Hermione was curled on the window seat in Ginny’s room. She was staring out the window, uncharacteristically morose. Around her feet lay several editions of the Daily Prophet, which she had read through a number of times.
The last week and a half had been particularly newsworthy. First, in the July fourth edition, had been the account of the attempted escape of Death Eaters discovered within the Ministry. The banner headline read “CHOSEN ONE SAVES MINISTRY” and featured a large photograph of Harry casting a spell in the heat of the conflict.
The article had differed substantially from the first hand accounts Hermione had heard from Ginny, Moody, and Harry himself, but did give a fairly accurate tally of the lives that had been lost in the conflict.
Two smaller articles in that same edition had also been of interest. First, was an article that covered the appointment of Minerva McGonagall, as the new Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; which had also detailed some faculty appointments, along with giving a calendar for the coming term. The second was an article in which Rufus Scrimgeour had discussed the Ministry’s plans to form a standing army in defense of Wizarding Britain against “He-who-must-not-be-named.”
Four days later, had come the exclusive interview of Harry Potter, by Imani Newell. This had been an extensive piece covering much more of Harry’s life, history, and opinions than he had ever before discussed publicly. In it he had expressly asked that he not be referred to as “The Chosen One.” He had judiciously answered questions on all sorts of topics, from being raised by Muggles, to his relationship with Albus Dumbledore. He had even been asked about the nature of his relationship with the Weasley family, most specifically Ron, and with a Muggle-born girl named Hermione Granger. This he had simply explained as, fellow Gryffindors and his two closest friends from Hogwarts, and avoided very much detail.
Harry had supported the Minister’s plan to form a defensive army, and he had discussed the identity of Tom Riddle, who had later re-named himself, Lord Voldemort. He had suggested that people use the given name, and quit building fear by accepting anything else. It had been an amazingly forthcoming interview, though very carefully planned not to build mystique in the idea that Harry was somehow destined to save the Wizarding world.
The rest of the Prophet that day was devoted almost exclusively to articles about the interview, featuring analysis of what had and hadn’t been said. There were also, a number of exposés featuring wild speculation about things like Harry’s favorite foods, favorite hangouts, sense of fashion, and about his love life, most of which had been entirely inaccurate.
Ginny had been particularly upset about the “love life” exposé, not because of who Harry had been linked to, but because she had failed to make the list. It had not helped that Harry was rather relieved by that fact.
Then, on July eleventh had come the news of the attack on the town of Beaujardin in France, and the leveling of Beauxbatons Palace.
Accompanying articles had featured interviews with Henri Deforest, Mayor of Beaujardin, and Madame Maxime, Headmistress of the former Beauxbatons Academy of Magic.
The attacks, by all accounts had been brutal and the deaths had been many. The enemy forces had included Giants, Trolls, Werewolves and Vampires, among a host of other magical creatures, all commanded by “The Dark Lord.”
An account had been given of a meeting between the interviewees and Severus Snape in which several demands had been made, and ultimately rejected.
Worst of all, the land on which the palace of Beauxbatons had once stood had been cursed. It was said that the Dark Lord had appeared and performed the curses himself at the conclusion of the battle.
The French Ministry had not responded to requests for comment on the atrocities, but it was rumored that a proclamation of war might soon be issued.
There were also articles covering several other attacks in towns throughout Eastern Europe. There were mountains of speculation about just how much power Voldemort had obtained across the European continent. It was clear that at the very least he now controlled the Wizarding leadership in Albania, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Romania. His influence and power were clearly growing.
Hermione had gotten in the habit of reading every printed word of the Prophet to make sure she did not miss anything. It had become a part of her role, to stay on top of the news and keep Ron and Harry, and now Ginny, current. To be the one that looked for connections, and always had the facts at hand. She didn’t mind it, no, she actually loved it. It was who she was, it was who she had always been and she wouldn’t trade her adventures with the boys for anything.
Hermione loved the boys, ever since first year. She loved them both, and now, she had to admit to herself that she was “in love” with Ron as well. Her life was a wonder, she was part of something much bigger than herself, but it had come at a price; a truly dreadful price that caught her off guard, that she had not been prepared to pay. She felt a tear creep down her cheek and she sobbed lightly.
There was a light knock at the open door. Hermione hastily wiped her face and turned, getting up suddenly as Harry entered the room.
“Hermione?” Harry’s voice was gentle and full of concern.
“Harry, oh,” her voice caught a little, “I was just coming down.” She crossed the room toward the door.
“Hermione, wait.” Harry said. She stopped still. “Hermione, something is wrong. I know you, I know whatever it is you think you need to deal with it on your own,” he began.
