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Chapter 12 : Talio
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"Minister could you please ask the Longbottom's to join us?" Hermione inquired after each had taken a seat in his Office. He went to his personal floo and poked his head in with a little floo powder. A few minutes later Augusta, Neville, and Hannah stepped out. Each were overjoyed that the reunion took place.
"Tomorrow we can give you the details. Could you please call a DA meeting at your home then? We want everyone to know that we are OK and back together" Harry told them.
"Absolutely. Maybe 10am? We can also tell them officially that Hannah and I are engaged now" he announced, holding Hannah's hand up for all to see.
"This was my engagement ring" Augusta said.
"It's beautiful" Arthur replied getting an idea.
"Here is what the four of us discussed yesterday. We don't want your Mother Bill to know anything yet" Ron said watching his Father flinch.
"But we are going to hit her with it. Hard. She still wants us to have 'our' Birthday Party. We had been resisting it but we will cave in. That will give us the opportunity to bring out Hermione and Harry in front of everyone" Ginny told them.
"We want the whole DA to be there. All the Family. No way she can take people to the side for one of her 'stories' " Harry added.
"And we want you to 'set the stage' before that. Just some polite conversation with her" smiled Hermione. "We will turn the tables on her getting her to admit how bad it was the break up occurred, then we will make our entrance."
"She will have no choice but to accept you then! That's brilliant" Percy stated.
"What do you need us to do?" Minerva wondered.
"Firstly we will be seeing each other every day at different places so she does not get suspicious. It will seem to her like we have resigned ourselves to what happened and are moving on" Ron said.
"There are some things I need their help with, but most importantly we need to make up for the time we lost" Harry added.
"The DA will help too. They will be watching for Charlie's Mother. Any time she is seen we will watch her to make sure she is not causing any other mischief" Ginny harshly stated.
"Children do you really need to talk about your Mother that way?" Arthur asked.
"Dad, after what she did she will be lucky if we talk to her at all" Ron said as he stood and began to pace.
"She is proud of what she did. You have been working so hard over the years that you haven't seen it. So much has gone on that you are not aware of" Bill replied, his head down. One day he would tell his Father about his Mother's little 'conversations' she would have with him, usually just loud enough for Fleur to hear.
Arthur could tell there was much more he did not know. He could see it in the faces of Bill and Fleur, and especially Charlie who looked like he wanted to explode.
"Today Daddy the four of us are going to Godric's Hollow" Ginny said, not asking but telling her father. "Neville? Hannah? Would you like to come too?"
"Actually we have some wedding arrangements to make. You know, dresses. Stuff like that. We want all four of you to be in our wedding, but that isn't until next summer so we have plenty of time" Neville stated.
Hannah rolled her eyes. "Neville Frank Longbottom, don't you mean we only have a year to prepare?"
"What?? Oh yes dear I'm sorry. But we do want to see your house Harry. Maybe later this week?"
"Absolutely. Another reason to escape our prison" Ron stated.
"And I will be out on parole soon. In ... "
"10 days sweetheart" Harry said kissing Ginny. "Then you can tell her how you really feel. We all can, and she can't do anything about it."
"You aren't going to be mean to her are you?" Arthur wondered afraid of what his kids may have planned.
"No. Not intentionally. But she will learn that she cannot control us any longer. We are going to live our lives, without having her breathing down our necks" Ginny grimly told her Father and everyone else there.
* * *
With a wave goodbye the quartet flooed into the house in Godric's Hollow. Getting there ahead of Harry Ginny got a chance to look around first. She spotted the letter for her, and Ron was reading it when Harry came in, having been detained by her Father. He had asked for a moment to talk to him and Hermione, wanting to apologize again for what happened.
"I don't think you had anything to do with this" Harry replied.
"We could see at the Ministry how badly you felt. That is why we wanted you to be here now, and a part of our lives in the future" Hermione added.
"And their Mother?" Arthur wondered.
"That is something we need to discuss. She was very nice to us for a long time, allowing us to live at the Burrow. It is unfortunate she chose to blame us for all the bad things that happened" replied Hermione.
"I have done enough blaming myself for all of us. To be honest with you, I don't think there is a place in our lives for her or anyone else like that. No, like my sister said we need to talk about it. We will tell you by Ginny's Birthday our decision." Harry said goodbye to everyone else, adding to please have Andromeda and Teddy be there tomorrow.
Ron had just finished reading the letter Harry had written when Hermione and then Harry exited the floo. There was a flash of red and he felt Ginny's bone crushing hug as he did almost knocking him over. "What was that for?" he asked out of breath.
"Because Harry James Potter I love you. Nothing would make me happier than to live here with you" she replied talking into his now very wet shirt.
"That goes for Hermione and I too" Ron added. Harry saw Hermione reading the letter too, so he knew what they were referring to.
"Harry in here it says whoever Ginny wants" Hermione told him. "And she chooses us my dear brother."
