Chapter 4 : Confessions
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"What was that all about?" Hermione now turned on him at once as he closed his door.
"We've stayed too long already," Harry smiled to her. "We've got to go. We've still got to get back to the Burrow to meet Ron and get our things and our flight leaves in just two hours," he said nonchalantly.
"Harry-" Hermione was about to spout off something when she came up short. "Wait... What?" she looked searchingly, back and forth between Harry's green, emerald eyes, unable to comprehend a thing. Her lips pulled into a frown as his spread into a mischievous grin. "Our flights? What are you going on about, Harry?"
Harry's smile grew wider, reaching from ear to ear.
"I haven't forgotten you Hermione...” he said tenderly before scrambling around in his back pocket. “I've gotten you a present," Harry grew nervous as pulled out a simple envelope which was secured by a finely tied bow.
"What?!" Hermione stared back, unable to understand. “A present?” she turned it over in her hands.
“A present,” Harry answered her simply.
Hermione turned the bow towards her once more before she peaked up at Harry beneath bashful lashes. “But why?” she asked as she pulled at the bow, untying it. She couldn't help but feel a thrill run down her. Girls like gifts. “You shouldn't have...” she went on, slipping her finger beneath the flap, retrieving the contents within. “What did you..?" she was mumbling, but once she saw it, when she read what it was, she fell silent as she gawked at it.
"Harry..." she said without understanding. “This is a passport?”
“Yeah, open it up.”
She did. A piece of paper fell to the floor. Hermione looked down to the folded piece of paper before back up at Harry. He picked it up, handing it to her. Hermione took it hesitantly, as if afraid it were a Howler or something. Upon reading it, tears immediately began to swell in her eyes.
"H-Harry, this is an itinerary... this is a ticket to Australia..." Hermione stumbled. "Harry, this is a First Class ticket to Australia!" she said louder, looking up to him with a mix of confusion and awe swirling in her eyes.
"Yeah, well..." Harry scratched at the back of his head, uneasy beneath Hermione's tearing gaze, and unsure of what her eyes were telling him. "I've got a couple of more for me and Ron. Figured Australia was a little far to apparate, and besides, you can't cross borders without being detected, and we'd have to register with the Ministry to use a Port Key... and - and I just figured you'd want to do it your own way..."
"Oh Harry!" Hermione suddenly exclaimed, rushing forward, slamming herself into him as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She then began to cry.
"Er... everything alright, Hermione?" Harry asked awkwardly, gently wrapping his arms around her to rub at her back.
Trying her best to hold back the tears, Hermione could only nod. "Oh, yes Harry,” her voice cracked. “But... I don't understand?"
"Told you I hadn't forgotten about you. This last year, blimey, these last seven years, you've done nothing but watch out for me. You've saved my arse more times than I can count!” he chuckled. “And these last three days... no one has once asked about your parents, and... and you haven't said anything... I figured you didn't want to get the Ministry involved, that you wanted to do it yourself..?" Harry explained, wholly unsure of himself.
Hermione frowned with the mention of her parents and was forced to look away.
"I don't blame you," Harry scrambled to continue, "If my parents were out there... it was really nice of you to stick around for as long as you have... for all the funerals I mean. But now... now it's time for us to go and get your parents back!" Harry finished with a pledge of conviction.
"Harry, I couldn't possibly expect you to..."
"Nonsense, Hermione! You don't expect us to let you do this all on your own, do you?! We're a team! All three of us! The Golden Trio!" Harry quirked a smile, invoking the name the Daily Prophet had given them, one which they all hated – well, maybe not Ron.
"I don't... when did you have time for all this?" Hermione asked astonished, still struggling to put together a whole sentence.
"It was easy really. You'd told me all about it. Took a little research and planning...” Harry became a bit proud of himself that he had indeed pulled it all off. “Mundungus Fletcher got me the forged passports - didn't think we'd want to travel under our real names - and I had Dudley purchased the tickets," he made it all sound so simple.