“No, Harry,” Hermione objected, but Harry raised a hand to stop her.
“Hermione,” Harry continued, somewhat sternly, “I have known there is something since the night we opened the lock-box. But so much has been happening, well, I sort of let it go... But, I haven’t forgotten, and now I find you up here crying.” He motioned to the window seat. “It’s me, Hermione, whatever it is, trust me.”
Hermione stood motionless staring blankly at Harry. Her expression began to soften and then tears rolled from her eyes. “It’s... It’s my parents.” Her voice cracked and she sobbed deeply. “They’ve kicked me out!”
“WHAT?” Harry replied, much more loudly than he intended. From what little Harry knew about the Grangers, this seemed a complete impossibility.
Hermione was sobbing into her hands. Harry crossed to the door and closed it, then he lead Hermione back to the window seat and sat her down. He sat across from her on the opposite end.
“Tell me what this is all about,” Harry said. After a minute Hermione got control of herself and tearfully poured out her secret to Harry.
“Well, it all started in Greece, after we came home from Dumbledore’s funeral,” Hermione began. It didn’t take Harry long to grasp what had happened. Hearing it was one thing, believing it was another.
While the Grangers were vacationing in Greece, her parents had questioned Hermione for details about the death of the school’s headmaster. They had received a letter from Hogwarts, just as all the parents did.
Hermione had decided that it was time to tell her parents all about the goings on of the Wizarding world and about her adventures at Hogwarts over the past six years. She knew that there was a possibility that they could become targets themselves and so she knew the truth would have to come out, because they would have to consider going into hiding for their own safety.
Hermione had told them all about Harry, and the stories about “the boy who lived.” About the evil wizard, Tom Riddle, who had fashioned a new name for himself and killed Harry’s parents. She told them how she had met Harry Potter and his friend Ron Weasley, and how they had all become the best of friends. She told them about how each year at Hogwarts had been an adventure in thwarting this wizard’s return, and how during the fourth year, Voldemort had managed to kidnap Harry and use his blood to complete a re-birthing potion and so achieved nearly human form again.
Hermione had tried to stress how important it was that this wizard be defeated, and that she was part of a secret order devoted to this goal.
Harry, was a bit dumbfounded by all of this, but listened carefully.
“I didn’t tell them about the prophecy, or the horcruxes, or anything truly secret,” Hermione assured Harry.
According to Hermione, after that her parents asked a lot of questions for a few days and then they started asking about her plans for after she completed Hogwarts. She had to eventually admit to them that she was planning to seek some sort of a job at the Ministry of Magic.
After that they talked a lot about their own ambitions for her, going on to University, becoming a Doctor, or Lawyer, or something else acceptably Muggle oriented. Their discussions had become increasingly tense. They admitted that they were proud that she was a witch, and they had always seen it as a distinct advantage in her life, but they had never thought that Hermione would choose to live and work within the Wizarding community.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger had expected that once Hogwarts was completed Hermione would rejoin “normal society,” was the expression her father had used. They had never suspected that their daughter would ever be caught up in something as truly dangerous as the stories that she had told them. They were extremely frightened and disappointed.
After they had all returned from Greece, apparently Hermione’s parents had told her they had decided that she should not return to Hogwarts in the fall. Her father had presented her with a couple of alternatives for completing studies, and they had told her that they could not allow her to continue to place herself in danger.
When Hermione had refused their suggestions there had been quite a row. They had argued for several hours and finally her parents had told her that they could not condone her choices and that if she insisted on pursuing her path in this whole affair that she would have to do it without their consent, or support.
Hermione had told them, that they couldn’t understand what was really at stake and that she could not do as they wished. Their response had been to cut her off. If she was going, they had said she needed to be prepared to do so completely on her own, and that she would not be welcome to return unless she was willing to do as they insisted.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger were adamant, and had not altered their position the next morning, so Hermione had left them a long letter trying to explain, and come to The Burrow.
When she was done speaking she sobbed again heavily and wiped her face with her sleeve.
“Hermione,” Harry said after a brief silence, “I am so sorry. But, why have you been keeping all of this a secret?”
“I’m not sure Harry,” she replied “I didn’t want to burden anyone else... I really don’t know what I am going to do. I know the Weasley’s will insist that I stay here until school begins. I have some savings, but not enough to pay for a place to live, or even to cover the tuition at Hogwarts.”
“I am sure your parents are just frightened, if you give it some time they will come around, they love you too much not to,” Harry said firmly.
Harry stood up and pulled Hermione to her feet. “And as for a place to live, well, you can’t very well imagine me living in the Manor alone can you? You can have any room you want, I insist.”
