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Chapter 8 : Second Guessing
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Ron woke up early, feeling extremely hungry. 'Boy was I tired I slept right through dinner!' he thought. Still in a haze he went downstairs in his pajamas, not noticing Harry was not there.
Ginny woke up early too. She rubbed her cheek, vaguely remembering that someone had kissed her goodnight. 'It must have been Harry' she thought, getting up and stretching. Glancing over at Hermione's bed, she saw it was already made. "Shows how soundly I was sleeping" she muttered, thinking that she did not hear Hermione get up. The smell of bacon frying drifted upstairs, which made her very hungry. That and she had no memory of dinner. She slid out of bed and bumped into Ron as she walked into the narrow hallway.
"Sorry" he said. "Tired too?"
Ginny nodded "And hungry. Was Harry still asleep?"
"Didn't see him. Must have gone to help Mom."
"Hermione too. They're both gits."
"True but they are our gits."
Laughing both of them entered the kitchen. Their mother was cooking pancakes, and they heard the 'whoosh' of the floo. "Your Dad just left. Lots of meetings today. He and Percy will be very busy" she said proudly, now that her son was names the Minister's Assistant officially.
"I'm sure my dear brother will be" Ginny responded, smiling at the thought of 'Pompous Percy' strutting around telling people how to do their jobs.
"Mom where's Hermione?" Ron asked, his mouth full of hot bacon, which he quickly spit out.
"I don't see Harry either. Did they leave again?" Ginny wondered, getting a bad feeling.
Molly waved her wand, and the pancakes kept an eye on themselves. She sat down at the table with her cup of tea, and began her well prepared story. "Children, I don't know how to tell you this but they are gone. They came back last night while you two were asleep and said that they needed to leave. I'm not entirely sure why, but they could not look me in the eye either. Did anything happen yesterday?" she asked, sipping her cup while waiting for them to reply.
Ron spoke first. "I was afraid this might happen. While we were on the run, I accused Harry and Hermione of wishing I was not there, and that they were having an affair behind my back. Maybe they actually were?" he replied, looking at Ginny.
Ginny's face turned pasty white. Her fears about telling Harry had come true. "Mom please have everyone over for dinner tonight. There is something I need to say." She got up and went outside, curling up on a love seat she and Harry used to sit at.
"Ronald what is wrong?" Molly asked him.
"Wait for Ginny Mom" he replied, going out to join her. He sat down, putting his arm around his sister. "It was too good to be true wasn't it?"
Ginny only nodded, wondering where Hermione and Harry had gone. And hoping they were safe. She remembered last night seeing two people running through the storm.
* * *
Hand in hand Hermione and Harry ran away from the Burrow. As they approached the apparition point, Harry thought he heard Hermione say something. "WHAT?" he yelled over the sound of lightning.
"HOME!" he heard her reply, and he nodded. Between the pouring rain and the fog, he couldn't see a thing. In a flash of lightning he got one brief glimpse of the Burrow and thought he saw someone looking down at them just as they spun, apparating away.
Harry and Hermione fell to their knees on the wet grass. It was not raining quite as hard here, but there were lake sized puddles telling them that the storm had hit there already. Helping Hermione to her feet, he looked around wondering where they were.
"C'mon" she said, taking his soaked hand in hers. They came around a group of bushes, partially flattened from the ferocity of the storm. Harry recognized the back yard of Hermione's parents house. "Put your hand here" she instructed, and he placed the palm of his hand next to hers. "Alohomora" she said, unlocking the side door. "Now you can enter with the protective charm in place too. Just say the spell to unlock the door with your hand on it, and the house will recognize you and let you in."
They crept softly in, afraid of what they would find. "Homenum Revilio" Harry cast, pointing his wand all around him. The spell did not reveal the presence of anyone.
"Lumos" Hermione stated, her wand glowing like a flashlight. Side by side they searched the entire house, which did not take very long since it only had three bedrooms and was two stories tall. Satisfied they were alone they went into the sitting room.
"Incendio" Harry said, and a fire roared to life in the wood and marble fireplace. He waved his wand over both of them, using a drying charm on their clothes and themselves. Together they collapsed onto the couch which was still covered in a sheet Hermione had put there after modifying her parent's memories and sending them to Australia where they would continue to be dentists.
"Harry what are we going to do?" Hermione asked, falling to the side with her head in his lap. He conjured two blankets which he wrapped around them, still chilled from being soaked.
"I don't know Hermione" he replied, feeling like his whole world had been taken from him. Over the years he had lost family and friends one by one. Starting with his parents just after he turned one, then his Godfather who he had barely gotten to know. Then their best friend and his wife during the Battle, along with 50 plus others. "I guess we will need to take care of each other. We are all we have left now."
Harry did not realize he had hit a sore spot for Hermione. Yes she had just lost her boyfriend and his family, which were as close to her and Harry as they could be. Unlike Harry she still had her parents, but with their memories having been changed she may just as well not have been born. He felt the wetness through his jeans, and realized she was crying. He saw the front of his shirt was wet too, so he must be doing the same. He was in too much shock to notice.
