Chapter 10 : Reunification
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Harry took a good look at himself in the mirror after he had dismissed Kreacher.
"You look terrible" it told him.
"Thanks. Today I have some things to do" he answered as he began to shave for the first time in a while. 'I must look like one of the residents of Knockturn Alley' he thought. After a shower and getting dressed he stepped back in front of the mirror.
"You look much better now. But you need to eat more" it said this time.
"Thanks. I'll think about it" he replied. He agreed that he did look a lot better, and that he needed to eat more. But just the thought of food turned his stomach. He was tempted to use his magic to shrink his clothes so they would fit better, but decided to wear his cloak instead. He used the floo to go to Gringotts Bank, and went down to his vault. In it he left letters to Ron, Hermione, and Ginny apologizing again for all the hurt he had caused. And to please look after Teddy. In Ginny's he put that he had hoped one day they would have married, but he understood how she felt she should be with someone else. Ron's included the same, and asked him to please do whatever it took to make his sister happy. And that Hermione loved him with all her heart, and they should be together too.
Returning upstairs he knocked and entered Fleur Weasley's office. She was not in, so he made a mental note to return later in the week. Exhausted from the stress and not eating he went back to his house and fell immediately asleep.
The next day he decided to visit Dobby's grave. He apparated to Shell Cottage, and climbed onto the sand dune Dobby was buried in. The tombstone read 'Here lies Dobby, a free Elf'. Harry fell to his knees, again blaming himself for this. For many hours he knelt there until the sun began to set. He returned to his house, mentally drained.
Neville Longbottom was next on his list. He sent his patronus and arrived a few minutes later. Neville was very excited to have a visit from Harry, especially after seeing Ginny and Ron the day before. They were shocked to see how Harry looked. Even remembering how bad he, Ron, and Hermione's appearance had been going into the battle did not prepare Hannah and Neville for what they saw.
"Neville I want to thank you, Hannah, and all the rest of the DA for everything you did to help defeat Riddle. I am very, very sorry that so many brave people lost their lives because of me" Harry said between fits of coughing.
"Here Harry drink this" said Neville's Gran, who handed him a cup of tea. He looked like he could pass out at any moment.
"Thank you" he reluctantly replied, nibbling on the biscuits she had pressed into his other hand. "I wanted to say goodbye. I am going away soon."
"Going away? But where Harry?" Neville anxiously asked. "Hannah and I are getting married, and we wanted you to be in our wedding with us."
"Please Harry?" Hannah asked.
"Let me know when and where" he hastily replied as he got up. "Thank you. But now it is time for me to go." He shook hands with Neville, got a hug from Hannah who felt like she did not want to let go, and apparated away.
Moments later there was a knock on the door. Neville's Gran had sent her patronus to Minerva, telling her that Harry was there.
"You just missed him. He looks terrible Minerva" Augusta Longbottom told him. She went on to say everything Harry had said and done. Hannah and Neville added the information she missed, ending with "Harry says he is going away. To America maybe?" said Hannah.
"Or to try and find Hermione's parents in Australia?" wondered Neville.
"I don't know" Minerva replied. "I am off to the Ministry to see if Kingsley has any more information that might help." She used the floo to go directly there, and was taken immediately in by Percy, who was now stationed in front of the Minister's Office so no additional messages would be lost. She updated all three of them, and was disappointed to find the Australian Ministry had not located Hermione's parents yet. Putting their heads together they decided to bring the DA into the picture to have more eyes and ears 'on the ground'. All but the foursome were summoned to the Ministry and told their help was needed. Lavender Brown even managed to make it, having been discharged from St. Mungo's Hospital the day before.
"Have you tried their houses?" Lavender's boyfriend Seamus Finnigan asked.
"The floo is closed at Grimmauld Place, and fidelius charms are on both. I'm afraid all we can do is to keep watch for them. If any of you do please send a patronus immediately to myself or Kingsley and we will come. Right now all four of them have shut themselves off from the rest of the World. This War was devastating on the whole Wizarding community, but for them things have happened since. What I am about to tell you must not leave this room" Minerva grimly stated. She recounted the highlights of her investigation, and the conclusions drawn.