“Oh Harry!” Hermione exclaimed. She threw her arms around his shoulders and hugged him, burying her face in his shoulder as she sobbed, though now with a bit of relief, as well.
Harry returned the hug with genuine affection. “It will all work out Hermione, I am sure of it.” He said as he rubbed her back gently trying to comfort her.
After a moment something occurred to Harry and he asked. “What was that about tuition at Hogwarts?”
“What? Hermione replied, momentarily confused.
In that instant, the door to the bedroom flew open and Ginny rushed in.
“Hermione, have you seen Har...?” she was asking as she entered.
Ginny stopped still, not finishing the name, she was staring right at them both, a look of confusion on her face.
Hermione looked up from Harry’s shoulder and seeing Ginny, stepped back awkwardly from his embrace.
“What’s...?” Ginny started angrily but paused, seeing Hermione’s eyes and the obvious tears on Harry’s shoulder, her expression completely changed to concern. “What’s Ron done?” she said. Ginny crossed the space between her and Hermione quickly and hugged her.
“No... It’s not Ron,” Hermione choked out.
“Well, then... please tell me what’s going on.” Ginny implored.
They sat back in the window seat and Harry pulled a chair from Ginny’s desk.
Hermione quickly explained, giving Ginny an abbreviated version of what she had just told Harry.
When she was done Ginny looked positively scandalized. “This will all blow over,” she said. “They need a bit of time to come around.”
“See, Hermione,” Harry cut in. “That’s what I said,” He smiled at Ginny, who responded in kind.
“In the mean time you can stay here with us, until Harry can move into the Manor proper, and then you can stay there with him,” Ginny said.
Harry smiled at Hermione, rolled his eyes, and shrugged, slightly.
“What?” Ginny asked seeing Harry.
Hermione laughed a little at the two of them. “You’re just saying exactly what Harry said.”
“Oh? That’s just because I can read his mind,” Ginny winked.
“In any case,” Harry cut in again. “The whole reason I came up here looking for you Hermione, was I want you to come to the Manor today. I think now, it would cheer you up.”
“I would like that Harry,” Hermione replied.
Ginny got up and grabbed Harry by the arm pulling him from the chair and directing him to the door. “Just give us a few minutes to get Hermione freshened up and we’ll be right down,” she whispered.
Remus Lupin had arrived while Harry was talking with Hermione, and he had Tonks with him. They were having a late morning tea in the sitting room with Bill and Fleur.
Harry came down the steps to warm greetings all around. He took a seat and helped himself to a biscuit from the tea tray.
Harry had visited the Manor only twice since he had first gone there and inadvertently spent the night. He would have liked to go more often, but it had been difficult for Lupin to get away and act as an escort, which is what Harry had agreed to during that first visit. During those two visits he had done some exploring, but mostly he had just sat and talked to his Grandparents’ portraits. They had explained everything they could think of about the Manor, and Harry had some surprises in store for this visit. He was feeling a bit anxious to get going.
“Harry,” Lupin addressed him. “I hope you don’t mind that I’ve brought Tonks along today, she had the time free and I told her I thought it would be okay.”
“Oh, it’s fine,” he smiled at the two of them. “In fact.” He turned to Bill and Fleur, “Why don’t the two of you come as well?”
“Oh, ‘Arry, zat would be magnifique.” Fleur answered for them both. Harry had thought that she in particular had wanted to visit again.
“Well then,” Harry said, “Once Hermione and Ginny come down, I guess we have everyone.”
Harry had wanted Ron to come as well, but he had needed to go work for his brothers at the shop. He had been taking too much time off from his summer job in order to spend as much time as possible with Hermione over the past week. While Fred and George had been very understanding and accommodating, they had insisted that they just couldn’t spare him today and so Ron had gotten up early and grudgingly headed out to work.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Ron arrived through the public floo grate in Diagon Alley. There were not many shoppers out yet, but he suspected that today would be another busy day. The recent news items had seemed to have the effect of making people more comfortable to be out and about. The incident at the Ministry seemed to suggest that it had been purged of Death Eater activity. That, coupled with the evidence that Voldemort was preoccupied with activity in continental Europe, and the uplifting nature of Harry’s interview, all was having a positive effect on the Wizarding community. That meant people were out shopping.
Ron turned quickly to the right and headed down the alley, which was not the direction of his brothers’ shop. He hurried along excitedly fingering the heavy coin purse in his pocket. His brothers had actually been paying him pretty well and in the short four weeks he had worked for them he had already managed to save sixty galleons. He knew exactly what he wanted to do with that money.
Ron arrived at his destination and looking around, not really wanting to be noticed, he ducked in.
