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Chapter 15 : Missing
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It was a lonely night sky. The Moon was only a crescent of what it was before, jeering Hermione. Only once in a Blue Moon.
Hermione stared longingly out the little, round window at the passing stars, away to the glowing moon. It's light reflected off the pastures of clouds below, rolling beneath them like fields of snow. The Moon and all it's silvery beauty, it reminded her of that night.
It had been nearly a week since Harry had left. It took them time to make all the final arrangements with the resort, and in the end, her parents weren't even sure they wanted to sale the place to return back to their dental practices.
Their memories had been restored, yes, but they also still remembered all of this last year, all they'd experienced, all they'd learned about each other and themselves. Hermione had a feeling that she was going to like her parents' new selves.
If it were even possible, Hermione and her mum seemed to be closer than ever, staying up long hours of the nights with each other, remembering old times, recounting this past year, this past week.
She had been so consumed by what had happened, what she was having to return to, to Ron... to Harry. She had her parents back, yes, but she had no more than filled one hole when another was ripped right out of her. She looked to the moon, wandering if Harry was out there somewhere now, looking back up at it at the same time.
She felt a soft hand placed on her knee. Hermione looked to her mum. Seeing the worry on her daughter's face, Helen tried to offer her a reassuring smile, but it looked more like a frown to Hermione. She looked past her mother to her sleeping father.
This was it. They were going back. After her parents had dropped hints about wanting to keep the resort, Hermione could not forget Harry's words of just wanting to stay, leave England all behind them, and oh how good did that seem now.
Hermione had eventually admitted everything to her mum during their last days in Australia, what had happened between her and Harry, what he truly meant to her. As her mother, it was obvious Helen did not approve, but Hermione was now a woman, she'd fought in a war for crying out loud, and Harry's absence had been destroying her inside. She had to talk to someone.
“Just don't run off thinking you can tell your father any of these crazy stories! He still likes Harry,” her mum had teased her then.
“Don't worry, hun,” her mum reassured her now as they road back on the plane, just two hours away. “You'll see, it will all work out for the best.”
“I know...” Hermione sighed, “and I think that's what I am afraid of...” she pictured Harry and Ginny together.
. . . .
Upon their arrival, Hermione scripted several letters to be sent out at once, letting those she had left worrying know she was back with her parents and safe and of how sorry she was for leaving like she had.
She wrote to Ron. It was not easy. She wrote another to Mr and Mrs Weasley, to Professor McGonagall... and one to Harry.
Although she now had her parents back, Harry's absence had left a massive void in her. She hated herself for what she had done to him, necessary or not, and now, not being able to talk to him, to explain further... it was eating away at her.
She took two more days getting settled in, stalling, starting any time the door bell rang, both hoping it was, and was not, Harry or Ron. She received kind replies and understandings from Arthur and Molly and McGonagall, but no word from her two boys.
Unable to stand it any longer, she finally gathered that Gryffindor courage to face them. No doubt they both hated her now. No more than she felt she deserved.
She called on them unannounced, dropping in at the Burrow. She mulled around on the front porch for nearly ten minutes before she dared to knock.
It had been exactly seven days now since Harry had left her with her parents in Australia. Thirteen since they had left from here for the airport. Only sixteen since the end of the war... was that really all? So much seemed to have happened since then.
As she stood on the porch of the Burrow, about to knock, an insane amount of guilt and insecurity washed over her. Harry... How could she stand before him and look into those eyes after what she had done? How could she ever mend things with Ron? This was going to be dreadful.
Hermione knocked. The Burrow seemed oddly quiet for midday. She heard the screech of a scooting chair. The padded echo of nearing steps. The door opened. It was perhaps the worst person imaginable. Hermione had not anticipated it.
"Hermione?" the redhead cocked her head to one side.
"Hi Ginny," Hermione said sheepishly, catching the sight of a boy at the kitchen table. Harry was here, with her... she was going to have to face them together. No less than she deserved.
"Where's Harry?" Ginny demanded immediately.
