best friend Angelina Johnson was with him. His twin brother Fred's body lay in Arthur's workshop waiting to be buried at 6 pm tomorrow.
Bill's wife Fleur was due for tea this morning. Initially Molly disliked her, believing she did not really love her oldest. But she stayed with him after he was disfigured by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback. Last summer they were married at the Burrow.
Molly heard a distant 'pop' and saw the silhouette of her daughter in law slowly walking towards the house. 'I wonder how she is handling this? Her husband, not even married for a year, is accused of attempted murder and assault'. She heard two voices softly speaking, the sounds carrying in the open window.
"Did you get to see him? How is he?"
"Yes. Ginny asked for me. He does not remember much, which is a side effect of the potion they gave him to keep him calm. His memories are intact and he willingly shared them with Kingsley. After what I saw earlier I could not view them! Minerva and Kingsley did, and I thought she was going to hex him!!"
"How are Ginny and Ron? We keep forgetting about them."
"How can we forget with Molly continually yelling about 'her babies!' I don't think she realizes how badly hurt Hermione and Harry are. No, she is too focused on her two youngest. Not once have I heard her mention Charlie's or Bill's names!! They will be fortunate to not spend the rest of their lives in Azkaban."
"Fleur what can we do to help them?"
"I don't know. They were apprehended while they were doing these horrific things. Their memories and ours will be taken into account, along with Hermione's, Ginny's, and Ron's."
"But what about Harry? What did he say?"
"Angelina I have never seen anyone so badly beaten and still be alive. Something is keeping him here. I'm sure it is his love for Ginny. And Ron and Hermione, and all the Family. That is what has to be hurting him the most. The people he trusted have betrayed him. Again. So much of his life has been one heartbreak after another. And we haven't helped, putting pressure on him. His destiny, The Chosen One, and all that. If he lives I would not be surprised if the four of them leave and never speak to any of us again. Maybe America? They could change their names and blend in."
"I hope not. Molly would be devastated. First Fred, then them too."
Leaning on the sink barely breathing Molly Weasley thought she was going to pass out. Her mind had been focused on getting her kids back, not understanding how bad things really were. "I am too selfish" she quietly said.
"Selfish maybe, but you love them" she heard her husband say. Their bedroom was directly above the conversation and he heard every word. "Now we know better what we are facing. This must be why Kingsley and Minerva are coming this morning. He told me Winky will be bringing breakfast."
"What will you do Fleur? If they actually are responsible?" Angelina asked.
"Stand by him. He is my husband. No something else brought this on. Maybe Professor Dumbledore can help. But what about you?"
"I have loved these two idiots for as long as I can remember. Their Family is my Family too. George needs all our support, especially tomorrow. Do you think they will come?"
"I don't see how. I asked, but I will be very surprised. Ginny cannot leave Harry. It is like he is living on her love. I touched him, and it was like he pulled a part of me into himself. He has lost his trust in everyone except for a very few." Fleur left Angelina to try and wake up George. The Weasleys were notoriously difficult to get moving. But not today.
"I wouldn't blame you if you left us too. We don't deserve you or Fleur" George said with his eyes still closed once Fleur went inside.
"You heard? I meant what I said. Fleur does too. And I don't think you caused this to happen. It was Voldemort, just like your parents told Harry."
"How bad do you think he is? Both Bill and Charlie are so much bigger than him. It wouldn't take much, especially as bad as he looked."
"A little or a lot, it's not the point. He winced when Ginny hugged him. All three of them looked worn out. And I think Fleur is right this does not make sense. While all of you are hot headed, none are prone to violence. No, there has to be more to it."
"Maybe. All of us were really mad. Only you and Fleur said not to blame him. And Mom and Dad just sat there, not saying anything. Do you think that was interpreted to mean they agreed with what we were saying?"
"I hope not. I'm sure it was Fred on their minds. Your parents are not like that. Yes your Mom yells at all of us. But it's because she cares, not because she is mean spirited."
"The sun is coming up. Our company will be here soon. We need to spend the time together while we can."
* * *
Molly and Arthur were seated at the table waiting for Fleur to enter. Their faces lit up when she did, which was a far cry from how she was treated not too long ago. She loved Bill and tolerated the stares and barely under the breath comments. Today they seemed genuinely happy to see her. Both rose to embrace her, again a major change.
"Good Morning. Tea?" Molly asked, grateful the Death Eaters didn't drink tea. Everything else was either stolen or destroyed. The house was in shambles-it took all evening to get the main floor and the bedrooms they needed useable. Ron and Ginny's were especially tore apart, some of which was Kreacher's doing when he hastily retrieved their possessions.
"Merci. Thank you" Fleur replied gratefully. She hoped the caffeine would help keep her awake. The nightmares she had when she returned home to Shell Cottage were horrible.