The shop Ron entered was very clean and well lit. There was a thick emerald carpet runner the length of the shop, surrounded on three sides by counter height glass cases. A handsome witch was seated on a stool at the far end of the shop on the opposite side of the cases. She quickly got off of her stool and greeted Ron. “Welcome to Peninnah Promise, fine Jewelry. How may I help you?”
Ron’s feet wouldn’t move and his throat went dry. The Witch stepped closer and recognized him. “Oh, Ron, isn’t it? Ron Weasley?” she asked. “Are you here about your Brother Bill’s rings?”
Ron, found his voice. “No. I mean, yes I am Ron, but no I am not here about Bill’s order.” He still didn’t move.
The Witch smiled kindly, noting his obvious nervousness. “Well then,” She said in a very soothing tone. “What may I help you with, Ron?”
“I want to look at rings... Muggle style engagement rings,” Ron cleared his throat, which seemed to have the effect of un-sticking his feet. “I noticed when I was in here with Fleur and my Mother earlier, that you carry some.”
“Of course, they’re just over here.” She directed him to a specific jewelry case. “As you know, common Wizarding tradition does not usually include an engagement ring. But we have found that they are very popular when one intends to marry a Muggle-born witch, or even for those who choose to marry a Muggle.” She paused, looking at Ron with a kindly questioning gaze. “May I inquire about the lucky girl?”
“She’s Muggle-born,” Ron said. “And, I think she would appreciate following the Muggle tradition,” He smiled. “But, she is a very practical sort, so nothing too flashy.”
“Very good,” the Witch responded. “Well, all the rings in this case are self-sizing enchanted, so do you see anything you think she would like?”
Ron peered into the case, looking at the many beautiful rings. Finally he saw one that he rather liked. “May I see that one?” he pointed.
The Witch opened the case and drew out the one Ron had indicated. She set it on the counter so that Ron could get a closer look. “A wonderful choice,” she said. “This is a lovely ring, beautiful, but certainly not ostentatious. It is a gently gliding white gold ribbon topped with a trio of small round diamonds on either side of the square cut center diamond.” She pulled the ring from its case and handed it to Ron to hold. “You have excellent taste.”
“May I,” Ron stammered a little “may I ask how much it is?”
The Witch checked the bottom of the ring box. “This one is only 300 galleons,” she replied.
“Do you offer any purchase plans?” Ron asked, handing the ring back to the Witch.
“Certainly, we can place any item on hold and take payments,” she replied. “We also offer an exchange service on any purchases, if for any reason the girl in question should prefer another style.”
Ron nodded. He thrust his hand into his pocket, drawing out his coin purse. “Can I put sixty galleons on it today?”
“That would be perfect, and will you be making additional payments weekly, monthly?” The Witch asked.
“Monthly,” Ron said after a small pause.
“Very good, I’ll just write this up then?”
Ron nodded, smiling.
It took a few short minutes for the Witch to fill out a hold agreement and give Ron his receipt. He thanked her, walked to the front door, looked carefully both ways and exited the shop. He moved quickly up the alley toward Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, and was soon inside.
The familiar spring bell sounded and Fred and George appeared from different sides of the shop. “Glad you could finally make it,” Fred said as Ron headed to the back of the store, still unable to wipe the grin from his face. “You’re late.” Fred and George said in unison.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
From the look of things the Manor had been meticulously cleaned and polished top to bottom; which, of course, is exactly what had happened. Jarvy was proudly leading the small group on a tour. They had started at the grand foyer at the portrait of Deyton and Philomena, after warm greetings and repeat introductions; they had walked up the main stairs to the second floor.
They were walking down a long corridor going slowly to accommodate Bill who had graduated from a crutch to a cane. The corridor was a light cream color and populated by a series of small stands topped with bright bouquets of fresh flowers, between doorways. “This is the main wing of sleeping rooms,” Jarvy was saying. “The Master suite is the last room at the end.”
“Oow many rooms are zere?” Fleur asked. She was particularly excited about this visit.
“There are seven rooms in this wing,” Jarvy said, as he opened the door to the first room.
The room was quite large, beautifully decorated with dark oak Victorian furniture. There was a large wardrobe, a desk and chair, a four poster bed and a sitting area beyond. The walls were a subtle olive green below and an elaborate floral patterned wall paper above. All of the fabrics were beautifully matched so that the room achieved a comfortable, relaxing harmony.
“Mistress Philomena, is always very particular about the decorating,” Jarvy said as he entered the room, waving them in. “There are five rooms like this on this floor, each has it’s own bathing and dressing rooms, and each is decorated in a different color scheme.”
As Jarvy spoke Ginny, Hermione and Fleur were rapidly moving through the spaces, “oowing” and “aahing” at the detailed finishing and decorations.