"Oh Harry!" Hermione sobbed and fell forward once again, hugging Harry's neck.
"There, there now," Harry rubbed his hand in gentle circles about her back again, trying to calm her.
"But Harry... we can't leave today... there's... there's planning to do - supplies to get – travel plans – food – where are we going to stay? - we've got to get money – the remedy..." Hermione rambled on, her brain moving at a million kilometers a minute.
"Hermione... I er... I-I've got one other little confession to make," Harry said uneasily. Hermione pulled back again to look up at him.
"It's um..." Harry struggled for the right way to confess this last part. "Well you see... I've been doing a little reading..."
"Reading?!" Hermione's nervous lips curved into a smile. "Sense when?!"
"Er, just over the last couple of months, really," Harry admitted.
"Harry, I've been with you just about every waking moment for the last year and the only book I've seen you open is The Tales of Beedle the Bard!"
"I did it when you were sleeping," Harry shrugged simply.
"What are you talking about, when I was sleeping? Reading? What?" she fired off at him.
"Yes, when you were sleeping," he stated plainly.
"What were you reading?" Hermione questioned him, still not convinced and even then, she still had no clue as to where he was possibly going with all this.
"Well, starting a few months back, when we were hiding in the woods..." Harry paused uneasily, "after Ron left. I didn't understand why you didn't go with him... I mean," Harry quickly recovered, seeing the hurt look in Hermione's eyes, "I do understand and I could never thank you enough, but..." Harry hesitated with a deep sigh and was forced to look away from her, recalling those dark days.
He started again, this time though with a softer tone and his eyes to the ground, "I wanted you to go with him... I wanted you to be able to get away, to escape, to be free from it all..." Harry paused again. They were both choked with memories.
Hermione tried to start but Harry stopped her.
"All I do is hurt those around me..."
"Har-" Hermione again tried to interrupt but Harry would not let her.
"It was because you were my friend, Hermione, that you were in danger and you had to hex your parents and hide them half a world away without any memory of you. It was because you were my friend, Hermione, that you had to sacrifice so much, go into hiding, go on the run, hunted... your life always in danger..." Harry found it difficult to talk on.
Hermione reached up for his face, but Harry grabbed her arms and instead, surprising both of them, pulled her close to him, almost violently, looking deeply into her brown eyes, talking as serious as death to her. "We were alone out there, alone in the woods, alone on our mission. Just a couple of kids with no plan, no idea of what to do or where to go. No hope. At one point, I was going to leave you, Hermione, force you to return to the Burrow..." Hermione frowned so deeply at this that it tugged at Harry's heart.
"But I couldn't," Harry sighed, more in shame of his own weakness than in Hermione's disappointment. "You were there with me, Hermione, and I knew that no matter how bad I just wanted you to escape, I knew that I needed you there with me, that with you, we'd somehow pull it off. And we did - thanks to you, Hermione."
"Harry, no-" but Harry still would not let her speak. He still had more to say.
"If we did make it," Harry started his story once again, "I knew that it would be my turn to help you," Harry was firm and spoke with conviction, "help you get your parents back, one way or the other. But then the question was, how?" Harry shook his head.
"It's no secret, I haven't got your brains, but I began to think about it. I knew you'd erased much of their memories and created false lives for them - no way Lockhart's cheap tricks could pull off something like that, but then again, if not that, then what?"
"I didn't exactly have a lot of resources out in the woods, but what I did have-"
"Harry?" Hermione tried to make sense of what he was saying, shaking her head in confusion, as if trying to drive out all the nonsense, but Harry persisted in his story.
"-were your books."
"Harry!" her eyes shot open.
"Sorry, I didn't think you'd mind...” Harry felt afraid, as if he'd been caught snooping into her diary or something. “We... we kept all of our supplies in your little pouch,” he tried explaining himself, “including a number of your books.”
Finally the truth of what Harry was telling her began to dawn.