"Wha-?" Hermione glanced back over Ginny's shoulder - seeing a wide eyed Dean Thomas staring back at her. 'What?'
"Where's Harry? Is he here?!" Ginny asked with more urgency looking past Hermione about the yard.
"I... no..." Hermione sighed, looking back to the girl in front of her with utter confusion. "I thought he'd be here..."
"Here?!" Ginny scoffed, narrowing her eyes at her. "He was with you." Hermione did not miss the malice in Ginny's voice.
"He left seven days ago..." Hermione's mind was now wandering. Where could he be?
"Well, I haven't seen him. I'd try Ron," Ginny said with distaste.
"Ron's not here?"
"Ron? Here?!” Ginny laughed pitchedly at this. “Well, you have missed a lot, haven't you?! Here,” she turned around and grabbed an issue of the Daily Prophet off the table. “Read up. There's some great entertainment in there. You can find him at George's... if you still want to, that is,” she said, and before Hermione could ask what she meant by that, Ginny frowned a deep frown, almost like she was on the verge of tears. “He'll be really happy you two are back. Hope you can straighten him out before he gives mum a stroke.”
“Oookay...” Hermione drew out the word, not exactly understanding.
“Anyways, did you want to come in?" it did not come out as exactly a warm invite.
"No," Hermione said. "I need to find the boys." My boys.
. . . .
The world had done a one-eighty in her absence. The dark times of the war were over and everywhere she went there were witches and wizards out celebrating. She found it hard to get around, being stopped and thanked or asked for an autograph at every turn. She couldn't help but think of Harry through all of this and of how miserable he must be.
At the end of the lane she came before the place she knew she should have looked first, but wanted with all her heart to come last. Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
It was later now, nearing closing time, but the shop was still bustling. Stressed parents chased their little ones around the winding aisles as miniature fireworks popped off and glowed over their heads above. Bells chimed and whistles blew. Bright and vibrant colors sparkled from every direction.
"Hermione?" she heard her name called from behind her. "Hermione!" George cheered as she spotted him. The two met each other half-way down the aisle with a very warm hug.
"How's the parents?!" he asked, looking her over.
"Good. We got back three days ago... just been busy getting them settled in. Looks like the shop is doing well!"
"Better than ever!" George gleamed with pride. "Now that we've got Ron as a full time guinea pig,” he winked at her, “we've been rolling out the new tricks daily! But enough of that, where's Harry? We've got a load to fill him in on!" George could hardly contain his excitement.
Hermione frowned. Harry was not here either... "I-I'm not exactly sure... I was hoping..." Hermione trailed off as her shoulders slumped. Where was he? George looked down to her suspiciously.
"Ron..." Hermione shifted with unease, "is- is he here?"
George grew more serious. "In the back, stocking," George thumbed over his shoulder. Hermione did not like the look in his eyes.
. . . .
Ron did not notice her come him. With sweat pouring from his brow, his focus was diligently on his work at hand.
"Ron..." the sound of his name wafted faintly through the air. He looked up.
"Hermione?" Ron looked back at her surprised, as if she were a Crumpled-Horned Snorkak. “Wow, I...” he started fidgeting as his eyes darted nervously about the room. “Everything all right then? With your parents I mean...” Ron ran his fingers through his hair. If Hermione had seen any of the papers... and he knew how much of a glutton she was for news and for the Prophet, he was in some serious trouble.
“Yeah...” Hermione was at a loss for words. “Everything is... oh, Ron!" she could not hold back any longer. The calamity that was now her life came gushing forward in the form of tears and sobs as she collapsed into Ron's arms.
The two did not talk for the longest time. He held her, cooing her. He was not daft, he knew his lecture would be coming, but right now... right now she just needed his friendship. He chewed on his lip as he remembered their last parting and his subsequent behavior these last couple of weeks.
They moved up to Ron's flat before they started their explanations, accounting for the past two weeks of their lives. Each left much to be said, but neither grew angry with the other, as each had enough on their own consciences at the moment.
“Then, where's Harry?” Ron asked confused.
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