“Why is the Manor so large,” Tonks asked, “I mean... not to be impolite, but don’t the Potters only ever have a single child every generation?”
Jarvy did not seem fazed by the question, and Harry, was just as curious to hear the answer as everyone else. “That, unfortunately has always been true for as long as I am aware of the Potter family history,” Jarvy began, “However, this house has been the Potter family home for three generations, not counting Master Harry and his father who never knew the Manor.
The Potters have always been very generous, when it comes to having house guests.” Jarvy seemed excited to talk about the Manor, and all the things that had gone on there. “The most elaborate celebrations and balls have taken place in this home, sometimes with guests staying on for months at a time.” Jarvy continued. “Please feel free to look at as many of the rooms as you like,” Jarvy stepped back in to the corridor, motioning down the length of the hall. “Though the last door on the right is Master Harry’s private suite, no one enters there without his personal permission.”
The girls set off to explore some of the rooms leaving Lupin, Bill and Harry, standing in the corridor with Jarvy.
“How many bedrooms are there Jarvy?” Bill asked.
Jarvy looked up at Harry as though checking that he was not speaking too much. Harry smiled and nodded. “There are five sleeping rooms on this floor, along with the nursery suite and the Master’s suite. The floor above has ten rooms of similar size. There are four larger guest suites in the North wing on this level and another ten rooms on the floor above that, so total there are thirty-one sleeping rooms in the Manor.” Jarvy continued, “However, on the attic level of this wing there is a single large room that could accommodate many bunks if it were necessary. And the North attic houses Jarvy’s personal rooms and House-elf quarters.”
“I had no idea it would be so big,” Bill said after a short pause. He turned to Harry, “How much of it have you been able to explore during your previous visits?”
“Not all of it, but a fair bit,” Harry said. “We’ve already had the tour,” Harry indicated Lupin with a slight wave of his hand.
“’Arry, et ez all so marvelous!” Fleur exclaimed excitedly as she returned to Bill’s arm, “I was not expecting et to be so lovely, and so grand.”
“I am very happy you like it,” Harry replied graciously.
“Harry, I’m going to show Hermione the room where I slept,” Ginny enthused, almost giddily. “It was in the other wing,” she said to Hermione, whose arm she was holding, practically dragging her around.
“Go right ahead,” Harry responded. He was very glad to see Hermione smiling, especially after the events of the morning.
Ginny raced away toward the North wing, Hermione in tow.
“Jarvy,” Harry turned back to the House-elf. “Why don’t you take our guests to the drawing room, through the Ballrooms and Dining rooms? I think lunch on the patio might be very nice.”
“Very good, Sir,” Jarvy replied contentedly. It was obvious that he was thoroughly enjoying having the Manor coming back to life again.
“There is something I want to show Hermione while she is in the right part of the house,” Harry said to the others. “Do you mind?” Harry asked, not really expecting any objections. “I’ll meet you all on the patio in a few minutes.”
“Go on then,” Lupin replied. We’ll take the four-knut tour and meet you there.”
“It’s really all brilliant Harry.” Tonks said, as Jarvy lead them toward the central stairs.
Harry ran down the corridor to catch up the girls. He found them exploring the suite that Ginny had been in on the night they had stayed at the Manor. It was the first of the guest suites and Harry found Ginny and Hermione in the dressing area examining some of the charmed items that populated it. Ginny was seated at the dressing table letting the brush and comb tend her hair, as Hermione was in one of the alcoves looking at gowns.
“Harry, it’s all so amazing!” Hermione said enthusiastically as she noticed Harry enter the room.
“Overwhelming is more like it really,” Harry replied, a tone of truth evident in his voice.
“Yes, I suppose it must be.” Hermione replied empathetically, unable to squelch her smile as she ran her hand along a lovely silk gown.
“Do you like the suite?” Harry asked.
“It’s brilliant,” Hermione nodded.
“Good, it can be yours if you like,” Harry said. “Unless of course Ginny wants it to be reserved for her own use, if she is ever allowed to visit again,” Harry winked at Ginny as she turned in her seat. Before any reply was made, Harry continued. “If you two are done here, there’s something else I would especially like to show you, Hermione.”
Ginny and Hermione followed Harry out of the suite and down the corridor through a set of double doors into another hallway running at an angle to the first. This hallway was filled with what seemed to be Muggle paintings, as none appeared to have moving occupants. Hermione had the feeling she had stepped into an Art Museum. She slowed a bit wanting to look more closely at some of the informational plaques, but Harry continued through the space and Ginny tugged at her to keep up.
“Do you know where Harry’s taking us?” Hermione whispered to Ginny.
