Chapter 16 : Breakfast at Hermione's
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The weekend was busier than the week. Friday night they had a party at The Burrow. It was organized by George, who sent everyone in the family an owl, “Mum's had it easy long enough! Bring you appetites and dirty laundry to The Burrow Friday night. Maybe I'll tell her we're coming and maybe I won't!”
With Charlie working, Percy off on Ministry business, the dinner party came down to George, Ron and Hermione, Harry and Ginny, Bill and Fleur. Although they all lived physically far apart, apparition, the flue network, and their own portals made everyone as much neighbors as if they lived across a tree-lined suburban drive. Molly, of course, was in on the tease and laid a festive table with everyone's favorites. She presided over the meal from her seat next to Arthur at the end nearest the stove.
No one needed to ask if Molly was happy, she almost glowed with her love for her family, her joy to see her grown children at table again, the power of her magic. It was odd that “homemaker” wasn't considered a “real” position. Making a home, raising a family, lay at the very core of what it meant to be a wizard.
Harry regarded Ginny, she was deep in thought, watching her mum. He leaned into her and whispered, “Molly should teach at Hogwarts.”
Arthur had changed little as his station at the Ministry improved. He was more voluble and in his position as a department leader, more likely to show what he knew. He'd always been sociable, although he mostly showed it among family and friends. The pressures of war had constrained his nature. He was never thoughtless and his fascination with Muggles – as silly as it might sometimes be – meant he didn't reflexively fear or despise them as so many witches and wizards did. His collection of plugs wasn't worth a Knut. Yet, if you needed to know what was or wasn't a threat to the wizarding world, his fascination with Muggles was worth a ton of gold.
It was a good party and went on late, as usual, but Harry and Ginny needed to start early Saturday to be at the London Y.I.P.I. chapter board meeting. The meeting merged into a carry-out lunch and then a pub grub dinner, while they worked on the seemingly endless arrangements for the Y.I.P.I. conference in London next year. As the host chapter many of the conference matters were theirs to arrange. Unsurprisingly, it was a yipi night when they got back late and tired. What could have been a Sunday morning lay-about was quickly interrupted by Hermione's Patronus asking them to come. Now! She needed their help with breakfast. They hurried on with their dressing gowns and took the portal.
Hermione's spell work had been interrupted by the sound of their Muggle door knocker. Ron answered and a neighbor returned a borrowed card table with thanks and neighborhood small talk. Her diverted attention resulted in twice the pancake batter even Ron could consume. The help she needed was eating pancakes. These were American style and Hermione had four pans going on the Muggle stove. She was expertly pouring, flipping, and stacking pancakes with precisely coordinated moves of her wand. It was quite a sight just walking through the kitchen door. Her wand was moving like an orchestra conductor's baton, only faster, and there was a stream of pancakes flying onto a stack at the near end of the kitchen table.
Places for Harry and Ginny were already set so, they ducked beneath the levitating pancakes and slid into their chairs. They watched Hermione. She could do these bits of incredible magic because she wasn't just smart, she was smart with an awesome ability to concentrate. That all gifts are not obvious seemed to be the theme of their weekend.
Ron wanded a pancake onto each of their plates. He spoke between bites, “Sugar's in the jar, honey in the bowl, there's lemon juice and here's some raspberry jam. Do you want butter?”
Both did, so Hermione brought the butter dish and another jar of raspberry jam to the table and sat next to Ron. She buttered one, then sprinkled sugar as she folded it. The others started another. Ron took a break long enough to pass four coffee cups and wand-boil the water for a press-pot. He checked his watch; he often firmly assured anyone who'd listen that coffee had to be brewed with just-done-boiling water and steeped for exactly six minutes. When he determined that the exact time had passed, everyone got a steaming cup. A few sips and bites later, with everyone's fast broken, conversation began with the mundane.
Ron was resting before his next assault on the surplus, holding the hot coffee in both hands. He turned to Harry, “So, are we going to see a memory this week, up at Hogwarts?”
