Chapter 12 : The Tale
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It was already dark. Hermione had searched everywhere and anywhere all afternoon and well into the evening before she started to emotionally break down and was forced to retreat back to their room... Her and Harry's room. But now Harry had left her too. She had no more than let out a wrenching sob then there came a knock at the door.
"Come in!" Hermione called as she frantically tried to pull herself together as best she could. She was in a terrible state, but hopefully her unknowing parents had some kind of news about Harry. She wiped at her tear streaked eyes as the door opened, but it was not Monica or Wendell, it was Harry...
"Harry!" Hermione cried as she rushed him, slamming into him as she wrapped her arms around him, crying.
Harry was kind enough to let her sobs settle before he grabbed her by the wrists and peeled her armsback from about him.
"Harry?" Her eyes pleaded up to his, but he would not meet her gaze, looking out over her shoulder to some unseen distance.
"Hermione, I..." Harry's tone was grave. "I've told them."
"What?!" Hermione's mouth gaped.
"O-only that we have something very important to talk to them about..." Hermione stared back at him, her mind reeling. Right now, she needed to talk to him and him alone. "They're waiting down at the lounge for us now," his words tolled like a dong in her head.
"Harry! Why... I can't... not now, we need to..." her tears started fresh.
"We need to go,” Harry said determinedly, cutting her off. “I came here to help you do that, to set things straight... and... and I can't... I can't stay here any longer.”
"But... But I can't - I don't..."
"I'm going to be there for you," these words never sounded so unsure. “We can do it, together...” Harry winced at his own choice of words. Together... together's days were now numbered.
Hermione wanted to break. This was destroying her. She needed to talk to him, to explain things, but then say what? She'd already made her decision. She'd already done the damage. How could revisiting it all over again help anything?
She tried her best to pull herself together. She had to, she had to do it for Harry. Ron would never forgive Harry. Ginny would never forgive him. She had met the Dursleys herself, the Weasleys were Harry's family, she could not be the cause of that divide. She could not let herself buckle, no matter what her broken heart was telling her.
. . . .
Harry held her hand the whole way. She needed him and no matter how hard it was, he could never deny her.
Wendell and Monica Wilkins were waiting for them in the lounge of the Main Building. They were already suspicious as to the odd summonings, but were even further alarmed by the panic they saw stricken on Hermione's face.
"Is everything okay?" Wendell asked immediately, rising from his seat with a sense of urgency as he looked between the two.
"Kind of..." Harry said as he led Hermione to a chair opposite the Wilkins who sat together on the sofa.
"What do you mean?" Monica leaned nervously forward, watching Hermione carefully.
"Well..." Harry said, looking to Hermione first, but she was staring away, chewing on the nail of her thumb again. Harry leaned down to her, pulling her hand back. "I'm gonna start it, Hermione, okay? Whenever you want to jump it, you just do it, alright?" Hermione nodded. Harry turned back to the wide eyed Wilkins's.
"Well..." Wendell now said, seated again but with both of them now leaning forward on the edge of the couch. He seemed much more serious about the matter now then when Harry had first asked for the meeting.
"Are you in trouble?" Monica asked with a sense of uncertainty.
"Well," Harry said, "that's to be determined..." he gave a nervous chuckle as he scratched at the back of his head. Wendell and Monica looked to each other with alarm. "Where to start..?" Harry asked himself.
Harry waited for them to turn back to him again and Wendell gave him a nod as to go on. "What I have to tell you isn't easy... It's not easy for me to tell it, and it definitely isn't going to be easy for you to hear it."
Monica clutched at her husband's hand.
"It - it's going to sound a little crazy even...” Harry went on, “but I think if you'll just hear me out to the end... I swear to you that every word is true, and in the end, I think you'll see it too..?" Harry said unsure of himself, waiting for them to nod before he continued.
The Wilkins' faces betrayed fear and angst, only spiking Harry's nerves. Hermione was still looking away with tears swelled in her eyes, but as Harry looked to her, he remembered why he was here and how much this brown haired girl had sacrificed for him. Harry clenched his fists and turned back to her parents, determined.
