Chapter 1 : A Questionable Future
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“What do you plan on doing now, d’you suppose?” she asked him, looking into his eyes softly.
“Well, actually I've been thinking,” he paused for a short moment, thinking carefully how to finish the sentence, “you know how I said I wasn’t going to bother going back to Hogwarts to finish my seventh year?” He looked at her closely, and she nodded.
“Well, I've changed my mind. I think, to be a proper Auror, I should get that last year of training.” He said, looking at her as she mulled this over in her head. He’d been thinking about this for weeks, having an internal yes against no war inside of him. He’d been weighing the pros and cons, and the fact that he knew Hermione would be returning as well as Ginny. He wasn’t sure… well he was now, but he’d been unsure for weeks. Finally deciding that it may be a good idea to return, and knowing Ron would probably agree… just to be with Hermione. Harry smiled at the idea of it. Ron would want to stick with Hermione, and he knew even Ron had been sitting on the fence recently too. The fact that Harry would want to return would probably clinch it for him… at least that’s what Harry figured, anyway.
“I think that’s a brilliant idea, Harry. It’ll be great to complete our seventh year together.” She said, hugging him tightly. Harry blushed and hugged back, and then he sighed quietly.
“Yeah, it’ll be excellent, Gin.” He said, slowly grinning. She smiled, and held his arm as Ron approached them.
“If you guys could keep the snogging to a minimum, that would be greatly appreciated.” He said, with a passive expression.
“Oh, shove off, Ronald.” Said Ginny, playfully pushing him, looking at Harry as Ron rolled his eyes and headed inside. A few moments later Harry and Ginny headed inside to see Ron and Hermione sitting next to each other on a sofa quietly, and her and Harry sat across from them.
“You okay, mate?” asked Ron, glancing at Harry. Harry nodded.
“Great.” He answered without looking up. “Er, I just wanted to say, Ron, that you know how we agreed we weren’t going to go back to Hogwarts to finish our seventh year?” asked Harry, looking at Ron as Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.
“Yeah…?” answered Ron, looking at Harry oddly, appearing bemused.
“Well I just thought, in order to be the best Auror I could be… I should go back to finish my seventh year, with Hermione.” Finished Harry. Ron looked at the ground for a moment and then looked back up with a thoughtful expression on his face.
“Well then I'm going with you.” He said, almost sternly, “That’s a brilliant idea, Harry, so I might as well come with you, without You-Know-Who, I think it’s safe enough that the Ministry can wait one more year before we become Aurors.” He said, and grinned. Harry beamed,
“Brilliant, Ron, we can go together.” Ron smiled and turned a little red as Hermione sat in the corner smiling widely and bright pink.
“Oh, it’ll be excellent, just like before!” bubbled Hermione, happily, smiling.
“And I’ll be there too…” said Ginny, staring off into space.
“Oh, that should cheer Harry up, now shouldn’t it?” said Ron, almost grumpily. Both Harry and Ginny turned red as she shot him a slightly angry expression before turning back to Harry and the sun sank lower on the horizon, casting a bright red glow over the home, and the light washed the whole house a beautiful colour. The four of them sat in silence for a few moments, enjoying the silence, then Ron’s stomach rumbled extremely loudly, disrupting the silence and everyone began to laugh as his ears turned red.
“Hungry are you, Ron?” laughed Hermione, causing his whole face to turn as red as his hair.
“Yeah…” he mumbled quietly.
“Mum said dinner would be soon,” said Ginny, smiling with raised eyebrows.
“I bloody well hope so.” Said Ron, quietly, sinking into the sofa in embarrassment as the laughter died down.
“We’re just waiting for Dad to come home, that’s all.” Said Ginny, patting Ron on the shoulder.
“That could be hours.” Complained Ron, with a grumpy expression overcoming his usually cheerful, freckled features as his stomach rumbled even louder this time, as a few giggles emerged from Hermione, which made Ron go even redder if at all possible and he shut his eyes.
For a little while, they talked about the classes they would take, intertwined with some chat of the weather and every few minutes Ron’s stomach would rumble, provoking a few laughs from everyone else, as he would go red, looking grumpier and sink into the sofa.
Eventually, Arthur Weasley did stroll in the door, which made Ron’s face flush with relief as everyone else turned to look at Mr. Weasley.
“Evening everyone!” he said, cheerfully looking around, and Harry noticed Arthur’s dial on the Weasleys’ clock move from ‘Work’ to ‘Home’.
“Nice to see you, Harry, Hermione!” he said, winking at them as they smiled back. “Where’s George, Molly?” he asked, turning around kissing his wife who stood in the kitchen.
“De-gnoming the garden, dear.” She replied, smiling and kissing him back.
“Ah. How are you Ginny? Ron?” he asked, smiling.
“Fine, Dad, just talking with Harry, Ron and Hermione.” She said, happily.
“Starving, Dad, I’m starving.” Groaned Ron, looking a bit more cheerful now.