"Hermione I think I may have some money with me. Do you want to go and try to ..."
"I'm not hungry" she flatly replied.
"Me neither" he responded as they both stared into the fire.
* * *
Hermione blinked as the sun rose in her face. She was laying on the couch covered in a warm blanket, and a strong arm was around her. "Good Morning Sweetheart" she said, stretching as she reached up to pull Ron's head down so she could kiss him. She was startled when she saw the person had black hair not red, and then she remembered the events from yesterday.
"It's OK. I wish it was her too. No offense" Harry tried to joke.
"What do you think happened?" Hermione asked. "I mean, it's like it was too good to be true."
"I wish I knew. I have spent most of the night trying to think of what I said or did to drive her away. I can't think of a single one. Maybe Mrs. Weasley is right. We have changed" he replied.
Ever the thinker, she came back with "I can't figure it out either. Yes Ron and I quarreled, but in the end we were always there for each other. And he did come back to us Harry. He could have easily stayed away but he didn't. I don't know if we will ever figure this out."
"Well all I know is I'm glad you are my favorite sister" he stated, trying to keep a straight face as he gently teased her.
"But Harry you know that we are not related ... " she started to say as the smile came slowly to his face. "Sorry. Did I ever tell you that you are my favorite brother" she replied, sitting up and giving him the best hug she could.
"So Sis, what do you want to do today?" he mischievously asked.
Hermione got real quiet when Harry said that. "Try to find Mom and Dad" she whispered.
"I'm sorry Hermione" Harry said, leaning back and starting to cry again. "Here I am making jokes! Why aren't your parents here? Because of me, that's why! It was that damn Voldemort and that damn mission of Dumbledore's!" Harry roared. "And now what do we have? We both lost the ones we love because of them, and look what they went through because of me! You probably should stay from me too, before something else happens to you!!!" Harry screamed. He began pacing around the room, mentally counting all the people dead and injured. He dropped to his knees and began to pound the floor with his fists, trying to take out his frustration.
Hermione sat there in horror at how upset and frustrated Harry was. When it seemed like he was running out of energy, which didn't take long since they did not have any dinner or breakfast, she knelt down beside him and cradled his head in her arms. "I know Harry. I feel the same way. Just let it all out" she whispered as she held him. For hours he laid there, screaming at the top of his lungs about every bad thing he felt responsible for, which in his case was everything.
Once he stopped yelling, she said to him. "You know what? You are still my favorite Brother" she told him softly kissing him on the forehead.
"Thank you Sis" he responded, falling asleep on the floor. Hermione placed a blanket on him, curled back up on the couch, and fell back asleep herself.
It was dark when he awoke again. Harry felt physically and mentally drained. He saw Hermione was awake too, blankly staring at the magical fire which had not gone out. "Hungry?" he asked her. She did not reply, just shrugged her shoulders. "C'mon. If I remember right there are some muggle places to eat around here. Let's go" he said, holding out his hand. Hermione got up, waved her wand to straighten her hair, turned to Harry to do the same thing, laughed softly, and they left to start their new lives.
* * *
Everyone was gathered around the dinner table waiting for Ginny to speak. Their mother had warned them this was serious, and they saw Harry and Hermione were not there. Ron began first, talking more about wearing the horcrux, and the feelings it brought out. Ginny echoed him, explaining more about how it affected your emotions. Everything seemed wrong, and you felt like you were mad at the world.
She continued on with talking about the last year at Hogwarts. How frustrated she was at not being able to accompany Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Yes she understood why she couldn't, but it didn't help. Once the school year began, everything that could have gone wrong did. She helped to restart the DA, and their mission was to disrupt the 'Slytherin Squads', as they were called. It was on one such mission that she and three others were captured. Taken to the dungeons they were tortured for information, mainly about Harry and the school defenses, which she had no knowledge of. "The night with Pansy Parkinson was the worst. They combined the Cruciatis and Avada curses, so the people felt another die, along with seeing it happen." She took off her sweater, and everyone gasped. "This is the mark left by it. She did this to me four times. Yesterday afternoon I showed this to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. He seemed fine but I knew he was blaming himself for what happened to me, just like he has with everyone else. I think this is why he left. Because he can't bear to see what he thinks he caused."
"Harry's worst fear when we were out there was that people would get hurt because of him. Seeing this, I understand why he left. It is a reminder of all his mistakes" Ron added.
"And Hermione?" their oldest brother Bill asked.
"I don't think anything went on, but because she is Harry's best friend, she probably felt that he should not be alone. I can't blame her for that" Ron replied. Inside he was worried for them, but he did not know what he should do about it. Try and find them? But where?
Ginny was very concerned too. She could not blame Harry for leaving, despite his feelings for her. 'I bet he is afraid of hurting me even more' she thought.