"Our real names aren't James and Anna..." Harry just blurted it out, committing himself to finishing this tale. The Wilkins' brows furrowed with confusion as they stared back at Harry, waiting for him to go on. "Our real names are Harry and Hermione. Harry James Potter and Hermione Jean Granger."
Harry witnessed the two glance at one another with what he could have sworn was some kind of recognition in their eyes. Had they recognized their daughter's name?
"We're not newly weds..." Harry admitted.
"I don't-" Monica tried to interrupt, but Harry stopped her.
"Please, believe me, this isn't easy for me either. It will probably be best if you just let me get through my ramblings, then we can answer any questions you have." They both nodded.
"We're best friends, like brother and sister really..." Harry noticed them share a doubtful glance at Harry's claim. They had seen the two all week together, and that was not the actions of just two close friends.
"Go on," Wendell said.
"I guess it's easiest if I just start at the beginning," Harry huffed. "Well, here it goes..."
"In another time..." Harry struggled with his words, beginning as if he were telling some fairytale. "In a world a lot like this one, there also lived... witches and wizards...” he couldn't have felt more foolish as he watched their faces screw into some form of shock and disgust.
"James!" Wendell slapped the table before him. "If you're just gonna stand there and-"
"Wendell, please. We agreed we'd at least hear them out!" Monica thankfully saved him. "Please, sweetie, go on," she said.
Harry had to struggle to regain his nerve. “ These... well, magic was real. These... witches and wizards...” his eyes darted back and forth across their doubtful faces, “lived along side regular people. But...” he found his words harder and harder to find. “Muggles... er, non-magical people,” he explained, “they... they feared them, as I guess you could imagine. You've heard of burnings at the stake and stuff, right?” he tried with a nervous laugh, but the Wilkins' faces were like stone.
“Yeah, er... well,” he went on nonetheless. “This all led to a bunch of fighting and war and killing... and while the magicians were powerful, their... their numbers were few,” Harry nodded, wishing he'd paid more attention in Magical History. 'Hermione should really be the one standing up here,' he thought to himself.
“Well... rather than risk the lives of their few and the untold number of muggles – nonmagic people," he added, seeing their confused look at his continuous use of the word muggles, "the witches and wizards decided to go into hiding... to separate themselves from muggles...” Harry started fidgeting worse than ever. 'Would rather be in detention with Umbridge!' he couldn't help but fantasize. He'd never felt so ridiculous.
“They... they passed a law. Witches and wizards had to cut themselves off from the muggles. To go on living with them, amongst them, but never revealing themselves to them. It would become the Statute of Secrecy..."
He waited for some understanding, but of course there would be none. But, at least on the bright side, both Wendell and Monica were still sitting there and hadn't yet stormed out on him.
"Centuries passed. The magicians kept to their secrecy, but that doesn't mean there weren't a lot who wanted the law undone, who from the beginning, preferred war and mastery as opposed to exile and oblivion,” Harry started to gain a little more faith in himself. “In the end, it was only a matter of time before one came along strong enough to challenge it all.”
Harry shivered as he remembered those cold, red eyes. “He came... not so long ago," Harry swallowed hard. "His given name was Tom Marvolo Riddle. His chosen, the Dark Lord Voldemort. To those who dare speak of him, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He is to this day, the darkest, most powerful wizard ever have to lived on this earth..." Harry watched them frown at his child like story.
Recalling this all too familiar past, Harry shared with the two disbelieving muggles the evils and the powers of the Dark Lord. He was doing better with his story now as he watched Monica cling to Wendell at some of the darker tales. He referred to natural disasters and calamities that even they had heard of. He told them stories of war, of harrowing tales of those that fought back against him. Of the blood spilt and the lives lost. Of Voldemort's near success.
"But then there came this fateful prophecy, nearly eighteen years ago...” Harry sighed. He felt sapped just thinking of it. “It... it was a prophecy of him and of one destined to destroy him. "Neither could live while the other survives..."” he quoted it. “Voldemort heard of the prophecy... but there was just one problem. This supposed savior was only an child, an infant, not even a year old...”
His coming words felt weighted, as if he were having to drag a ton of bricks to bring them out. He told them of an baby boy. Of his parents who died trying to protect him. He told them of the killing curse and how, by the mother's sacrifice, it had been rebounded onto Voldemort himself.