“Nope,” was Ginny’s only reply, but Hermione could tell she was excited to get there, wherever there was.
Harry came to large, arched double doors at what seemed to be the end of the museum like space. He stood in front of the doors, placing his hands on the knobs.
“Hermione,” he said ceremoniously. Hermione felt a chill of anticipation, her curiosity piquing. Harry pushed the doors open wide. “Welcome to the Library.”
Hermione’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She could hardly move. Ginny nudged her into her first step and she managed to slowly enter the space, Harry and Ginny following behind her.
Hermione was awestruck. She had never seen so many books in her life. They had entered on the second floor of what appeared to be a huge oval room. All around her were long shelves of books lining the whole of the second level. She crossed to the banister and looked into the open space. There were three floors of books. At the opposite end of the space was a huge set of windows reaching the full height of all three floors. Above was a glass dome supported by narrow columns reaching all the way to the first floor. It flooded the whole room with natural light. The oval appeared to be at least sixty meters across and about forty wide. Every ten meters was a cast brass circular staircase winding between levels.
Hermione turned back to Harry, rewarding him with exactly the heavenly expression he had anticipated; the events of the morning clearly forgotten in the present excitement. “My god, Harry! It’s glorious!”
“When my Grandmother told me it was here, I knew you were the one who had to see it Hermione,” Harry said. “I think it is at least twice the size of Hogwart’s Library.”
Hermione rushed Harry and hugged him. Ginny stepped back from his arm to let him hug her back. It only lasted a few moments, but it was the greatest heartfelt “Thank you” Hermione could muster through her excitement. She pulled away, and immediately moved to one of the shelves, running her hand along the hard polished wood.
At the end of each shelf unit was a brass plaque with an alphanumeric designation, this one was 2A. Above each plague was a small, hand sized, carved face in relief, not quite human in appearance, but kindly looking. It appeared to be sleeping. Hermione ran her hand across the carving gently feeling the depth of it.
Suddenly the face moved, its eyes blinking awake and its mouth yawning open. Hermione stepped back momentarily startled. A gentle, almost elf-like high voice whispered “May I help you Miss? What sort of book are you looking for?”
Hermione stepped forward again curiously. “Oh... Um, excuse me for waking you. I was just curious.”
“That is quite alright Miss. I have books on Arithmancy on my shelves. From Artemus Arccot’s ‘Arcs on a Circle, the Importance of Precision in Magical Seals,’ to Hayden Heron’s ‘The Triangular Box’.”
Hermione stood there in amazement. “Spectacular,” she whispered.
Ginny and Harry chuckled.
“If you have any sort of research agenda, Hermione, I suspect this is a place to begin.” Harry said.
“I should think so!” Hermione replied as she turned and headed to the nearest staircase. Harry and Ginny followed as she descended to the first floor.
Here the shelving units were two deep and the center of the room was filled with several tables and chairs, in neat rows. At the far end of the Library beneath the expansive window was a lounge area filled with overstuffed chairs. Along the outer walls of the first floor, between equally spaced windows where tall display cases filled with hundreds of objects, from small curiosities to genuine artifacts, and near the center just off the ends of the shelves were display cases with various rare and one-of-a-kind books preserved under glass.
Harry and Ginny stopped near the tables and watched as Hermione moved around the space running her hands across all the wood surfaces as if to assure herself that it was all real. Finally she randomly pulled a large leather bound tome from one of the shelves and brought it back to the table where Harry and Ginny were standing. She set the book on the table and without noting the title simply opened it and started reading. “I could spend years in here,” she said looking up at them.
“I’m sure you could, but I did tell the others we would meet them in a few minutes,” Harry replied.
Hermione frowned at him.
“But, you can come back you know.”
Hermione smiled broadly.
“There is a problem with the Library though.” Harry said.
Both Ginny and Hermione looked at him curiously. “What could possibly be wrong here?” Hermione asked.
“Well, the house has been closed since 1920, so there have been no books added to the collection from that time on. My Grandmother seemed particularly distressed by that fact.” Harry stated. “Someone needs to start ordering books.”
Hermione’s eye lit up again, her mind clearly calculating the possibilities. “I’ll do it!” she exclaimed.
“I thought you might be willing.” Harry smiled. “Now, just one more thing and we really must go.” Harry reached into his jumper pocket and pulled out a small cellophane bag and handed it to Hermione.
Hermione looked at it. It was a bag of various colored sugar gumdrops.
“What’s this for?” she asked. “I don’t really care for such sweets.”
Harry pointed up toward the ceiling. “Set one on the table, and watch.”
Hermione pulled a red gumdrop from the bag and set it on the table by the open book. Then she focused on the ceiling where Harry had pointed.