“Well that’s a first.” He said with a quick grin. “Let’s have a spot of dinner then, shall we? George! Dinner!” he called. George came in moments later, sweating a little from throwing all the gnomes, and sported a single bite mark on his forefinger, but smiled nonetheless.
“Hey, Dad, nice to see you back from work. What’s for dinner, Mum?” asked George, sitting down at the dining table.
“Mashed potatoes, roast chicken and treacle tarts for dessert, dear.” She answered, and with a flick of her wand, the food landed on the table which was surrounded by many chairs and had recently been set.
Everyone sat down at the table and Mrs. Weasley began cutting up the chicken and serving it.
“Here you go, Arthur…George…Ginny…Hermione…-” she was interrupted by a loud rumble from Ron’s stomach, “an extra-large piece for Ron… and some for you, Harry, dear.” She said smiling. Several thank-yous rang out across the table and dinner commenced.
A little while later, after dinner and dessert, Harry and Ron were sitting in front of the fireplace and the rest of the main floor sat empty, as everyone else was else had either gone upstairs, or to sleep.
“How d’you think Hogwarts is going to be this year, mate?” asked Ron, staring into the ruby flames, sitting with his arms spread across the back of the couch.
“Erm… I dunno actually, why should it be any different from any other year?” asked Harry, looking up at Ron from his spot on the floor.
“Oh, maybe because the school practically got obliterated last year, and it was thanks to us that You-Know-Who’s gone.” Said Ron almost casually, although he looked rather pleased with himself.
“Still not going to say the name, are you?” said Harry, raising one of his eyebrows. Ron shrugged dimissively. Hermione came down the stairs, in her nightclothes and sat next to Ron on the sofa.
“You two are going to be ready for start of term, aren’t you? Better get started on your Diagon Alley lists, you know. We’re going there, tomorrow, and school starts the day after that,” She said, poking Ron’s stomach playfully.
“Oi!” he said, laughing and turning red, as soon as Ron moved to bat her away, an owl dropped three letters into the middle of the living room, one addressed to Hermione, one to Ron and another to Harry. Looking slightly confused Ron picked them up and handed each of them their respective letters. Harry opened his and his eyes went wide.
“What? What is it, Harry?” asked Hermione, as she hadn’t opened hers yet.
“I-I’ve been made Head Boy!” cried Harry, smiling widely. Ron grinned but looked a little put out. Ron felt a mixture of jealousy as well some unpleasant memories bubbling up inside him, remembering how much of a prat Percy had been while Head Boy during Ron’s third year. Harry was ecstatic, but knew how Ron must’ve been feeling, as he too remembered how much Percy and Ron had fought while Percy had been Head Boy.
Ron opened his next, almost scared to, but he did and enclosed was just a letter reminding him of his Prefect duties, as a seventh year. It went on about setting a good example and after reading the first few lines, Ron simply tossed it on the floor.
“Well, come on, Hermione, don’t keep us guessing, open your letter!” said Ron, motioning feverishly to the small, unopened letter in her hands.
“Oh… right.” She said, almost as if she forgot about it. She quickly opened it and her eyes lit up, and she began jumping up and down, beaming brightly.
“I’m Head Girl!” she said, excitedly, as Ron hugged her, picking her up enthusiastically and did a little twirl with her, as she dropped her letter.
“Excellent, Hermione, bloody brilliant!” he exclaimed, beaming as he kissed her and she turned pink as he set her back down.
“That’s great Hermione, really, really great!” said Harry, as he too hugged her, although a little less wildly than Ron had. Harry and Hermione finished reading their letters and realised that they would have to meet in the same carriage as Prefects did after the Hogwarts Express left the station on September first to have their duties explained to them.
After a moment, the fire began to die down, and Hermione
went upstairs, still ecstatic after she gave Ron another quick kiss, leaving the two boys sitting quietly in front of the quickly dying fire.
The next morning the home bustled with a little more feverishness and excitement as they Weasleys as well as Harry and Hermione got ready to head to Diagon Alley via Floo Network (which still wasn’t Harry’s favourite). They all had a rather rushed breakfast before huddling quietly together in front of the fireplace. It was slightly early in the morning, and the sun rose slowly above the horizon and filled the room with white-ish light and the grass outside shone brightly with the day’s newly acquired dew.
“Alright, everyone, you all know what to do,” said Molly, quickly making sure that the Floo powder was in place and everything was as it should be.
“Okay, Ginny, dear, you go first.” Said Mrs Weasley, as Ginny made her way to grab some Floo powder, she gave a quick wink at Harry who smiled and she was gone in a puff of smoke and flash of green-ish light after saying the words. She was quickly followed by Arthur and Molly and after a few minutes the whole family was in bustling Diagon Alley.
Harry looked around a moment, it wasn’t like he'd never been here before but he was always amazed and awed by the sight of Diagon Alley. The twisting buildings had obviously been repaired since the previous time he'd been here, and it definitely looked much better without his face plastered on all the walls with ‘Undesirable No. 1’scrawled underneath it. It was bustling with activity, as it always was this time of year. Wizards and witches of varying sizes as well as students bustled in and out of the curious little shops doing late school shopping or simply for pleasure, he finally snapped back and noticed Ron and Hermione were calling him.
