What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Summary: Sequel to “What If?”; After the Battle Of Hogwarts, Ron, Hermione, Harry, Ginny and the rest of the wizarding world tries to move on with their lives. However, after an attempted kidnapping at Hogwarts goes awry, one day after the battle, questions arise asking if the Second War is truly over.
Ships: Ron/Hermione, Harry/Ginny, George/Angelina, Neville/Hannah, Seamus/Lavender, others.
Point Of View: Mainly Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny... with other minor PoVs to do some supporting roles and small story-lines.
Author's Note: If you have not read and completed the prequel to this: “What If?”, please do or you will be confused. This has major spoilers to what happens in “What If?” This story will support the canon information J.K. Rowling has given us, but with a few major changes to support the prequel to this story.
"What If?" Story: http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=130816
Also, to those of you who read “What If?” while I was updating it know that I updated the story pretty quickly. At the time of posting this chapter, I am still in the early stages of preparing notes and ideas for the story, so I cannot promise I will always be able to update the story as quickly.
High noon fell over Hogwarts on the day after the battle that brought down the end of Lord Voldemort and many of his followers.
To many of the survivors of the Battle Of Hogwarts, those involved directly in the victory, the day was known as D-Day-Plus-One. Very few described it as a day of Victory. Even less referred to it as the end of the Second War. Because, while the mood was positive for the most part, this was not the day to celebrate, but to mourn. The massive funeral would take place the following afternoon, and while most of those who died would be buried in the Hogwarts graveyard, others would be brought home for private services, and would be laid to rest in their home-towns and family graveyards.
While most of the survivors were assisting the injured, or preparing the dead for the funeral, a few who were too overwhelmed were sitting in the Great Hall, and most of those people were hoping to help with something that did not remind them of the great battle that had taken place.
While Hermione Granger was one of those sitting in the Great Hall, at one of the long tables usually reserved for students during meal-time and assemblies, she was not there because of high emotions. Many people had been lost during the last few months of the Second War, including her own parents, brutally murdered by the now-slain Bellatrix Lestrange. But Hermione had a reason to be happy, even after all of the loss. She had discovered only hours before that she had a new member of her own family.
Matthew John Granger, now seven months old to the day, had been born to Richard and Helen Granger on October 2nd of the previous year, only weeks before their deaths. Helen's pregnancy had been kept a total secret from Hermione, for her own protection and for the protection of her parents and brother. Unfortunately, Hermione's parents hadn't been given enough protection. On Halloween, they were set to travel to a safe-house with their protector, Elphias Doge, a member of the Order of the Phoenix, when Bellatrix Lestrange had attacked the three of them in Hermione's Oxford home. Bellatrix had no knowledge that another member of the family was in the house, thanks to the last-ditch efforts of magic Doge had put up, shortly before his death, around the small closet where Matthew was hidden by his mother.
Hermione had no knowledge about her new brother until that morning, when Molly Weasley had escorted her to Andromeda Tonks' house, where Matthew had been placed for his own safety. Hermione had quickly decided that she would have to take care of her new brother, but she was not alone. Her boyfriend of less than a year, and fiancee, of now two months, Ron Weasley, had offered to help Hermione out. Hermione quickly accepted and it was decided that Ron would move into Hermione's house as soon as possible.
Hermione, who was always prepared for anything, was currently writing a list of things to do in order to be ready for this unexpected turn of events. Andromeda Tonks had allowed Matthew to remain at her house for a few days, as long as was needed for Hermione and Ron to get everything ready. First, she had decided to allow a bit of a grace period and mourn the loss of those who died in the battle. Especially, she thought sadly, one of Ron's older brothers, Fred. She had to admire Ron's courage for stepping up to such a task after all of this, but she knew it would still take a while for him to recover from the loss of his brother. And she would be there for him, as she had been for so long, and always would be.
One of the other most important things on her list was to locate her parents' Will and the Deed to her Oxford home. She knew exactly where they were. Her father had never been a fan of lawyers, so he had always kept important information locked up at home in a safe which only Richard, Helen and Hermione knew about. It would take some official paperwork to set everything right, but she was sure the house was officially hers.
“Miss Granger,” a familiar voice interrupted Hermione from her thoughts, though it was softer than Hermione was used to.
Hermione looked up to see Professor McGonagall standing a few feet away from her.
“Good afternoon, Professor McGonagall,” Hermione said, “I hope you are well.”
“Healthy as a hippogriff,” McGonagall stated, “But emotionally spent.”
“I understand,” Hermione said, “This day is extremely difficult for all of us.”
“Yes,” McGonagall said, “May I take a seat?”
Hermione nodded and the Hogwarts Headmistress sat down next to her.