"I overheard my parents talking when I was little about someone they went to school with who was a real pain" Ernie McMillan told them once the Headmistress had stopped talking.
"Last week my parents told me the same thing. How this reminded them of a schoolmate who did nasty things behind people's backs. They would not tell me their name" Cho Chang added.
"Our mission is to reunite them before anything worse happens. Please update us if you receive any information" Kingsley stated as the DA members left.
* * *
Harry decided since he had his Father's invisibility cloak with him he would go to Hogwarts one final time. He apparated hear the boundary and slipped it on making his way through the gates. The outside had been partially repaired, but the scars from the battle still remained. As he went in the damage was much worse and he hoped they would finish enough for the school to reopen. He entered Gryffindor Tower (the portrait of the Fat Lady had been removed to be repaired) and climbed up to his old room. He stared at his old bed, then curled up in it and took a short nap. Feeling better but still sad at what he blamed himself the umpteenth time for he made his way back down. He paused by the sofa in front of the fireplace, remembering the first time he kissed Ginny after the Quidditch Match. Stumbling out he continued to wander from classroom to classroom. He almost went upstairs to the Headmistress' Office, but feared she might be able to sense him like the previous Headmaster Albus Dumbledore could. So he took a final walk around the grounds, pausing near the monument to his mentor Professor Dumbledore. "I'm sorry I messed this up so badly" he softly told him, Harry's hand resting on the marble crypt. "I promise from now on not to be a bother to anyone anymore." He slowly walked away, past Hagrid's hut, past the tree he and Ginny used to sit at near the lake.
* * *
When Minerva returned from the Ministry there was an uproar in her office. All the portraits were talking at once.
"SILENCE !!" she heard from the one containing Professor Dumbledore. The room grew quiet as he began to talk. "Minerva while you were gone someone entered the castle. He was disillusioned so the portraits did not see him. He walked most of the castle, including the sixth year Gryffindor boys dorm."
"Harry" she bitterly said, mentally kicking herself for not being there.
"Probably" he replied. "While none of us could see him, the energy a human body produces is particular, like fingerprints. But at a very weakened level."
"Augusta Longbottom told me he is a shell of himself. What else can we do?" she lamented, proceeding to tell him of the meeting at the Ministry.
"Very little I am afraid Minerva. Unless you can come up with a reason for them to keep on living" he answered.
"That gives me an idea" she replied waving her wand to produce her patronus again.
* * *
Day after day passed for Hermione, and still no response came from the Minister. Hunger finally drove her out of the house, and she apparated to Diagon Alley after eating at a muggle restaurant near her home. 'The day after tomorrow is Harry's Birthday. I bet he has forgotten completely about it'. She walked along looking into the shop windows. Suddenly she stopped, a sad smile coming to her face. She entered picking what she thought was the perfect gift for her 'brother'. She returned to her parents, and began to clean again. Something told her that she would receive word soon. She only paused long enough to go and buy groceries for the next few days and continued to clean. By the end of the following day the house was immaculate. She stepped outside to look at the exterior of the house, and was surprised to see an owl was there. Like it had been waiting for her. She took it inside and gave it some leftovers she had saved for breakfast. Hastily tearing open the letter, she was disappointed to find it was from Professor McGonagall not the Minister.
The Minister and I have been trying to contact both you and Harry for quite some time. It is incredibly important that we speak with you. Please contact us by July 31st at the latest and make arrangements to meet with us. Lives are at stake.
Hermione cursed herself, forgetting that the charms she used on her parents home and #12 Grimmauld Place prevented anyone else from contacting them. She responded that she will be there at noon tomorrow, and will try and find Harry. Tomorrow will be his birthday so maybe something special can be done for him? She sealed the parchment, attached it to the owl's leg, and sent it on its way.
* * *
Meanwhile Harry was nearing the end of his list. He decided to try one last time to talk to Fleur, and returned to Gringotts Bank. He was very pleased to find her there and made a proposal to her.
"Fleur I know that you and Bill are aware of the contents of my vault."
