Chapter 11 : The Plan
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Hermione took Harry back to #12 Grimmauld Place, after a small bite near her home in London. With her help they did a quick cleanup of Harry's house. Both spent the night there and took the floo (which Harry turned back on) directly into the Headmistress' Office at Hogwarts.
"Harry! Hermione! How wonderful it is to see you again" Minerva told them, giving each a hug. Like Augusta, she was shocked to see how thin each had become. 'They feel like walking skeletons.'
"Thank you" Harry replied, relieved that at least part of his 'dream' might be true.
"I am also glad to see you both" the deep voice of Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt added. He too was disturbed to see the same sickly color as Ginny and Ron which as an Auror he knew to mean their bodies were beginning to shut down, just like he was sure their hearts had. 'I hope they are still thinking straight and can answer our questions'.
"Thank you Minister. Do you have any news about our parents?" Hermione asked.
"Yes I do. Please have a seat" he replied motioning to the table set for four. He waved his wand, and four cups of tea were magically poured. "Our parents?"
"Hermione and I realized that we are all we have now" Harry sadly answered, looking down into his cup. "She is like the Sister I never had."
"I love Harry too, just like I would my younger Brother" she added.
Behind them you could hear a sigh of relief. Ginny and Ron were disillusioned by Kingsley, and Minerva cast a silencing charm on them so they might see and hear everything. That morning after eating the first hearty breakfast in who knew how long they had gone into Harry's vault at Gringotts. Andromeda Tonks had come to Shell Cottage fearing for Harry's safety. He had mentioned he left notes for them there. Ron and Ginny were heartbroken to read them hearing the despair in him. They brought the one for Hermione hoping they would both show up today.
"That's great. We are all glad to hear that" Minerva responded for the four of them. "But what I want the both of you to understand is that you are not and never were alone. Many, many people love you. More than you know."
"We do too" Ginny heard Ron whisper.
"Hermione we have had the Aurors searching all over Australia for your parents. We have found some people but are unsure if they are the right ones. What names did you give them again?" he asked pulling a sheet of paper from his pocket.
"Monica and Wendell Wilkins" she answered her hand clutching Harry's tightly.
Kingsley looked down the list of names he had. "And how were you feeling the day you did this?"
"OK I guess. No wait a minute I had a cold. We all did. Why?" she wondered.
"Because I think we did find them. Their names are Monica and Wendell W-e-e-l-k-e-n-s" he answered spelling the last name. "Here is their picture."
Hermione's hands were shaking as she took the photograph. There with sun tans were her parents smiling back at her. "We had an Auror take their picture on the pretext it was for travel brochures to be sent around the World showing how much fun it is to vacation there. They were happy to oblige."
"Thank you Kingsley" she whispered kissing the photograph.
"Yes thank you" Harry added, sadly hoping Kingsley could do something for him too.
"They are safe and happy in the town of Perth. Their practice is thriving so they are not wanting anything. We can start planning on them being returned if you like" Minerva told them.
"Thank you" Hermione whispered again not taking her eyes off the picture. Her deepest fear was that something had happened to them and she would never see them again. And that they would never know about her ...
"And now on to other matters. Minerva and I were very sad to hear about the break ups" Kingsley stated.
"Not as sorry as we were" Hermione replied, looking up from the photo that she had pressed tightly against her chest. "Harry and I spent weeks trying to understand it."
"And we never could. It does not make any sense. I told Ginny how much I loved her. Even after what she experienced because of me" Harry said slowly stirring his cup of tea. "It was the day we went swimming at the Burrow. She showed me what Pansy Parkinson did. I felt very bad about it, promising myself that it might take me the rest of my life but I would make it up to her somehow."
"You will be pleased to know we arrested her yesterday. Along with Gregory Goyle and Millicent Bullstrode. They were hiding in the cellar at Malfoy Manor. She will spend the rest of her life in Azkaban Prison" Kingsley stated.
"Prison is too good for her" Hermione harshly replied, wishing the dementors were still there. "And look at what this War has done to all of us! I could have lost my parents! Harry did lose his! And the only one who ever loved me. The one I was meant to be with the rest of my life wants someone else!"
Ron's body stiffened. At last they would find out what really happened. He grabbed his sister's hand and held on tight.
"Like Harry said we spent the day in the pond near the Burrow. I saw the scar on Ginny when she took her shirt off and knew what she was thinking. My 'brother' would automatically blame himself! But I was never prouder of you Harry" she leaned over to hug him " for how you reacted. Yes you blamed yourself. But you made it very clear that it did not matter, that you loved her scars and all."
"Which is true. She told me the same after I talked about the forest" he added. "We woke up in the parlor and Mrs. Weasley was starting dinner. Hermione and I asked her if she wanted some help and she said yes. 'Get the other two up first, and we could change afterwards.' We sent them upstairs and began to help her."
"Mrs. Weasley asked us to sit and talk. She told us how Ginny and Ron were talking about their friends from school, especially Michael and Lavender" Hermione stated.
"NO WE DIDN'T" Ginny screamed.
"And how all of us have changed since the War. She gave us the impression that maybe they wanted them instead of us so we decided to leave " Hermione added.