“I was just sure you'd have to have something on it. You were the one who cast the charm after all, and low and behold, I found just the book, "Know thy Mind, An in-depth look at magic and the brain by Matilda Hathshire!" Harry quoted the title and author proudly.
"Most the spells didn't make sense..." Harry went on. "They were too dangerous, too much chance that the spell could wear off or for them to risk long term, permanent damage. But there was one..." Harry baited her as he saw the realization set in on her face, "and as it just so happens, you had it dog eared," Harry said gleaming.
"I can't believe you, Harry! You-" Hermione said breathlessly.
"What? It's not like I had much else to do! Anyways, as I was saying," Harry gave her a look, "turned out the spell wasn't a spell at all, but rather a potion, and one I recognized at that!"
"You recognized? But we never-"
"Covered it in class? No. This one I remembered from the Prince's book. It sounded cool, Merlin's Merosia. Have someone drink that stuff and with the right wand work, their minds and memories are putty in your hands. I'd read over it quite a bit."
"Yeah, the Half-Blood Prince," Harry slightly flinched upon admitting this, half expecting Hermione to lash out at him or something.
"But Harry, you got rid of that book? It's dangerous!" she protested, giving Harry the stern look a mother would when lecturing her disobedient child.
"Yes," Harry answered simply while attempting to suppress his grin. "I figured you wouldn't be too happy about it... but, I needed that book Hermione. I mean, if we were to get your parents back and restore their memories properly, I had to get it back."
"My parents? But, why the Prince's potion book, the antidote is-"
"Is not quite right in your book. Like I was saying," Harry was stern in his determination to get his whole story out, "I had recognized the potion. It's quite complex - I admit, I'm a little surprised you pulled it off..." Harry said before shaking his head. "No, on second thought, I'm not surprised at all, but then again, as I recalled, the Prince hadn't been so critical of the actual potion, but the antidote - the antidote he tore to shreds."
"But Harry, what are you saying?!"
"I'm saying that I didn't trust your book's antidote. If we were to restore your parents' memories back properly, then we needed the Prince's book."
"But you left that..."
"In the Room of Requirement - a place to hide things..."
"Then how..?" Hermione lingered. The room had been destroyed by Crabbe and Goyle's Inferno, but by the look in Harry's eyes, she knew - he had it. "Ravenclaw's Diadem..." it finally came to her - he must have gone for the book first!
"Yep," was all Harry said as if he could read her thoughts. He could see her raw anger at him for going back for it boiling, but he was undaunted. It was indeed, a "necessary evil."
"I can't believe you, Harry!” she objected, but Harry did not back down. “Even so, it takes days to for it to brew and if we leave today how will we get the proper ingredients and..?!" she started her ramblings again,.
"That's right. Sixty-eight hours to be exact," Harry interrupted her.
"Immediately after I left Dumbledore's office after the battle. I figured Snape wouldn't mind me snooping through his stock one last time..." Harry said mischievously.
"Harry?!" Hermione was in shock. She watched him in silence as Harry pulled out a small pouch from about his neck that matched her own. They had been split up from one another and Harry had missed the convenience of it.
"Accio Potion," he said, and sure enough, two small, corked vials sprung from his pouch. The liquid within was thick and of a perfect purplish hue that Hermione immediately recognized from the book's pictures and descriptions. It looked perfect.
Tears swelled in her eyes again. She had for so long now dreaded this moment, stressed about it, unsure of what to do, of having to plan a trip to Australia, of having to make the antidote, of the time and complexity it would all take. And now, Harry had taken care of everything. She was so happy she thought she could kiss him. The tears coming in full force, she fell back into Harry's arms, sobbing and thanking him again and again.
"There's no need to thank me," Harry said. "You've already done as much and more for me. It's the least I co-" but Harry was cut short as Hermione reached up on her tip-toes and pressed her lips to his cheek. Harry was sure his face was lit on fire and he could no longer speak.