"I would like to hire you to manage it for me. It's not that I do not trust the goblins here. I don't have any idea what to do with all of it. I know that Professor Dumbledore left his estate to the students of Hogwarts. I want to contribute 10 Million galleons to this."
"But ... "
"No Fleur. If you check I probably have at least 10 times that amount. Did you know I put Hermione, Ron, and Ginny's names on the vault too?"
"You may charge me whatever you like. I am going away, and I do not plan on coming back. I will miss all the Weasleys" he said, giving her a weak hug "but I think this is for the best. Do whatever you can for Ginny, Hermione, and Ron for me. Please?"
" 're u sure Harri‘?"
"Yes I am. I have been too much trouble for too many people for far too long" he answered, not realizing he had repeated his Uncle Vernon Dursley's words to Harry on more than one occasion. "Take care of yourself" he added, looking as forlorn as anyone Fleur had ever seen. Except for perhaps her brother in law George right after his twin Fred died.
Fleur sent her patronus to her husband Bill first, who was down in one of the lower vaults. He returned as quickly as he could to find his wife sitting with her head on her desk.
"What is wrong mon cher'?" he asked.
"Oh Beel" she sobbed, telling him about how bad Harry was. And what amounted to his final instructions. He sent his patronus to Minerva and Kingsley who immediately came to the Bank. Fleur recounted Harry's words, adding that he cares about all of us but not himself.
"Like he was going into the forest again" said Kingsley.
"He thinks this is his only choice just like last time" Minerva added. They were startled when a goblin knocked on the door, telling her that there was an owl for her. Recognizing Hermione's handwriting, she read the letter. Conjuring a parchment herself she penned a response. "Please find her again" she whispered to it and sent it on its way. "Hermione got the letter finally, and has agreed to come tomorrow at noon. I asked her to be sure to bring Harry."
"Fantastic. Now we can take the next step" Kingsley said looking at Bill.
"Don't worry. We have been telling Mom that we want to spend more time with Ginny and Ron. Fleur and I will go there now and bring them to Hogwarts" Bill replied.
* * *
Harry made another stop on July 29th. He felt guilty about not seeing Teddy, and apparated to their home.
Andromeda was out on the lawn with Teddy, and was surprised to see him change into Harry again. "You must be missing him. We all are" she told her grandson.
"I am too" she heard a hoarse voice tell her. Turning around, she saw who she thought was Harry Potter.
"Harry is that you?" she asked, picking up her wand.
"Yes Andy it is" he replied, his voice a little clearer. As he got closer she saw how terrible he looked.
"My GOD Harry what has happened to you?" she wondered.
"A lot of bad things. But they don't matter anymore. I wanted to see you and Teddy one last time before I go away."
"One last time? What do you mean Harry? Going away where?"
"Where no one can hurt me anymore" he answered looking sadly at Teddy who was reaching for him. Harry picked him up almost regretting his decision. "I'm sorry Teddy. I hope when you grow older you will understand what I did and why. Your Aunt Ginny, Aunt Hermione, and Uncle Ron will explain it all to you. I have left them a note in my vault. I hope in time you will forgive me for abandoning you" he cried, kissing his Godson's forehead.
"Harry please don't do anything rash!!" Andy pleaded with him.
"Goodbye Teddy" he said, handing a sleeping Teddy back to her. 'I'm glad his last memory of me will be falling asleep with me holding him. It is much better than the one I have had to live with' he thought remembering hearing his mother dying, something he had never told anyone. "Goodbye Andy" he softly said as he left.
* * *
Hermione was pleased to get such a quick response from the Headmistress, but was alarmed about how she stressed how important it was for Harry to be there too. Then she remembered Kreacher's visit. She had only been half awake when he was there. "Master Harry is going away" he said. It did not register at the time, but suddenly she realized what the old Elf meant. "Harry James Potter you better not be planning on ... " she said running for her cloak. She burst out the back door and apparated to the doorstep of #12 Grimmauld Place. Placing her hand on the door she said "Alohamora" to unlock it shouting "HARRY? HARRY!! WHERE ARE YOU?" From room to room she ran searching all three floors. Not finding him, she settled in on the couch to wait.