At the ceiling line all along the base of the domed glass was a heavy ledge, from which a thick blanket of foliage was growing. It hung down in several places and was speckled with small brightly colored blooms. As she watched there seemed to be movement in several places, a sort of translucent fluttering. Soon there were several small creatures darting about. From the distance they appeared to be humming birds.
As they watched one of the small creatures began to spiral downward tentatively. As it got closer Hermione could see it more clearly. At first she thought it looked a bit like the Cornish Pixies they had encountered during their second year DADA class with Gilderoy Lockheart, but this was a much more delicate creature with more graceful limbs and less angular features. The creature slowly approached and landed on the table near the book and gumdrop.
She was very thin with distinctly pinkish coloring and gossamer wings. Atop her head instead of hair was a mass of what appeared to be delicate downy feathers. Her large eyes blinked at them. She bowed, seemed to smile broadly and trilled at them, a very happy inquisitive sound.
She moved toward the gumdrop and looked expectantly at Hermione.
“Yes, it’s for you.” Hermione whispered. The little Pixie picked up the gumdrop in both hands and popped it whole into her tiny mouth, her cheeks bulging comically. Then she pointed at the book and motioned to the shelves. “Oh, would you please?” Hermione replied to the unspoken question.
The little Pixie, still smacking on the gumdrop in her mouth, heaved the cover of the book closed, took it by the binding and though aerodynamically impossible, flew it back to its place on the shelf. Then she smiled and waved, and darted back up toward the ceiling.
“She was beautiful Harry.” Ginny said. Hermione nodded in agreement.
“Grandmother says they live here in the Library. Up there.” He pointed to the ceiling. “Strictly speaking the sweets aren’t necessary, but clearly they are appreciated.” He chuckled. “If you want to leave a book out, you need to leave an unshelled chestnut on it otherwise I guess they will put everything back in its proper place.”
“Is the entire Manor going to be such a wondrous place as this?” Ginny asked.
“I shouldn’t be surprised,” Hermione answered speculatively.
“Well we’d best go catch up with the others,” Harry said as he began to turn toward the door.
“Harry,” Hermione said. “I’m going to need a big bag of chestnuts,” she was still staring at the ceiling.
Harry chuckled again, reaching for Ginny’s hand and giving it a gentle tug. “We’ll ask Jarvy,” he said.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Back on the patio Jarvy had laid out an extensive lunch buffet. When Harry, Ginny and Hermione arrived the others had already begun to serve themselves. They filled plates and joined them at the table.
Fleur was going on about the size of the Manor’s main Ballroom and from the conversation it was clear that they had visited the extensive gardens as well.
“So, has Moody come to any decisions about the Manor?” Bill was asking Lupin.
“He was here the second time I brought Harry. He and I did an extensive sweep of the grounds while Harry visited with his grandparents portraits.” Lupin said. “I think he’s convinced that the Manor is nothing more than it is presented to be.”
“Has he said anything to you Harry?” Bill asked.
Harry looked up from his plate. He was hungrier than he had thought when he first filled his plate. “Yes, he said I can move in on my Birthday. But, he wants me to have at least two members of the Order stay here with me at all times. At least until Voldemort is no longer a threat.” Harry smiled.
“Zat ez wonderful!” Fleur said. She was nudging Bill in the side.
“That is wonderful Harry, though I think Mom will miss having you at The Burrow.” Bill said, “And Ron, of course.”
“Well, for now the only way to and from the Manor is going to remain The Burrow pantry, so I think I will still see plenty of your mother, not to mention all of the Weasleys.” Harry squeezed Ginny’s hand beneath the table. “And, I have plenty of room here, so I was thinking that I would ask Ron to stay here with me, if your parents think it is alright.”
“Well, he is seventeen already, so they probably won’t object, too much.” Bill chuckled “But you don’t want Mom thinking you’re stealing all her youngest away.” Bill winked at Ginny.
“Will you be okay here Harry?” Tonks asked. “I mean, this place is huge, won’t you feel a bit lost?”
Harry chuckled a little. “It is huge, especially for a boy who spent the first ten years of his life sleeping in a cupboard. I’m still getting used to it, but it is home... and it feels like home.” Harry paused. “Besides, it seems that I will have plenty of others here with me.” He looked over at Hermione. “Hermione is going to move in here, so will Ron I hope, and I was thinking maybe the two members of the Order could be you and Moony?” he asked.
“Harry,” Lupin cut in, “I am not sure that would be such a good idea, after all, I am... well, it can be dangerous.”
“Ah, well, I can only ask.” Harry set his fork down. “But, if you’re worried, I happen to know that the Manor can accommodate your needs.”