This reminded Ginny she had a favor to ask of her brother, “If you do it Tuesday, could you stop by the pitch and work with me for a couple of hours? I want to try something I've been thinking about now that I'm off Seeker duty. You could take the fire in Gwenog's office up to McGonagall's and meet Harry there.”
“No problem,” Harry shrugged. He had work he needed to do at both ACS and the Auror Office but no particular schedule.
Ron waved his fork as he reached it toward the still-appreciable pancake stack, “Sure, why not. We only need to use the Penseive for an hour or two.”
“So how is the super-secret Mad-Eye project?” teased Hermione as she spread a layer of jam.
Harry gave her in insulted look, although it didn't work coupled with his grin; then he brought her up to date. “The vials we found in the Auror Office, Mad-Eye's memories, are amazing, truly brilliant. He was a creative tactician; he worked by setting traps, getting people to whisper secrets, avoiding fights. But, in a fight he was a powerful duelist. People followed him and that made him stronger still. He was a great Auror. When the times demanded it, he met the need, a real hero.”
Ron was buttering another pancake as he caught Hermione's eye, “You know why we're keeping it to ourselves. We're doing it on our own authority, or bloody lack of it. Moody wasn't a relative or a customer. He didn't leave a Will asking for a portrait. We're doing it because we think he deserves a place in wizarding history.”
Ron turned to Harry, whose mouth was full, so he gestured for Ron to continue. Ron turned back to Hermione. “And, well, we want to talk to him. Imagine what he knows. Once it's done, it won't be worth anyone objecting because it didn't cost anyone a Knut. We think they'll fight over where it hangs, so the Ministry will have to sort it out, take it over. Surely the Auror Office makes sense.”
Harry and Ron were laughing at their private joke until Ron stopped for some coffee. As soon as Ron was finished with Mad-Eye's portrait, they intended to hang it there themselves. As he sipped coffee he met each of their eyes and answered their unasked question,. “I can find my way to those memories easily because I've already been there in the Penseive. It's Mad-Eye's memories that lead me through time. It's like he's telling me where he wants me to look.” He stopped for a sip of his cooling coffee until he realized how right he was. “He must-ave wanted these remembered; otherwise, they wouldn't be neatly sorted into vials and stuffed where they wouldn't be found for a while.”
Hermione was enthused, “Well, I can't wait. It'll be wonderful to talk to Mad-Eye's portrait. It was such a shock when he was killed. Seems wrong we never even had a funeral.”
They were all remembering the night of seven Potters until Ginny remembered today. “The wall clock, is that the time? Of course it is. Harry, remember? We told Nessie we'd meet in the drawing room to hear her report before she goes off to Hogwarts.”
They hustled out of their seats while thanking Hermione for breakfast. Harry told Ron he'd check in by Patronus to fix a time for their Mad-Eye session. They were about to exit the kitchen when Hermione thought of what to do with the still-large pile of pancakes sitting at the end of the kitchen table.
“Wait, wait, let me wrap these and put a couple jars of jam in a bag, Nessie can take them with her and have a big breakfast with her family. They're doing your fan mail, right?”
Nessie was delighted about the pancake treat from Hermione and gave her weekly report to a master and mistress who were a few minutes late and still in their dressing gowns. Nessie was house proud; Grimmauld Place was a paragon of magical artistry. Like most every week, there was nothing to report except that all was well. It gave Nessie the greatest joy to say it. The young couple liked the little elf. They had begun to understand her bond to the house, master and mistress. It seemed her happiness actually strengthened that bond. They came to the only possible conclusion, it's magic, take her as she is, stand back and let her be an elf.
When Nessie disapparted, Harry and Ginny sat for a minute on the coach where they had just listened to Nessie's proud recital. It really hadn't been much of a relaxing weekend and Sunday was moving fast. Breakfast with Ron and Hermione was nice but there wasn't much time for conversation.
Ginny suggested they might as well get something done. “Didn't you have something you wanted to show me about the Farnsworth problem? We could go to our flat, get a little ahead on our week.”
“Why not?” agreed Harry. “It's too early to eat, and there's not enough time to go flying, so yea, come take a look. I want to see if you see what I do.”
“Yea, it makes sense to do something.”
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