* * *
Harry saved the most difficult stop for last. He put his invisibility cloak on again and apparated to Godric's Hollow. Carefully avoiding the residents, he walked the flagstone paved streets of what he thought would be the town he and Ginny would live in. Nearby was the Church he and Hermione had seen that Christmas Eve and the Cemetery his parents were buried in. Harry stood over their graves wanting badly to speak with them. He passed the statue of himself and his parents, wishing again that they were with him for real. When he had found the resurrection stone he brought their spirits back, along with his Godfather Sirius Black and their best friend Remus Lupin. This gave him a chance to talk to them, and they expressed how proud they were of all he had done. 'I don't think they would feel the same way now' he thought as he walked into their home. Several weeks ago it had been finished, and now only the final decorating touches were left. "Ginny I want you to have this, whoever you end up with. I know how badly you want to move out so this can be your home" he said leaving a final note for her on the unfinished mantle. He climbed the repaired stairs and peered into the room his mother had died in defending him with her own body. "I'm sorry Mom. We won, but I lost. Lost everything" he bitterly said looking around for a final time. He remembered thinking how one day he wanted this to be his children's nursery too but it was impossible now. Settling himself into the spot where his mother had died he fell asleep.
"Harry? Harry? Is that you?" he heard a voice ask.
"Who's there?" he responded.
"Your Mom and I."
"Dad? Is that you?"
"Yes Son it is. Why are you here?"
"Because I want to see our old house one last time" Harry answered.
"One last time? But Sweetheart, you have all the time in the World" Lily Potter told her son.
"No Mom I don't. I don't think I will be here much longer" he answered.
"Harry dear the choice is yours. It always has been. Remember what Dumbledore told you? To do the easy thing and pass on, or to do the difficult one and return? Now is the time for you to make that choice again" his mother answered.
"But Mom no one loves me anymore! No one cares about me at all!!" he sobbed.
"Yes they do Harry. All those people who loved you before still do, it is just that you have forgotten it trying to block out all the pain" his father said. "Son, believe me I know how easy that is. But you must ask yourself if 'running away' is the answer?"
"No" Harry said after some reflection. "It isn't. But don't you understand? I am completely, utterly alone!"
"Just look around you" his father replied. Harry saw the images of many people. As they stepped closer he could see their faces. Neville Longbottom. Hannah Abbott. Seamus Finnigan. Luna Lovegood. All the members of the DA were there. Behind them he saw the professors of Hogwarts, Hagrid towering over all.
His schoolmates separated, and up came his surrogate Family the Weasleys. Leading the way was Ginny, Hermione, and Ron. They and everyone else were smiling. He could not sense any hatred for anything he had done or failed to do. He turned back to his parents, who were looking down smiling at him too.
"Harry we were never prouder of you for what you did in the forest. They are too. Now you need to decide if you want to return to them" his father told him.
Looking around at all the smiling faces, Harry made his decision. "I want - no I need to go back" he said to them.
"Then it is time to wake up my son" she gently said, brushing the hair out of his eyes.
Harry felt what he thought was his mother's hand on his forehead. He went to brush it away, only to come in contact with a hand. A real hand. He awoke to find himself on the floor with his head in Hermione's lap.
"Whaaat?" he tried to ask his throat all raspy.
"Here Harry drink this" she said, propping him up so he could drink a glass of water she conjured. "Aguamente" she repeated filling the glass again.
"How did you find me?" he managed to whisper.
"Because you're my brother" she replied. "And I love you Harry Potter, just as if you really were my brother" she added causing both of them to cry. "Harry I'm sorry I ..."
"No Hermione I'm sorry. I should have been more sensitive for my sister" he replied trying to joke.
"Anything for family. Speaking of that the Headmistress has been trying to find us. I think she may have information on my parents. I mean our parents. She wants us to come to Hogwarts tomorrow at noon."
"Are you sure Hermione? This isn't a joke of some kind?"
"No Harry I'm sure. Now let's go get you cleaned up. And maybe a hair cut too. This is dreadful" she said running her hands through his hair which now hung to his shoulders.
"Someone told me once she liked it this way" he quietly said.