“C'mon, mate! We’re heading into Flourish and Blott’s with Mum and Dad!” Ron called, waving his hand for Harry to join them. Harry nodded quickly and ran up to catch up to them, almost knocking over three smaller girls in the process.
“We’re getting our textbooks.” said Hermione, smiling, “Oh, it’s going to be brilliant, absolutely brilliant. You better study up for your N.E.W.T.’s , Ron, so should you, Harry.”
“Not bloody likely,” muttered Ron, rolling his eyes. Harry caught Ron’s eyes and they grinned as they headed inside and a few moments later (and several long line ups) they had bought everything they needed and headed out of the store.
“Where’re Ginny and George?” asked Harry.
“George and Ginny went to Madam Malkin’s, Ginny needs some new robes.” Answered Ron, putting his arm around Hermione, who was beaming.
“Oh.” Was all Harry said, as he realised that all he needed now was to get some equipment from Wiseacre’s and he'd be finished. They turned a corner on the way to Wiseacre’s and he saw the familiar bright orange sign of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Ron smiled a little as he looked up at the sign.
“George has been trying to recruit me to work at his bloody shop for the last two months, I keep saying no, but…” Ron’s voice trailed off, “he doesn’t give up easily.” Ron added with a shrug and a bit of a laugh.
“Of course, not! And you should be helping him! I mean without Fr-” Hermione abruptly ceased speaking and went pink, knowing that Fred’s death wasn’t something Ron liked to talk about. Ron’s smile instantly faded as his bright blue eyes became wet, he quickly became interested in a tuft of grass poking out of the cobblestone road and he went a grey-ish pale. Ron continued looking down for a moment and took his arm off Hermione and she looked instantly ashamed to have brought it up.
“Ron, I'm sorry, I didn’t mean-” began Hermione, glancing at him apologetically, a few tears in her own eyes.
“It’s fine. Never mind it. What else did we need, Harry?” he asked, trying to change the subject, still quite pale.
“Erm, one moment, I’ll look,” he said, taken a little off guard at the abrupt change of subject, fumbling in his pocket for the listed he had scrawled out late the previous night. He pulled it out of his pocket and noticed that just as he thought; he simply needed a bit of equipment from Wiseacre’s.
“Just a few things from Wiseacre’s, mate.” He attempted a smile to try to cheer Ron up. Ron nodded slowly, and his expression didn’t lighten as colour slowly returned to his freckly face.
“All right.” He acknowledged, making his way to the shop, pushing past Hermione and Harry. Hermione’s face fell as she hung back to talk to Harry.
“It’s not your fault, Hermione. He’s just… not ready to talk about it yet. It’s only been a few months, he’s still hurting.” Harry said, trying to smile, placing a head tentatively on her shoulder.
“I-I know. I just hate that I could’ve been so stupid to bring it up, I know he’s hurting. I just wish I could make him feel better.” She said, looking sympathetically at Harry, and glancing at the ground a few times. She looked really ashamed of herself, and he didn’t want her too, but he knew she couldn’t help it. Neither could he. If he’d brought it up, he’d feel horrible too. Fred’s death had affected all of them, but out of the three of them, Ron was definitely hit the hardest. He looked sickly every time someone mentioned his name, and Harry knew he was beating himself up inside. He hated that Ron felt the need to do that. It hadn’t been his fault, none of theirs. He knew Ron just felt as if he should’ve or could’ve done more to prevent Fred’s death, and no matter how many times Harry or Hermione tried to convince him otherwise, Ron still hurt. Dismissing the painful thoughts, he turned back to Hermione.
“Just be there for him, that’s all we can do. Be there for each other.” Harry replied, giving her a quick hug. She placed her head over his shoulder and nodded for a moment before flashing him a quick smile as the two of them rejoined the group in Wiseacre’s.
Mr and Mrs Weasley were speaking to the shop keeper and Ron was scanning around, looking a little happier than he did a few moments before, as Harry and Hermione came in they went up to him. Harry listed off the few things they needed and all of them were rather careful not to bring up Fred again. They bought the items and left the store where they met up with George and Ginny.
“Did you get your things then?” asked Mr Weasley to George and Ginny, who had several bags and were smiling.
“Yeah, she’s all set, Dad.” Answered George as Ginny nodded.
“Good, good. Harry, Ron and Hermione? You’ve got your stuff then?” asked Mrs Weasley. The three of them nodded. “Wonderful, who wants to head off to Sugarplum’s Sweets, then? My treat.”
Ron’s face lit up at the mention of food, and he nodded vigorously.
“That’s another way,” Harry whispered to Hermione, “Food. He always cheers up with food.” Hermione smiled softly as Harry laughed and they all agreed to head to the sweet shop.
The next morning everyone made sure their things were correctly packed and they all headed off to King’s Cross Station to catch the train for, hopefully, a calm year at Hogwarts.
That, of course, would simply not be the case.
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