"I know I don't say this enough, but we are very glad you and Bill got married. A lesser person would have broke it off after he was attacked. It showed us the kind of woman you really are" Molly told her.
"And we want to thank you for taking such good care of him when it happened" Arthur added. "How did you manage?"
"Amor. It was the love we have for each other. We will need it more than ever if we are to survive this" she answered.
"Did Kingsley let you see him? How is he? And what about you? How are you feeling with all this?" asked Arthur.
Fleur was floored. This was the very first time they showed concern for her, and she found it difficult not to break down. "I feel terrible. For all of us. This sweet man who I love with all my heart has done things so brutal they cannot be described. When you saw Ginny and Ron it was nothing compared to how Hermione and Harry are. My first thought was he suffered from the attack, but it would have showed up before now. And Charlie acted the same horrific way, so it can't be that. I am determined to help them both, but I need to talk to some people first. Something about this seems familiar, but I can't think from where."
"Would you like to stay here tonight? You know we have plenty of room" Molly asked as she placed her hand on Fleur's.
"Maybe. I might feel better not being alone. Do you have any message for Bill if I get to see him again? Ginny arranged it for me yesterday."
"That we love him and they are in our prayers. And that we will stand behind them no matter what" Arthur answered for both of them.
"You can give him one of these for us" Molly said as he hugged her daughter in law.
"Thank you" she replied as she heard the floo activate.
* * *
Hermione impatiently tapped the rail on the right hand side of the bed. Today the bandages would come off her face, and she hoped her vision was not impaired. Ron took her right hand in his. "Sorry" she told him.
"It's OK. I know how important this is. That's why I am promising you if you have any problems I will read to you" he replied.
"Really? You would do that?" she replied. Ron hated to read. With a passion.
"Absolutely. You may have to help me with some of the words though. After all I do have the emotional range of a teaspoon you know" he attempted to say with a straight face.
"Maybe. But you're my teaspoon" she answered as she tried to kiss his hand. He reached over and pulled her face to his instead.
"Hey you two get a room" Poppy joked. "Are you ready?"
"As I will ever be" Hermione answered. "Ron will you stay here with me?"
"Forever Miss Hermione Jean Granger." He nodded to Poppy who waved her wand causing the lights to dim. She touched the side of Hermione's face and the bandages began to unravel. It seemed like it took forever but in a matter of moments they were off.
"The charm is still on to keep your eyes closed. Give me another minute." Poppy continued to wave her wand around Hermione's head and nodded to Ron.
"Sweetheart you can open your eyes now" he told Hermione.
Very, very slowly Hermione opened her eyes. Everything was fuzzy and she blinked repeatedly. Gradually the lights got brighter and she turned in Ron's direction, bursting into tears as she hugged him. "I was afraid I never could see you again" she said into his now extremely wet shirt.
"I wasn't worried at all. Poppy is the best" he answered, silently thanking the healer.
On the other side of the curtained wall Ginny was glad for Hermione. "And what about you Harry Potter? Will I ever be able to look into those emerald green eyes again?" She felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Kreacher trying to comfort her.
"Mistress Ginny this is Master Harry's decision to make. Kreacher thinks he is here now because of his love for us, but a part of him has not yet returned. When he does we will need to ask him where he has been all this time."
Then she felt a hand on her other shoulder. It was Hermione, standing for the first time. "Ginny how is he?" she whispered.
"I don't really know. Outwardly he looks better. It's only the big spot that still bleeds sometimes" she replied. In the center of his chest the white sheet had a blood colored stain. Ginny glanced up at Ron who shook his head no, telling her she didn't know.
Ginny got up so Hermione could sit and took the sheet off Harry. Hermione gasped and turned white upon seeing the lightning bolt shaped scar in the center of his chest. The sheet was quickly changed and replaced so Hermione didn't have to stare at it any longer.
"Ginny we have so much to tell you. If Harry was able to I know he would help. He wants you to know everything, but first can I ask a favor? I really need to take a shower and ... "
"And I said I would wash her back for her but she refused" Ron interjected as Hermione playfully punched him in the shoulder, followed by Ginny hitting the other one.
"Let's go. I haven't had one either since we got here. Ron can you sit with Harry?"
"Of course. You two go make yourselves look pretty. Not that you aren't already" he hastily added.
Ron sat in Ginny's chair after getting hit two more times. By each of them. He took Harry's hand in his and said "Mate I know you're in there somewhere. If I didn't know better I thought you smiled at my predicament just now. Harry I was so scared when they brought you in. I thought I was losing my best friend. And Hermione, she means the world to me. What took me so long to understand this I don't know. But I love her. The only thing stopping me from busting in to the girls loo and proposing, besides Ginny hitting me with one of her bat bogey hexes, is that you aren't here to share this with us. Wherever you are try to get back soon. Please?"
