Chapter 101: Meetings
“Shut up! Shut up!” Hermione screamed as loud as she could after slamming her door and quickly performing Muffliato so no one outside her office would hear. “I have to be working with the most irritating people in the world,” she mumbled to herself falling into her desk chair and placing her head in her hands. Ignoring the knock on the door, she began to cry.
“I’m ho-ome,” Ron said in a sing-song voice as he opened the door to the flat.
“’Bout ruddy time,” Hermione responded from the sofa.
“What’s got your knickers in a twist?”
“What’s got my? What’s got my?” Hermione’s face turned red.
“Woah, woah, calm down.” Ron sat next to Hermione and tentatively put his arm around her.
Hermione took a deep breath and rubbed Ron’s hand on her shoulder.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t take it out on you.”
“I’m used to it.” He kissed her forehead. “Work, is it?”
“As usual,” she sighed. “No one knows a damn thing about house-elves and they all think they can work on the resolution.” She pulled at some hair in frustration. “Why do I have to work with such imbeciles?”
“Remember how I used to be?”
“Lazy, careless, and unthinking?”
“Er, yeah, no, about house-elves. You helped me see the truth. House-elves are people, too.”
“You thought I was some idiot who would never see the light and now look at me.”
“I wouldn’t put it quite like that, but, yes.”
“Hermione, you’re brilliant. You’re—you just need to be patient with them. Look how long it took me.”
“I’d like to think they’re not as dimwitted as you, but I don’t know.”
“Dimwitted? Oh, I’m dimwitted now, am I?”
Ron pushed her into the sofa and kissed her nose.
“I’ll show you how dimwitted I am.” He kissed her again.
“Sto—“ Hermione said amidst giggles. “Stop! Hey, that hurts!”
He lifted his head slightly, “Sorry.” and then moved on to her lips. “Now how about some dinner?”
“Always Ron, always thinking with his stomach,” she said tickling him in said stomach.
Hermione wanted to ignore it. Almost every fiber of her being was telling her to ignore it. A small part of her, however, was telling her she had to open the door and do the work assigned her. The small part won.
“It’s open,” she called.
“We’re starting in the conference room in five minutes.” Richards poked his head in.
“Thanks, I’ll be right there.”
“I can wait.”
“I said I’ll be right there.” She waved him off.
“We can walk together.”
“I have some stuff to gather before I make it. You just go on without me.”
“Need help?” He stepped into the room.
“No, thank you,” Hermione said not looking up.
“Need me to carry anything?” He reached for some parchment on her desk knocking over her quills.
“I’ve got it.” She stuffed the quills back in their case.
“I reckon we’re making good headway on the resolution.”
“We’ve decided nothing, Richards. No one knows what house-elves want. No one treats them with the respect they deserve.”
“The respect they deserve is having a good place to live while they serve us.”
Hermione glared at him.
“They’re not slaves. They’re living, breathing creatures with thoughts, feelings, and emotions like us. They deserve far more than we give them.” She grabbed the parchment and headed out of her office with Richards following.
“Have you ever considered they like serving us?”
“I have met house-elves. I’ve talked to them. I would not say it’s a like more than an obligation. It’s tradition to them. We cannot treat them like they are below dirt. They deserve far much more than we are currently giving them. A better society that is what they need.”
“They should be thankful they have a place in society!”
Throwing open the door to the conference room Hermione stormed in and chose the seat next to Minister Shacklebolt.
“Good to see you here today, Minister.” Kingsley did not usually attend these meetings.
“Hello, Hermione,” he eyed the bundle of parchment she carefully placed on the table. “Done your research, I see?”
“As always.” She looked up to see Quigley and Ernie Stump, Gibbon Lansger, and Betty Benson present. “Are we ready to begin?”
Quigley nodded standing up.
“We’ve been discussing this for the past week. Hermione has brought up some interesting ideas and plans for house-elves.”
“House-elves deserve their freedom,” she interrupted.
“Yes, you’ve made that perfectly clear,” Betty said. “But, it shows your lack of understanding. Is this a want for you or a want for the house-elves? I believe we need to bring one in here and get his take on this issue. Why are we discussing for them when they should be discussing this with us?”
“My thoughts exactly. Let us get a few on the panel and hear their thoughts.” Hermione’s eyes brightened at the idea.
“They’re just going to tell us what we already know,” Richards mumbled.
“Are you sure about this?” Lansger questioned. “Do we really need to talk with house-elves?”
“We’ve already interviewed them, have we not?” Stump added.
“We’re not house-elves,” Hermione said, “so what gives us the right to make decisions for them? Because we’re human?”
“Yes,” Lansger said.
“I agree with Miss Benson and Mrs. Weasley,” Kingsley spoke up. “Having house-elves on the panel is a splendid idea. I know you’re afraid of them, Mr. Lansger—“
“Am not,” Lansger muttered.