"NO WE DON'T" Ron yelled hugging his sister.
"We ran into the storm and apparated to my parents home. We spent several days there. We tried to contact you Minister, and the rest I think you know" she ended with.
Kingsley pulled the book out he found the note in and tossed it on the table. "Percy had to sack her. She couldn't even guard the loo properly."
Ginny saw the book 'Lusting after Harry Potter' showing the women on the cover with him. "Looks like Harry has been working out" Ron commented, seeing his chiseled abs. Ginny's response was to elbow him in the ribs. "OUCH" he said.
"They're ours. No one else's" was her reply. Ron just nodded the wind knocked out of him.
"Then there has been a misunderstanding" Minerva said, waving her wand to push the little plates of cookies closer to Harry and Hermione. That was the signal. Ginny walked up to Harry from behind and leaned over, letting her long hair brush against him. Ron also came up from behind, resting his hands on the back of her chair.
Hermione felt like someone was leaning on her chair, and she thought she smelled the musky cologne that she at first hated but then began to love that he used. 'Wishful thinking' she thought to herself.
Harry too thought he smelled something. It was the shampoo that Ginny used which smelled like apple blossoms in the Spring. Probably his favorite smell when he stayed at the Burrow. 'I must be dreaming again' he said to himself as he felt something on his shoulder. It felt like hair but no one was there.
Hermione also felt someone move her hair to the side and kiss her neck where her scar was. "I love you Hermione Jean Granger" Ron whispered.
Ginny leaned over too, sliding her hands inside of Harry's shirt over his chest. "I love you too Harry James Potter. Scars and all" she whispered in his ear.
Hermione and Harry looked at each other. The charms had been broken when Ron and Ginny touched them, so they could see that this was indeed real. "Are we dreaming?" Harry asked.
Ginny pulled him to his feet and kissed him as tenderly as she could. Ron was doing the same with Hermione. They looked around to see Minerva and Kingsley had left and the Elves had placed a lunch befitting a King and Queen. After Ginny hugged Hermione, and Ron doing the same with Harry, all four began to talk at once. Laughing they sat and slowed down to talk as they ate. For the rest of the day they did this, filling each other in on their lives since the 'incident' as Hermione called it.
It was almost six when Minerva returned. "So how are we?" she asked smiling as broadly as she could. In her hands were more of the vials given to Ginny and Ron yesterday, which she levitated in front of Hermione and Harry.
"Fantastic now" Harry replied for them. They each gave her a hug to thank her for getting to the truth. Hermione and Harry dutifully drank the potions that they knew were from Madam Pomprey.
"Now we need to bring Arthur in. He does not know anything about this. We have kept him in the dark until we had all the facts. Kingsley arranged for him to work late so we can all talk. They will be arriving shortly along with your brothers."
"My mother too?" Ron fearfully asked.
"Absolutely not. Not in My Castle" Minerva replied.
Ginny waved her wand and two of the chairs transformed into love seats. Both couples settled in for what they knew would be a long night.
* * *
It was close to midnight when Kingsley stood. "Today we learned a great many things. Now we need to decide how to proceed. Arthur, the decision is yours." Kingsley exited through the floo, leaving only the Weasleys along with Harry and Hermione.
"Children I need to think on this. Could we please meet in my Office tomorrow morning. 9am?" he said watching them agree. "And now Ron. Ginny. I'm afraid we need to go home."
"It's OK. You can contact us now. If your mother decides she wants to 'talk' send for us" Harry told Ginny as he kissed her goodbye.
"Believe me we would like nothing better than to confront her, but we need a plan first. I will be at Harry's tonight" Hermione said to Ron.
"I love you" Ron replied.
"Me too" Ginny added.
* * *
Harry and Hermione arrived early at the Ministry hoping to talk with Kingsley about Hermione's parents first. They were surprised to hear Molly's voice coming from his Office. Harry hastily pulled out his invisibility cloak and flung it over both of them as the door opened.
"Don't you talk like that to me Kingsley Shacklebolt! I'm their Mother and if they are coming here to talk to Ministry officials then I am too!!" she ranted.
"And are you looking for a job here?" he asked.
"Well no ... "
"Then you can't. Ministry rules state that when someone is looking for a job no one can be with them" he responded.
"But Arthur you need to tell him ... "
"No Molly. Those are the rules here. No one can accompany them during these interviews" he reinforced.
"MEN" she huffed storming out of the Office almost running Hermione over.
"Thought about accidentally tripping her didn't you?" Harry asked as he pulled the cloak off them.
"I think we really are related" she laughed as she reached for Ron, who was waiting patiently as he could for his mother to finish complaining and leave.
"Good Morning" said Ginny as he hugged Harry. "This was Dad's idea. Get us away from Mom."
"It actually is the rule here. Just talk to a department head and we are good" Arthur told them.
"How are you today Minister?" Harry asked.
"A little tired. You see I had a late Meeting last night regarding Hogwarts" he replied. "So now that we have had our 'Meeting' we can start. Arthur, I believe you wished time to think."
"Yes I did" he answered as the rest of his children and the Headmistress came in. "You may not believe me but Molly is the most loving, caring person I have ever known ... " he began.