"Well, getting us both cleaned up will be a start. After tomorrow we may all be thinking differently" she answered not realizing how prophetic that was.
* * *
Finished with their meeting with Kingsley and Minerva, Bill and Fleur took the floo to his parents home. He found his mother busy knitting away making their Christmas jumpers. "Hello children. It's never too early to start" she replied to their looks.
"Are Ron and Ginny home Mom?" Bill asked.
"I'm afraid so. Stuck in their rooms as usual. Why?" she suspiciously asked.
"Because I want to see them" he replied trying hard not to scream at her. 'My own Mother, wanting to know why I want to talk to my brother and sister. Can't she let up at all?' He walked to the stairs yelling "GINNY? RON? Can you come down here please?"
Fleur and Bill waited patiently avoiding looking at Molly. Fleur wanted to scream too especially after seeing Harry. She wanted to rub Molly's face in it, showing her what she caused. Hearing footsteps she saw two people in almost as bad a shape as Harry. 'I bet Hermione might be worse' she thought.
"Do you two have any plans?" Bill asked. They both shrugged their shoulders, sitting on the edge of chairs. Like they wanted to leave. Or run away. "How about this. Fleur and I are going to take you shopping. Early Birthday presents. You can pick out what you want."
Again they just sat there, neither one caring about celebrating a Birthday if the one they wanted most to be there wouldn't.
"GINEVRA! RONALD! Don't just sit there. Go with your brother and sister in law" Molly instructed.
"Good" said Fleur finally glad for Molly's domination over her kids. "' e'll be late."
"Not to worry dears. I'll tell your father when he gets home" she replied kissing each on the cheek before they stepped into the floo.
Ginny and Ron found themselves not at Shell Cottage, but in the Headmistresses' Office at Hogwarts. "Please sit down" she told them.
"Why are we here?" Ginny demanded thinking she was being manipulated again. These last weeks had really driven home how much she hated how her mother treated them, especially herself.
"Don't worry. It's just that we all need to talk in private" Kingsley said, walking up behind them. Ron turned to see Percy, Charlie, and George were there too.
"How are all of you feeling?" asked another voice. It was Madam Pomprey, the main healer at Hogwarts. It was a rhetorical question, since they each had a sickly yellow hue to them.
"Peachy" Ginny bitterly answered.
"Really? I think not" she replied handing each of them several vials. "Drink these please. We have a lot to discuss tonight, and you will need your strength."
Reluctantly Ginny and Ron complied. Within minutes each felt better. "Now can you please tell us why we are here?" he politely asked.
"Absolutely. But before we start I am asking you to promise me not to repeat anything we are going to discuss" Percy asked.
"No problem" Ginny responded, wanting to get this over with as soon as possible. She wanted to get back to her dream about Harry. He was standing in the sunshine, and her Father was walking her down the aisle ...
"And your wands too please?" Minerva held her hand out. Puzzled they placed them in her outstretched hand. "Excellent. You will thank me later. The reason why I asked you here is ... " For the next three hours they each took turns, going over the events since the Battle there. Ron and Ginny added things to the conversation too, noting how many times everyone nodded their heads, like something they had guessed about was true.
A break was taken when the Elves served dinner, and each sat with their own thoughts. 'What exactly was said to Hermione and Harry? And what was their response?' was on many minds.
"Minister?" Ron began to ask, swallowing another bite of treacle tart. "Are you trying to tell us that my Mom made them leave somehow? How is that possible?"
"We won't know until we can talk to them. I hope they will both be here tomorrow. Kingsley and I want to hear their side of it. If what we believe is true, then we can fix this" Minerva replied.
"Tomorrow is Harry's Birthday. Can we be here too?" Ginny pleaded, first with her then Kingsley.
"Please let us talk to them first. If they say what we think they will, I promise you will" she smiled.
"Thank you" Ginny said hugging every one of them. "But I don't have anything to give Harry!"
"Ginny seeing you will be the best gift he ever got. Hermione too" George said, looking at Ron who was trying hard not to fall apart. He felt the despair lifting, part of him hoping that what his family had told him was true about their mother, the other part hoping they were wrong. Very, very wrong.
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