“This would do you good to meet and interact with them.”
“Why—“ he began.
“I’d like to hear what you think about this, Quigley,” Kingsley talked over him.
“I—er—“ he stammered. “You reckon this will help?”
“I do,” Hermione said. “Why should we be making decisions for them? Why do we think we know what’s best?”
“Because—“ Richards started.
“No. There is no because,” Hermione continued. “There is no reason.”
“Granger, we are the more intelligent, the more evolved being. We make the decisions because we are able to think better than they are,” Richards said.
“You have never talked to a house elf, you told me before. What you know or rather, what you think you know is based on years of prejudice and discrimination.”
“Is it so wrong to think that witches and wizards are of a higher class than house elves?” Lansger questioned.
“I’m with Granger on this,” Stump spoke up. “How do we know what we think we know is right? I’ve gone for the interviews, but that’s nothing compared to bringing in a couple of house-elves and have them discuss right here with us in the meetings. They deserve that.”
“I like to hear that,” Kingsley said.
“Er, yeah, yeah,” Quigley added. “Granger and Stump you two work on getting some house-elves to meet with us.”
“They’ll just bring house-elves who only believe in their ideals,” Richards said. “We need unbiased…”
“All right, Richards, you go with them.”
“You seem to be in a much better mood today,” Ron said. He entered the kitchen to hear his wife whistling as she cooked.
“Hi,” she greeted him with a quick kiss. “We’re inviting house-elves to become a part of our meetings.” She stirred the spoon in her pot of stew.
“Yes and it wasn’t even my idea!”
“I’d like to invite Kreacher.”
“Kreacher? Crotchety old Kreacher?”
“Right, you do remember who he is?”
“Yes, this is precisely why I want him on the council. He thinks differently than me.”
“He disagrees with you.”
“Right, well, sometimes. We need a diverse group of house-elves. I feel this is the right thing to do.”
“Well, if you think this is a good idea.”
“I do, I do, I really do.”
“Good to see you in a good mood for I’ve some news myself.”
Hermione put down the wooden spoon which she had been stirring by hand and looked directly at Ron’s face. She hated when he came home with news. She knew what he was going to say next.
“I’ve been requested, no, I’ve been asked, no…”
“Harry’s got you on another mission, right?”
“I understand. It’s your line of work.” She patted him on the chest. “You just do good and come back to me, right?”
“Don’t I always?” He gave her a wavering smile.
“How long you plan to be away for this time?”
“So far two weeks, but it’s indefinite, really.”
Ron kissed her forehead.
“I hate doing this to you.”
“Doing what? Protecting the wizarding world? You love your job and I love that you love it. I love you.” She reached on tip-toe and kissed his lips. “When do you leave?”
“Tomorrow morning, early.”
“Oh, well, you better go get packing.”
“You finish dinner,” Ron called out as he headed toward the bedroom.
“Always Ron Weasley,” Hermione muttered with a smile.
Chapter 102: You Don't Want Easy
Kreacher was off for the day. Harry and Ginny, with encouragement from Hermione, respected him enough to give him one day off a week. They let him choose the day and this week he chose today. He’d chosen it at the beginning of the week before Andromeda asked Ginny to watch Teddy.
Watching Teddy wasn’t a bad thing. Ginny didn’t need Kreacher here for that. But, she was sure if he’d known beforehand that Harry’s seven year old godson was coming over, especially at a time when Harry was away on a mission, he would not have volunteered this day as his off-day.
“Okay, my little wizard,” Ginny said as she placed five month old James in his high chair. “You sit here while Mummy cleans the kitchen. Your godbrother should be here in half an…” She paused when she saw the green flames glowing in the fireplace. “Hour.”
“So sorry about this.” Andromeda quickly stepped out of the fireplace, brushing the soot off her robes.
“Moony!” Teddy exclaimed as he fell out of the loo. His crup had been in his arms but when he fell the crup ran towards James and started licking him. “Moony, no!”
James giggled at the animal licking his toes, but Teddy still did not look pleased.
“Toes are not food,” he said. “Gran’s been helping me teach Moony not to eat non-food things,” he explained to everyone. “My book says crups like to eat everything and we have to teach them not to.”
“You’re doing a good job, Teddy,” Ginny complimented.
“He ate a pair of my shoes yesterday,” Andromeda commented. “But, no matter. It was an old pair of shoes.”
Teddy rubbed the toe of his right shoe behind his left leg.
“You’re doing a fine job,” Andromeda praised. “I must be going now. Be good for Ginny.” And with that she disappeared into the flames.
“Where’s Harry?” Teddy asked.
“On a mission,” Ginny replied. Teddy was old enough to understand his godfather’s job and that it took him away to mystery places every once in a while.
“He’s okay, right?” Teddy hopped up into Ginny’s lap.