Wendell and Monica looked to each other puzzled. What could they say? Harry would not give them the chance though. Moving on, he lead them into another story, of another miracle that had occurred only a little over a year before.
"It does not happen often, but it does happen." Harry told them of squibs, and vice-versa, of muggle born witches and wizards. He told them of two. Of a boy and a girl, born only a month apart, both raised as muggles, but both possessed with powers they knew not.
Harry told them of Hogwarts. Of the letter. He told them of that boy and that girl meeting upon the train their first day, of their following friendship and of their journey together. Harry told them everything of the girl. Of her brilliance. Of her courage. Of her loyalty.
He recounted their challenges in intricate detail. Of the mountain troll that bound them. Of the Basilisk that the girl revealed and nearly gave her life in an attempt to save others from. He recounted the girl's Time-Turner, of her bizarre studies with a light chuckle, and of how she helped the boy get through school. He shared with them of how she helped the boy save his godfather, of her love for the unfortunate and of saving Buckbeak and S.PE.W. He told them of the Tri-Wizard Tournament and how only by the girl's genius, did the boy survive. He told them of the return of Voldemort and the return of darkness.
"This boy was marked for death. The most evil, powerful creature alive was hell bent on it. No one near him was safe."
Harry told them of the boy's only surviving relatives having to go into hiding before he paused once more to look back to Hermione.
'I can't...' she mouthed to him, shaking her head as tears ran from her eyes.
"And the girl... she was the closest thing... his best friend. For that alone, her life was in mortal danger. But the boy had a mission to do. No matter how long the odds, it was he who was destined to end the darkness. It was he that, in the end, would have to be the one to face off with Voldemort. It would have to be he that ended it, once and for all.
And if he were to ever succeed, he would need her with him. But she had a family of her own to think of. Muggles themselves, they would be helpless against Voldemort's thugs. She had to hide them, but they, the loving parents they were - are - would never let their daughter go... but she had to. Using magic, she wiped her parents memories of her, of their true lives, and moved them half a world away, where none could find them. Where they were safe."
Harry stopped here. Wendell and Monica shared a long, reserved look.
"H-Harry," Wendell started, "what exactly are you trying to tell us?"
The two adults fell back in their seats, looking exhausted, as Harry reached to the back of his waist band and drew out a short, intricately carved stick.
"W-what are you..?" Wendell stammered as he and his wife clung to one another.
Both gasped with shock as Harry aimed his wand at each of the windows and in quick succession, as if by magic, each shuttered closed in turn.
"James?!" Monica squealed nervously.
"How..?" Wendell mumbled aghast.
"Magic," Harry answered. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a folded piece of paper and tossed it into the air towards the Wilkins's'. It no sooner began to fall than with a flick of his wand, it transformed into a swan origami and began beating it's thin paper wings, keeping itself a float.
It bobbed haphazardly through the air, drawing ever closer to the now both terrified, and yet astonished Wendell and Monica. Their eyes were glued to it.
Finally reaching them, with a slight pop, the folded swan came undone into a flat, uncreased sheet of glossy paper. It slowly, wafting back and forth, drifted down into their laps. Their eyes did not leave it, but lingered there for several minutes. Harry did not disturb them, but allowed the full weight of what he had just revealed to them set in.
When Monica finally did lift her eyes, they were filled with tears. She looked to Hermione first, who was staring at the floor, before turning back to Harry. "What... what happened then..?" she croaked. Harry looked to her questioningly. "Y-you said... you said that the boy and the girl had hid their families, that they had hid them to go on the run, t-to fight... this - this V-Voldemort?"
"Yes..." Harry nodded with a heavy sigh. "It wasn't easy. It was hard and dark and hopeless. But... somehow, by some miracle, they survived..."
"The boy beat him then?" Wendell asked with furrowed brows, as if he actually believed the story. Harry nodded again, a lump in his throat. And then to Harry's surprise, Wendell added a furtive, approving nod of his own as he knocked the top of the table with the bottom of his fist.
"And then the girl..?" Monica's voice was choked. Tears were streaming down her face now. Their eyes followed Harry's as he looked over his shoulder to the sitting, fidgeting Hermione.