Lupin looked at Harry quizzically, then, he smiled. “I suppose it can. Alright Harry, if that is what you want, we can give it a go.”
“Tonks?” Harry asked.
“Blimey Harry, I never expected... Well, sure I would be honored!” Tonks nodded.
“Well, it seems like you’ll have a full house Harry.” Bill said.
“There is something more I would like to ask you.” Bill continued. “Fleur and I were wondering, would you consider letting us have the wedding here at the Manor?”
“Oh please ‘Arry!” Fleur said pleadingly “Et would be so beautiful!”
Harry smiled at her. “Hmm, I should have thought of that myself.” Ginny squeezed his hand beneath the table. “I would be happy to, but it seems to me we will have to run it by more than me. What will your Mum think Bill?”
“Well, we’ll have to break it to her gently I suspect.” Bill responded.
“And we’ll have to work out some security. Moody will probably be furious with me. And I would like to talk to my Grandparents about it.” Harry paused. “And one other.” Harry paused a second time. Then in a somewhat commanding tone he said, “Jarphred.”
There was a “pop” and the House-elf appeared behind Harry. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Jarvy, do you think we could throw a big wedding here at the house?” Harry asked.
Jarvy’s eyes widened and a delighted smile crept across his lips.
“And, of course there will have to be tea parties beforehand, and a reception, not to mention a dance, and of course probably a bunch of house guests.” Harry went on.
Jarvy bowed slightly. “Of course we can accommodate whatever is required, Master.” Jarvy looked like he was about to burst with excitement.
“Oh! ‘Arry, you are marvelous!” Fleur was up from her seat and came around to Harry, hugging him in his seat. “Zank you, zank you, you would do so much for me. Zank you so, so much!”
Fleur hugged Harry happily for a moment longer, and then she returned to her place and took Bill by the hand. “We, must go and talk to your Mothair immediately, we have so much planning to do.” She practically pulled Bill to his feet.
“Thank you Harry. Thank you so much.” Bill said. “It appears Fleur and I will be leaving now. Thanks for the tour, and for lunch.”
“You are very welcome.” Harry replied.
Once they had left, Hermione asked. “Do you think it is really wise Harry?”
“I’m not sure, Hermione, but I do think it will actually be safer than having the whole thing at The Burrow.” Harry responded.
“I think you’re quite right about that Harry,” Lupin offered.
“Yes, but you’re also right, Harry, I think Moody will be furious.” Tonks said, giggling a little at the thought.
“I think it will be fun.” Ginny offered. “Besides, the Manor is clearly built for entertaining.”
“Well, you’ve certainly made Fleur happy.” Hermione said. “She couldn’t ask for a better wedding gift.”
“I dunno,” Tonks spoke, “You are talking about Fleur Delacour. She’ll come up with something more.”
They all laughed, not unkindly, but knowing that Tonks was probably right.
“Well, if we’ll all finish our lunch, we can continue exploring the Manor.
I still haven’t seen a lot of the grounds,” Harry offered.
“Quite right Harry,” Lupin said, as he focused back on the food before him.
“Have you seen the Library yet?” Hermione asked Tonks, who shook her head no.
“Oh it’s marvelous, bigger than Hogwart’s, and...” Hermione went on and on, quite unlike herself as she explained the Library to Tonks and Lupin who listened indulgently.
Harry sat quietly, eating his lunch and listening to Hermione.
After lunch Hermione of course could not wait to get back to the Library. Harry and Lupin had a short discussion with Harry’s Grandparents and then Lupin and Tonks went out to the carriage house to check on something Harry’s Grandparents had mentioned.
That left Harry and Ginny to walk the grounds together. They walked hand in hand talking idly for a long time, circling the gardens and finally ending up at a stone pavilion.
Harry turned toward Ginny, taking her hands in his. “So, having a good day?”
“Of course I am,” Ginny responded, looking at her feet. “You’ve made everyone’s day Harry, what with the Library for Hermione, the wedding for Bill and Fleur, asking Tonks and Lupin to move in here. It’s all quite wonderful.”
“But... not so much for you, hey?” Harry gently lifted her chin. “You know I would have you move in too, but I really think your parents would hex me into oblivion if I dared even suggest it.”
“I get that Harry, really I do.” Ginny replied, looking him in the eyes.
Harry could see in her eyes that it really was alright. But, there was still something.
Ginny smirked. “But...” she pressed her finger to his chest. “We really have to do something about you hugging Hermione and Fleur, but not me.”
“A girl could get jealous.” Ginny winked at him.
Harry pulled Ginny into a long deep hug; which of course, turned into a kiss.