"Then it is settled. Now we have a lot of work to do" Ginny added pulling Hermione aside. "We need to start with the kitchen. I am a Weasley you know" she laughed, taking Hermione in there to help determine where to start.
"We need a table. A really big one for when the Family is over" Ron and Harry heard Ginny say as the kitchen door closed.
"Harry now that it's just us I want to apologize for what happened. I swear I want to strangle my mother for this" he said.
"Don't you mean Percy's Mother?" he heard Hermione say as they came out and headed upstairs.
"And I want to help" Ginny added as she kissed Harry again before following Hermione up to their bedrooms.
"Ron we don't blame you or your brothers or Fleur for this. It's just that she has gotten really good at it. But now she was caught, and we will make sure she knows we found out. Kreacher?" Harry asked.
With a 'pop' Kreacher apparated there. "Yes Master Harry?"
"Kreacher I want to thank you too. I know that you were bound by rules which prevented you from helping us" Harry said as Hermione and Ginny came back in. "We would not be standing here without you. It had to be a difficult decision to make. Now I will give you another. Do you want to give us back the scarf?"
It took a few moments for Kreacher to realize what Harry was doing. To most Elves being freed meant that they were not wanted. They were being discarded like trash. Harry wanted him to know that he was, but it would be on his terms. "Master Harry, Kreacher will keep the scarf. It will be a symbol to my people that even though you are now free, you are still loved and needed."
"Harry Potter that is the kindest thing you have ever done' Hermione told him as she hugged him. Nothing (well except for Ron) was as important to her than the rights of the Elves and the other races, who were always looked down on by most Witches and Wizards.
"Kreacher we have one more room upstairs. We would be very happy if you would like to live with us" Ginny said getting down on her knees to talk.
"Please" Ron added, joining his sister, Hermione, and Harry.
Kreacher looked at the four of them and smiled. "Kreacher would be honored to live here."
"Excellent" Harry replied. "And now we have a lot of work to do, and as Hannah said only a short time to do it. Let's make a list starting with .. "
"Kreacher's room" Ron butted in with earning him another hug from both Hermione and Ginny.
* * *
Applause filled Ron's and Ginny's ears as they entered Longbottom Mansion. The invites said that things were resolved with the details to follow. Blushing furiously, Hermione and Harry took their mate's hands and sat down with them. Taking a sleeping Teddy from Andy he began to tell a condensed version of the story. Much of the despair he and the rest felt he left out, but it was not necessary. Each of them knew what that was like, after the harrowing time spent at the Castle the previous school year.
"Harry we know you aren't telling us everything and that is OK" Ernie McMillan told him.
"Nothing else matters now" Lavender Brown added.
"Thank you. We are allowing the annual Birthday Party to happen and the biggest surprise will be Harry and Hermione 'popping out of the cake'. We want all of you to be there too. In between time, please keep watch for Mrs. Weasley. I don't think she has anything else planned but you never know" Ginny told them.
"I believe she does" interrupted Augusta Longbottom. "An owl came yesterday with our invitation. Molly specifically mentioned me, thanking me for everything my grandson did for her daughter last year. She wants to come to tea sometime before then so we can catch up. Just how stupid does she think I am" Neville's Gran bitterly said. "I never told you this Neville, but before your parents got engaged she tried to ... "
"It's OK Gran we know" Hannah said stopping her. "And it will be over my dead body that she will come between your grandson and I."
"But we will play along. This morning when we told her we wanted to visit I mentioned how pretty you are Hannah" Ron said as he blushed. "You should have seen her face light up, like it was Christmas!"
"So it gives us an excuse to come here, or use it as a place to come to first if that's OK?" Ginny wondered.
"If it is OK with my fiance then it is OK with me" Neville replied kissing Hannah. "But for now please keep this quiet until the Party. Maybe it can be part of her birthday gift."
"Neville that gives me an idea" Hermione responded, detailing another part of the elaborate plan. The DA listened closely, smiling during everything. In the end it was settled. They would work in shifts, monitoring Diagon Alley for any signs of 'MM' as she was to be called. 'Operation Talio' was about to start.
Andy listened intently to the discussion, noting that as mad as he four of them were they did not want to really hurt her, despite all that had happened. She was very proud of them for that, and told them so before leaving with Teddy.
* * *
The days spent in between Harry's and Ginny's Birthdays went fast. Clandestine meetings took place every day. One stop was Weasley's Wizard Wheezes to supposedly help George. They did for about 5 minutes then flooed to Grimmauld Place to help pack for their new home. Or to meet with companies which sold furniture for Wizard's houses. Another was to see Teddy after Andromeda Tonks came by. Molly was maneuvered into letting them go after Andy saying how good Ginny was with Teddy. Ron went along to keep her company and the foursome got to spend the day with Teddy while Andy got some errands done. Luna Lovegood's house was another stop, which Molly had no desire to go to and they knew it. So she could not say later that she was excluded intentionally.