Ron did not notice the door to the girl's loo close. They were going to come back to ask Ron something and heard Ron's heartfelt statements. As softly as possible the door closed behind them. Ginny cast the 'Muffalato' charm and both girls cried their eyes out at what Ron just said. And how both were very afraid for Harry.
"Poppy doesn't know what else to do Hermione" Ginny said as she helped her into the shower. "But your bruises don't seem as bad now."
"It's mainly my arm and shoulder" Hermione replied as the warm water hit her. Seeing she was steady Ginny climbed into the adjacent one.
"Boy this feels good. Did I hear you right earlier telling Ron you want to go to the funeral today?"
"Yes. I feel we owe it to them. I know you can't go, so we will for you."
"Thanks. I wish I could think of something to bring Harry out of it."
"Well you could ask Ron to wheel him in here. If that wouldn't do it nothing would."
Ginny blushed at the thought of standing naked in front of Harry. Not that she hadn't dreamed about that, it wasn't here in the loo at the Hospital. "I'm sure we will have time for that later. Just like you and my overly protective brother."
"I don't think that is an issue anymore. Especially after what happened. And if anyone says anything they have the both of us to deal with."
"Agreed. Now let's get back out there. Something is happening" Ginny replied. Hastily they dressed, both not caring their hair was still wet. When they came out it seemed the light was brighter at the far end where the beds were. As they approached they saw a doorway had appeared. Ron and Harry were out there in a courtyard in the sun. A gentle breeze was blowing, making Harry's hair fluff up even more.
"Ron how did you do this?" Hermione asked.
He wrapped his arms around her and said "I tried to think of the things Harry loved. Besides you" he stated looking at Ginny who didn't even blush. Not a bit. "Flying is the next best thing. So I thought it would be nice if we could get outside and feel the wind blowing through our hair so to speak."
"I don't care what anybody says you really are smart" Ginny said as she hugged him. On Harry's face was the faintest of smiles. She came back and took his hand again, feeling the connection to be stronger. For the first time since this happened she kissed him, afraid before of what might happen. His lips were warm but he did not respond. 'That's OK. One step at a time. He's been through so much. All of us have'.
"Hermione are you sure you're up to this? We don't have to go" a worried Ron told her.
"Yes. The shower helped. And the special meal. But now it's time for dessert."
"I can call ... " was all he got out before Hermione pulled his head down to hers again. She would never tell him she and Ginny heard what he told Harry. That he wanted to propose when Harry was there to be a part of it, just like everything else they had experienced the last seven years.
"Can I have this for breakfast to?" he asked when they were finished.
"Morning, noon, and night" she replied, fantasizing about waking up next to him.
"So Romeo how do you and your blushing Juliet plan on getting to the funeral? Just wave your wand and go?" teased Ginny.
"Sure. Both you close your eyes" he replied. Just to make him happy they did so and heard a rustle of wings. They opened them to see Buckbeak the hippogriff land on the patio along with Hannah, Neville, and Luna on thestrals. Neville slid off and helped Hannah who was behind him.
"You really are incredible" Hermione said as she squeezed Ron tighter.
"Luna and I are escorting you, and to pay our respects" Neville told them.
"And I'm staying to keep you company if that's OK" Hannah added.
"Yes it is. Thanks" Ginny gratefully told her.
Buckbeak approached Harry. He bowed, waiting for Harry's response. Not getting one he came closer, gently touching his arm with his beak.
"I know you love flying with him. One day I know you will" Ginny replied as she stroked his neck which now lay in her lap. She saw the tears in his eyes as he saw the pain both were in.
"I asked Buckbeak if he could help us today. He came back with two of the thestrals we rode to the Ministry" Luna stated.
"I'll tell you all about it while they are gone" Ginny answered seeing Hannah didn't know what they were talking about. She saw Ron climb on Buckbeak's back and Neville helped Hermione to sit in front.
"Just go slow please?" she begged. Hermione had never enjoyed the freedom of flying, but she had rode on Buckbeak before with Harry after rescuing Sirius.
"Absolutely. We are leaving way early. Just lean back against me" Ron replied as Buckbeak began to walk and then rose gently into the air.
Hermione felt Ron's strong arms around her as they rose in circles above the castle. They were disillusioned so she had no fears of being spotted. Below them the devastation from the Battle was still visible, the worst being the greenhouses. She heard Neville swear at that.
Soon they were travelling south. Ron chose a path along the shoreline. Neville watched closely the route Ron was taking. Last time in the rush to get to the Ministry the thestrals went as fast as they could, taking less than an hour to go hundreds of miles. On one side Luna was weaving back and forth chatting with hers. On the other side Ron was holding tightly onto Hermione who was now relaxed. He grew envious wishing it was him and Hannah floating gently across the countryside.