"If she loved us or cared so much, why did she send them out in that storm?" Ginny fumed. "The big tree was hit by lightning!! It could have been them!!!"
"I know. All I can do is apologize for this. When I first heard about it, I did think about her. And things I remember happening at school. I was blinded by love at the time and I still am. But I have had to step back away from my feelings for her. What she did was terribly wrong. The saddest part to me was watching you two 'he gestured to Ginny and Ron' wasting away before her very eyes. Yes she tried to make you eat, and go out and begin living again. She should have seen it was not working and found a way to reunite you. Instead she became blinded by her decision which in her mind was correct. How she came to that conclusion we may never know" Arthur sadly answered.
"Actually we might" stated Minerva. "Kreacher? There was a 'pop' and the old Elf appeared.
"Yes Headmistress?" he wondered.
"Kreacher thank you for coming. And for doing what you did" Ginny told him.
"You are welcome Ginevra" he replied causing Harry's eyebrows to shoot up his forehead. 'Ginevra? Not Mistress Ginny?'
"Two nights ago we came to Hogwarts with Bill and Fleur. We had a long talk with everyone trying to figure out a way to find you and Hermione after we learned what we guessed happened" Ron stated.
"The Headmistress summoned Kreacher who told us how you sent him away, first to help Hermione and then to return to Hogwarts. But we could tell he wanted to say more but couldn't" Ginny added. "So I got an idea. Mom had made me wear that scarf" she said pointing at the ragged scarf around Kreacher's neck. "I handed it to him, saying he looked cold. He took it from me and our miracle happened."
Ginny and Ron were holding tightly to Harry and Hermione during this. "As soon as Kreacher touched it things changed. It looked like blue static covered him" Minerva told them.
"This is Harry's scarf. We took it on our journey" Ron stated. "We gave it to each other many times to wear, and it was in Hermione's beaded bag when we got back. Hermione gave it to Ginny to wear one evening when we were sitting outside."
"Harry also gave it to me while we were at Hogwarts. Actually we gave it to each other many times, sometimes sharing it if it was really windy" Ginny happily said.
"When Kreacher accepted this" he said in his low, bullfrog like voice. "It was like he had accepted a piece of clothing from each of you. Because it was not directly from Master Harry, Kreacher felt like he was free but he was not. He needed to choose what was right. Kreacher knew all four of you were in trouble but he was prevented from telling anyone. At least before this" he stated holding up the end of the scarf. "Kreacher knew he needed to act now to save you. So he told the Headmistress everything Master Harry said including the final thing."
"What was that ?" asked Hermione.
"That he would say hello to Master Regulus for him" Kreacher whispered.
Harry was both startled and ashamed. "I did not want to live without you Ginny. I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. But my parents came to me reminding me that even though I thought I was alone I really wasn't. I saw the DA, the Professors, and all of you. I realized no one was mad at me and wanted me to be around. So I chose to come back. To turn away from despair and to live."
"I had gone to Grimmauld Place to look for Harry. Kreacher had told me things were bad but he could not say more. I fell asleep, and had a dream Harry was in trouble in his parent's home. I went straight there and found him. We went back to his house, and came here the next day" Hermione added.
"Hermione who did you dream about?" asked Ginny.
"It was Tonks. She told me that Harry was very sick and he needed all of us, but only I could go to him" Hermione answered.
"Yesterday Kreacher went to the Weasley's home. He disillusioned himself and searched the Burrow. While he was there Mrs. Weasley was moving things around talking to herself. His voice changed into Molly's, which was something no one knew an Elf had the power to do. "Now that I have taken care of those two budding romances I need to find someone more suitable for my Ronald and Ginevra. Maybe Neville Longbottom? Yes he has a girlfriend in Hannah Abbott, but I want him for my Ginny. I'll get Ronald to fall for Hannah, and the job will be complete. Just a few 'stories' like I did to Hermione and Harry and it will be easy. To think after all the bad things those two caused they could marry one of my children! Not bloody likely!!!" she laughed. Kreacher followed her and saw her hide something in the pantry inside of another box." He snapped his fingers, and the two miniature trunks appeared. They enlarged to become Harry's and Hermione's.
"Mom told us Harry had sent for them" Charlie angrily said.
"I didn't think about it. If I couldn't have you Ginny I didn't care about this" he sadly stated gesturing at the trunk and its contents.
"Harry you must remember you did not create Voldemort. Over 50 years ago this began" Minerva firmly told him.
"Sweetheart, if I felt like you really were responsible for all this would I want to be with you?" Ginny asked him. She tilted his face up, so she could see his bright emerald green eyes. "Harry James Potter I love you. We all do. You want to blame yourself every time a bad thing happens but it is out of our control. The important things are that you did defeat Riddle, and I love you. Nothing else matters now."
"Thank you Ginny" he whispered as he leaned his forehead against hers grateful that no one else agreed with Molly Weasley's twisted logic.
"And you" Ron said, holding Hermione closer. "Always have been, and always will be the only one for me."
"I love you too Ron" she answered, holding him tightly also. "But now it is time to plan. We need to begin 'Operation Talio'."
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