Hermione looked petrified. She could not move. She could not speak as her parents' eyes fell upon her.
"Can... can you help us remember again?" Wendell asked in nothing more than a whisper.
If he hadn't been so distressed, his mind wandering through a thousand different thoughts, Harry might have fallen right over. He was prepared for an argument, for them to laugh at him and call him a fool... but no. They were as good and as honest as he had come to believe. Harry, sapped of all his strength, again could only nod.
Wendell stood up. He glanced to his wife before he looked back up to Harry, and then to Hermione.
"Anna... H-Hermione, is it true?" he asked, tears now in his own eyes.
Hermione first let out a loud sob, before she spoke for the first time. "Mum, dad..?"
Monica then sobbed in turn, clutching at the photo she had in her hand. In it was a young girl and her two parents. Anna, Wendell, and Monica. Hermione, Daniel, and Helen. She could not make sense of it all, of anything, but in her bones, she knew it all to be true. Gasping, she leapt from her seat on the sofa and sprung for her daughter. Hermione met her on the floor and the two grasped each other, hugging, tucking their faces into each others identical brown, bushy hair, sobbing uncontrollably.
Harry just watched them as Wendell walked up to his side.
"I... I don't know how it all works," Wendell started timidly, “but I guess we've always known, always suspected, that something was off. That something was... missing."
Harry looked to him.
"But when you two came here, when we saw her..." Wendell smiled, looking at his wife and daughter, "how could one not see Monica in her?"
Harry chuckled to himself. "I thought the same thing when I first saw Mrs Granger."
"Mrs Granger?" Wendell asked.
"Yes," Harry stated. "Mr and Mrs Granger, Daniel and Helen Granger, to be exact."
Wendell nodded, then frowned. "Will we ever be able to remember again?" he asked hesitantly.
"Yes," Harry answered simply.
Harry presented him with the two small vials of purplish potion out a pouch from about his neck.
"What is that?” he asked dubiously.
“An antidote,” Harry kept it simple.
“What will we remember?"
"Everything," Harry said. "This potion will take you into a deep sleep. When you awake, you'll remember this, this last year, your lives before, everything."
With the help of the Half-Blood Prince, Harry had done well with the potion. It's effects were almost immediate as Wendell and Monica nearly toppled over in the lounge. Harry and Hermione helped them to their room, settling them in bed. Hermione had every intention of being there beside them when they woke, but exhausted from all the emotions of the day, Harry used his wand to make her a bed as she drifted off to sleep.
. . . .
"Hermione..." a voice echoed in her dreams. "Hermione..." a second, softer voice beckoned her. Hermione's eyes fluttered open and at once they filled with tears. Standing over her were no longer Wendell and Monica Wilkins, but her mum and dad, Helen and Daniel Granger.
They hugged and they cried as Hermione muttered apology after apology and they pleaded with her to stop. After a long spell of this, Hermione became aware of a missing piece to her.
"Harry?" she called and looked over her parents shoulders for him. She owed him more than one thank you as well. But they frowned for her. There, on the vanity were the only traces they would find of Harry Potter. Three Passports identifying each of the Grangers and three First Class tickets for a one-way flight to Great Britain.
. . . .
A/N: Well, if you've stuck with me for this long, thank you! Would love to hear your thoughts, remarks, critique, etc. It's the only way I can learn.
Though I did not title it as such, this is the effective end to Part One, if you will, the building and undoing of Harry and Hermione's relationship after the war. I've tried to stay as close to canon as possible, obviously however ignoring the epilogue. What can I say, I'm a Harmony fan. I would like to apologize for a couple of things. It has been years since I've read the novels, and being a native Texan, it is almost impossible for me to accurately capture British talk and slang, short of throwing in a "bloody hell" here and a "blimey" there.
There will be a total of three such parts. Part Two will be the longest, and begins with the very next chapter, and running until approximately Chapter Thirty. I've completed most the story, it just takes so bloody long to have each chapter validated. Part One has been exclusivley romance, if I dare claim such, and the next will be much, much more action-adventure oriented.
Hope you've enjoyed so far, and please review. Thank you!
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