One trip to the Longbottom's was especially funny. There was a little bit of polyjuice potion left, so Harry turned himself into Neville and Hermione became Hannah. They pretended to fight (for Molly's benefit) and Ron and Ginny spent time consoling them before returning with their Mother. She was bouncing off the walls at the Burrow that night. She could not wait the 3 days left until the Birthday Party. She hardly noticed Ginny and Ron disappearing in the floo having 'Birthday Party business' to attend to. All six of them (8 counting Augusta and Minerva) got a good laugh about it.
And the Ministry, so they had more 'interviews'. On two occasions they actually did. Ron and Harry met with Kingsley to discuss more about becoming Aurors, which they would sign the official paperwork for at the Birthday Party. Hermione met with Alastair MacLaine, the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. He was so impressed with her (she had prepared a 20 page paper of what was wrong and why) that he hired her on the spot even though she was returning to Hogwarts. She would be a consultant until then, and his assistant upon graduation. Ron was never prouder. Ginny met with Ludo Bagman, the Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. She had no interest in becoming an Auror, but Quidditch (and Harry) she was passionate about.
Before leaving the Ministry the last time, Ron and Harry went to meet with Ron's Father. Arthur was ready guessing what they wanted to discuss.
"Mr. Weasley I want to talk to you. It's about Ginny. Sir I love her. I have for quite some time. She loves me too, and I want your permission to ask her to marry me" Harry told him.
"Harry. Son. Nothing would make me happier than to call you my son for real. I'm sorry again for the trouble Molly caused, and I can promise you that it will not happen again. I will not tolerate it" he replied, looking directly into Harry's eyes. "You have my blessing, and I'm sure in time Molly will feel the same."
"Thank you Sir. That means a lot to me. I will be giving her my Mother's ring. Their wedding rings were in my vault. I guess Hagrid or Professor Dumbledore must have done it" Harry answered.
"Actually I was the one" Arthur told him. "I was not yet a member of the Order officially. Hagrid and I were out on patrol, and we got a patronus from Professor Dumbledore to go to your parents while he went to the Longbottom's. We arrived just after the explosion and saw Sirius take off after Peter Pettigrew. Hagrid picked you up, and I took charge of your parents bodies. I brought them to Grimmauld Place and waited for Sirius. We learned later how he was arrested. Hagrid was instructed to take you to your Aunt's."
"I'm sorry you had to help that way Sir" Harry said as he leaned heavily on Arthur's desk.
"Harry, your parents were the bravest people I ever knew. They, along with Alice and Frank Longbottom, knew that Voldemort was after them. But they did not run and hide. The four of you remind me so much of them ... " Arthur said as he sat down heavily too shook up to continue.
"Dad that is something I wanted to talk to you about too. Everybody but me knew I loved Hermione. I was such an idiot for not realizing it sooner. I want to propose to her too, but her parents are not back yet. What should I do?" Ron wondered.
"I remember meeting Hermione's parents in Fluorish and Blotts. You did too. They seem to be nice level headed people, much like she is. While I cannot say for certain, I think since she has lived under my roof that I can speak for them when I say they will be very, very happy to call you their son too" Arthur replied to his youngest.
"Thanks Dad" he said, giving his Father a hug.
"Earlier in the summer I was prepared for this conversation. And I was ready to say exactly what I did today. It's unfortunate it was delayed, but what matters most, especially to the girls, is that it is going to happen. When are you thinking?" he asked.
"The Birthday Party" Harry told him smiling. "Ron and I want to do it right after we are 'reunited'. She won't know what hit her."
"No she won't. But what about a ring for Hermione Ron? Have you bought one yet?"
"No Dad I haven't had the chance. Either Mom, Hermione, or Ginny have been with me the whole time. Can we go now?" Ron wondered looking at Harry, hoping that he was serious about the money being his too.
"Buy her whatever you want mate. For my Sister money is no object" Harry stated.
"Before you do I want to show you something" Arthur said pulling a ring out of his pocket. "This was my grandmother's. It has been in the Weasley Family for generations. I have saved it for you Ronald, because I knew one day you would find someone more precious than gold, someone who loves you for who you are."
Ron was flabbergasted when he looked at the ring. It had a square cut diamond set in what he guessed was white gold. Smaller diamonds surrounded it. He vaguely remembered his grandmother, but for his father to have saved her engagement ring especially for him ... "Dad I will be very happy to give this to Hermione. When I tell her why she will be too."
That evening they took Arthur to Godric's Hollow to show him their new home, which they would be moving into immediately after the Party. All four emphasized there being four bedrooms. Repeatedly, until he finally stopped them. "Children I am not your Mother. I trust all of you to be here and watch out for each other." 'And I hope in time your Mother feels the same way'.
The day before the Party or August 10th was a hectic one. Many of their belongings were taken to Godric's Hollow with Harry promising future shopping trips together to finish things there, plus to replace at Grimmauld Place what was brought. They all knew that none of their clothes fit with all the weight they lost, plus Harry and Ron had growth spurts that summer. All the furniture was delivered too, and the house had now become a home. Along with Hannah and Neville they had a quiet dinner there, before the storm was to hit.
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