* * *
To try and make up things to Hermione, they went to the Ministry to see if they could meet with Kingsley about trying to find her parents. The only information they had was that they were somewhere in Australia. Using the floo network from #12 Grimmauld Place, they tried to be as inconspicuous as they could. Drawing as little attention to themselves as possible they made their way to the Minister's Office. Sitting at the desk was a very bored secretary, busy reading a book titled 'Lusting After Harry Potter'.
"Excuse me Miss, but we were wondering if the Minister was in?" Harry asked.
"Do you have an appointment?" she lazily replied, not taking her eyes off the book.
"No mam" Hermione answered.
"Then he isn't in" she stated turning the page.
Hermione pulled out her wand but Harry stopped her. "Let's leave a note for him." He conjured a piece of parchment and wrote on it why he and Hermione were there. "Please give this to him for us."
The secretary waved them off, continuing to read her book. Every now and then Hermione saw her chew her gum faster, licking her lips as she read the trashy novel. It was all Hermione could do to keep from hexing the woman into next week, but Harry kept his composure pointing at the picture of himself on the cover. Hermione just grunted, thinking that Ginny knew him better than any writer even would.
Silently they left attempting to leave the building. After exiting the lift, they made for the floo network. With only 6 or so steps to go someone brushed against Harry, causing his hood to fall off. "OI EVERYONE!!! IT'S HARRY POTTER !!!" he screamed, causing the Witches and Wizards to literally drop everything and chase them.
Hermione grabbed a handful of floo powder, tossed it into the flames yelling "Grimmauld Place" and pulled Harry in with her. They tumbled out into the parlor, spitting out dust and covered in soot.
"Kreacher" Harry yelled.
"Yes Master Harry" an out of breath Kreacher responded, running from the kitchen.
"Close the floo" commanded Harry. He heard Kreacher snap his fingers. "Thank you" Harry added, coughing up more dust. "We were at the Ministry and some people recognized us. We escaped before they caught up to us."
"But what about Mistress Ginevra and Master Weasley?"
"They were not with us" Hermione flatly responded, stumbling away to go into the loo.
"Kreacher Hermione and I will be staying here tonight. Please make sure two rooms are prepared for us" Harry softly asked.
"Will Masters be eating dinner?" inquired the old Elf.
"Probably not my friend. When Hermione comes out please escort her to her room. Goodnight" Harry woodenly told him and went upstairs.
When Hermione came out she also told Kreacher she was not hungry and went upstairs to bed. He could see how troubled she was too, but stopped himself from asking her why. Or where Ginny and Ron were.
Early the next morning they ate a small breakfast, basically to make Kreacher happy. Top on the list was to get Hermione's childhood home cleaned, confident that the note left for Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt would be delivered. Several days were spent scrubbing everything, most of which they wanted to do by hand to take out their frustration. To Harry this reminded him of his time with the Dursleys but he did not complain once. Every so often they would catch each other crying, or in a corner staring off into space. What Hermione forgot was that the protective spell she used on the house also prevented an owl, or a patronus, from locating them.
* * *
The Weasleys tried to keep Ron and Ginny occupied. They spent time at their brother George's shop, the Ministry with their father, Hogwarts, and Shell Cottage. This backfired because Ron showed Ginny Dobby's grave. He was buried there after their escape from Malfoy Manor.
Ron withdrew even more after this. He was normally on the quiet side, and the reminder of his failure to save Hermione from being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange weighed heavily on him.
Ginny had to be dragged away from Dobby's head stone. She curled up on the ground and refused to leave, crying Harry's name over and over.
"Fleur I don't like what is going on. We all saw in the pensieve what happened in the forest, and felt Harry's feelings for Ginny. Something else has to have happened" Bill Weasley told his wife once Arthur and Molly arrived to take a distraught Ginny home.
"Oui' Beel" she told her husband. This reminded her too much how people initially reacted to her. She used to hear a lot of whispering behind her back, especially by Molly. After the attack she stood by his side, winning the hearts of all the Weasleys. But Fleur still had nagging doubts about her mother in law. It was the snide remarks said just loud enough for her to overhear. She ignored every one pretending that they never happened. Not once did she complain to her boyfriend, then fiance, and later husband about his mother. 'It is between them. It is enough that he has stood up for me, so I cannot ask him to tell her to stop. I will not give her the satisfaction' she would remind herself.
Ginny and Ron went straight to bed, refusing to eat dinner. Molly was furious, but Arthur told her to give them time. "To them, it is like Harry and Hermione have died. You cannot force them to be happy" he told her as he pushed the food around his plate, not really eating himself.
"But Arthur look how thin they are" she complained.
"No Molly. Let them be" he sternly said, pushing his plate angrily away. She heard him leave the kitchen and go into his workshop, slamming the door behind him.
Molly was stuck. She wanted to comfort her children, but they did not want it. She did what she thought was best, not realizing the depth of the emotions the four had for each other. That was her big mistake. And underestimating the love everyone else had for them, and what they were willing to do.
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