“Of course. He always is,” she lied. Teddy may have been old enough to under his godfather’s job, but he didn’t have to know the dangers of it.
“Harry’s brave. When I grow up I want to be as brave as him.”
“I reckon you already are.”
“It doesn’t matter how old you are.”
Teddy jumped down from Ginny’s lap shaking his head.
“Moony!” He shouted. “Moony!”
“Come on, James.” Ginny pulled James from his high chair and followed Teddy into the sitting room.
Ginny found Teddy on the floor wrestling with his crup. James started squealing when he saw this meaning he wanted to get down, but that was the last thing Ginny was going to allow. She thought the two might be playing but that Teddy might also be trying to keep something out of Moony’s mouth.
“It’s okay, Ginny,” Teddy said a few seconds later. “I took care of it.” He sighed rubbing Moony’s back. “This animal is a hand full.”
Ginny chuckled softly as she placed James on the floor. James ran to Teddy and began playing with Moony. Ginny joined them and the four of them played together for roughly half an hour before a guest came through the floo.
Hermione stepped into the sitting room.
“I hope I’m not bothering you. I’m just—it’s my lunch break—and I’m just tired so I thought I’d visit you instead of going anywhere.”
“I can go if you’d rather.”
“No, no, this is fine. We’re just playing with Teddy’s crup.”
“Yeah, how is he, Teddy?” Hermione asked sitting down on the sofa. Moony walked over to her and rubbed her leg. She bent over and petted him.
“Good. Well, he’s still eating non-food things, but I’m working with him. That book you got me is great.”
“You want me to fix you something for lunch?” Ginny stood up.
“No thanks. I’m not hungry. My stomach’s been doing a funny flip-flop all day.”
“Let me get you some tea. Yes, tea will be good.” Ginny headed into the kitchen.
Teddy walked over to Hermione and Moony on the sofa.
“My tummy did flip-flops once. I even threw up my ham sandwich. Gran gave me a potion and I was all better. Do you need a potion?”
Hermione smiled politely. “No, thanks. Tea will suffice.”
“What does that mean? Suffice?” Teddy asked.
“Oh, that means it will be enough. Tea will be enough.”
Teddy nodded and began playing with Moony again. His gran loved drinking tea, but Teddy thought it was too bitter. It came in different flavors, though, so maybe he’d like a different flavor than the one his grandmother drank.
“Thanks.” Hermione took the hot mug from her sister-in-law and sipped the calming liquid.
Ginny grabbed James from the floor and sat on the sofa next to Hermione.
“I think I’m just nervous about today.”
“What’s so special about today?”
Hermione gave Ginny a look.
“We’ve gathered all the house-elfs for our meeting today. We’re to meet with them after lunch. Didn’t Kreacher tell you why he wanted the day off?”
“I invited him to work with us. It would be good for us to have a house-elf of a different opinion. We don’t want them to all be the same. That’s not how this works. We can’t get anywhere if we just pick house-elfs who agree with each other.”
“But, Kreacher’s a bit of a…”
“Your brother already told me. That’s precisely it. He’s no Dobby.”
“Doesn’t that bother you? He won’t agree with you. He believes house-elfs are born needing to serve their masters, like how we are born needing to breathe or eat.”
“That does go against my beliefs, but we need that on the council. We need all sides. I want to make as many house-elfs happy as possible and we can’t do that if the ones on council all agree with me. Out here they don’t all agree with me.”
“What are you saying, Hermione? Are you actually changing your opinion on house-elf rights?”
“I didn’t say that!” Hermione’s cheeks turned pink. “I still believe that house-elfs deserve to be treated like humans and not slaves. I don’t agree with the inhumane ways witches and wizards treat them.”
“So, what is this about? Making house-elfs happy or giving them equal rights they deserve?”
“Equal rights! But, but, but,” she paused. “I do want to make them happy.” She threw her hands in the air. “This has become way more complicated than I ever thought it would be.”
“Did you think it would be easy?”
“You wouldn’t have liked it if it were easy.”
Hermione shook her head and leaned back against the sofa cushions.
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” She closed her eyes. “Just tired.” She opened her eyes. “It’s one thing to want house-elfs to disagree with me. It’s another to have co-workers who disagree.”
“You’re Hermione Gra-I mean Weasley, Hermione Weasley. If anyone can handle it, it’s you.”
I apologize to everyone reading my story. I haven't posted the last few chapters. The site is closing on Jan. 31 so I won't be able to post after that anyway. I cannot believe my story is outlasting CoS. Anyway... If you want to continue reading this fanfic I've got it on fanfiction.net (the link is in my signature, but I'll post it here, too): https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3723406/1/Aftermath
OK, this place isn't going anywhere and I have failed to post the last few chapters here (I'll be honest, I forgot until just the other day) so I will have them posted shortly (and by shortly that doesn't mean in the next few hours, it might not be til tomorrow).
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