"Harry, how are we going to get away from dumb and dumber out there?" Hermione finally asked. Harry reached into his pouch one last time and retrieved a white Rook of a chess set. With the wave of his wand, the piece lit up and began to glow blue.
“Guess I've been doing a lot of reading,” Harry said with a smile.
. . . . .
In preparation, Harry had already packed most his things, but there were still the last items and then Ron's things to begin collecting and stowing away. He was busy doing thus when he suddenly saw Ron in the door way.
"Ron! I'm glad you came as fast. Come on, we've got to get you packed. The flight leaves in just two hours." Harry moved even quicker now, but pulled up short after Ron did not make to move. "Ron?"
"H-Harry..." Ron stepped in and began pacing in circles, his face red. Harry stopped what he was doing and looked to his best mate. "Harry, I don't understand, why don't we just have the Ministry-"
"We've been over this Ron!" Harry cut off his friend as his temper flickered. "Hermione sent her parents off without any memory of her, half a world away. If it were your parents, would you want some idiotic Ministry official sent to retrieve them, to force some spell and potion on them?"
"YES!" Ron bellowed. Harry was left speechless. He could not comprehend what had come over Ron and could only frown and shake his head.
"We're going Ron, and we're not telling the Ministry, period." Ron grimaced at Harry's words.
"Who died and made you boss?!" Ron shot back. “It's Hermione's parents!”
Harry spun on a dime and stared down his best mate. "It's not for me you git, it's for Hermione, and it's what she wants!"
"But..?!" Ron threw his arms up in exacerbation, turning bright red in the face. "Has either of you stopped to think about me?! To think about my family?! Fred?!"
"And now with Charlie and Bill and George all leaving, how can you expect me to do that to my mum?! Just disappear again?!"
It was Harry's turn to grimace. Ron was right after all, it wasn't fair to his mum or dad and it would most certainly give them both an ulcer, but Harry saw no other way. If they did tell Ron's parents, there was no way they'd let them go alone, but Harry also knew that this was the only way they could do it, the only way Hermione would want it.
"I can't just disappear on them again, Harry! Mum will have a fit!" Ron said with more finality.
"We can leave a letter. She'll understand when we get back," Harry shifted uneasily. It wasn't easy either way.
"And who knows how long that'll take..." Ron flapped his arms. Harry frowned for his friend.
"Listen Ron," Harry grasped Ron by the shoulder. "You, your family, and Hermione, you are all I've got. I'd do anything for any of you - anything!" Harry punctuated this. "That's what families do, they take care of one another, and right now, your family needs you. I know this. Hermione know's it. But also, Ron, right now, Hermione's family needs her and we can't just let her go on her own... I can't."
"Oh, shove off!" Ron brushed Harry's hand away. "And you think I could?!"
"No... that's not what I meant!" Harry grew frustrated.
"Right," said Ron doubtfully. "Where is she?"
"It's what she wants Ron, it's what's best, why can't you see that?!"
"And she can't speak for herself?!"
"Of course she can, Ron..." Harry frowned as he saw that old jealousy flaming up in his friend once more. "She's in Ginny's room."
Ron turned and stormed out, slamming the door behind him.
Harry was about to follow him but then stopped, thinking better of it. Hermione had a much better chance of making him see reason than he did. He would only make matters worse.
Harry finished packing and by the time he had his trunk fit into his pouch, he was startled by a loud yell and another slammed door.
Harry made for Ron's door once again, but with his hand was on the knob, he heard heavy, angry footsteps stomping by. Ginny's door swung back open.
"Ron! Ron, wait! Please!" a crying Hermione chased down the stairs after him. Once the landing was clear, Harry went on to follow them. 'Damn you Ron!' Harry could not suppress the thought.
Once outside, Harry found Hermione, alone, bent and crying with her hands covering her tear streaked face. Harry walked slowly up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, comforting her. Hermione turned to him and sank her head into his chest. Ron would not be coming.
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