“Only a few minutes ago,” she said, “I was told by one Ron Weasley that you recently discovered you have a baby brother.”
“Yes,” Hermione said, “That is actually what I am working on right now – things to do with him. At the moment, I find it more important than – well – everything else.”
“I understand,” McGonagall said, “It must have been quite a shock.”
“Did you know about his existence?” Hermione asked.
“I was told by Remus and Dora after your parents died,” McGonagall said, “Yes.”
“Professor, may I ask you a question?” Hermione asked.
“You just did,” McGonagall said, a rare smile crossing her lips, “But you may ask another.”
“Earlier today when I met my brother,” Hermione said, “I was discussing some things with Ron. And he said something about a special book you have – a book of names, I think. For future Hogwarts students?”
“You are wondering if your mother gave birth to another Muggleborn?” McGonagall asked.
“Um... yes,” Hermione said.
“No future Hogwarts students were born on October 2nd of this previous year, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said, “So unless you have expectations to live somewhere else in eleven years, I will take an educated guess and say that your brother is a Muggle.”
“I thought as much,” Hermione said, “Though it is still hard to hear.”
“May I ask why?” McGonagall asked.
“Well,” Hermione said, “Matthew – if he's a Muggle, he's going to be growing up around me and Ron – and, well – any future children we have, as well as wizards and witches in general. It is just --”
“If you wish my opinion, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said, “I do not think there is a risk to the Statute of Secrecy if your brother grows up with the knowledge of us. As long as you teach him to keep our ways a secret from other Muggles, especially those whom he will become close with in life... fellow students when he goes to school, for example... I think you'll find that he'll be a most welcome Muggle in the wizarding world... just like your parents were.”
“As you probably recall,” McGonagall said, “I was the one who informed you and your parents that you were a witch when you were eleven years of age.”
“Yes,” Hermione said, nodding, remembering the day.
“Well, then,” McGonagall said, “I think you should just consider Matthew as you did your parents – a Muggle who has a witch in the family. If I recall, Mr. Potter's own aunt, however horrible she may be, grew up with the knowledge of the wizarding world and she herself is a Muggle.”
“Yes,” Hermione said, “But she is so much of a bigot --”
McGonagall smiled again. “I've known you for over seven years now, Miss Granger – going back to when I first met you. Because of you, I do not believe young Matthew would ever consider having an ounce of hatred Harry's relatives possess towards our kind.”
“No,” Hermione said, “I would give him a lecture if he did.”
McGonagall chuckled lightly.
“Now I must tend to important matters, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said, “I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors – oh! – one last thing when speaking of future endeavors. I don't know if this would qualify as you, but as you may guess, it is not going to be exactly – erm – prudent for your fellow Seventh Year students to take their NEWTs this term. Therefore, during the next term, in December, I am inviting those NEWT-qualified students back to Hogwarts for a couple weeks before Christmas Break to take their exams. This gives them enough time over the next few months to prepare. I'm not sure how popular the idea would be – and because of your current situation – I can hardly expect you to take them, but I am giving you that invitation if you wish to do so.”
“Um – I'll think about it, Professor,” Hermione said, “We'll see what happens between now and then. I do wish to complete my education, and if it wasn't for Matthew, I would have been open to return for the full term I missed. But things happen and – even if Ron would take the responsibility of Matthew for that long, I could never do it. But perhaps a couple weeks could work.”
“You have time to decide, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said, “I will not be sending out the invitations for a few months.”
Hermione smiled and nodded. Professor McGonagall bowed slightly and stood up. Hermione watched her walk away, and she grinned when she saw Ron walking through the large oak doors of the Great Hall. She motioned toward him, and his expression brightened at the sight of her. As he walked closer to her, Hermione noticed his eyes were very red, as if he had been crying recently, and he looked rather dusty and dirty. She turned up her nose, owing to the stench surrounding him, when he sat down and kissed her, but she returned the brief kiss and enjoyed it all the same.
“How are you?” Hermione asked, caressing his closest hand with hers, “Are you okay?”
“I will be,” Ron said, nodding and Hermione was surprised at such an honest answer, “You?”
“I will be,” Hermione said, echoing his response. “I'm sorry I haven't been any help around here. I should be helping your family get through this and I'm --”
Ron put a finger on Hermione's mouth and she stopped and smiled.
“Nobody blames you, Hermione,” Ron said. “They completely understand what you are going through.”
“But I should be there for you,” Hermione said, “For all of you.”
“You are, Hermione,” Ron said. “But if you feel that bad and wish to mourn Fred like the rest of us, then you should come back to the Burrow for a few hours.”
“But we're here helping with the funeral arrangements,” Hermione said, “We can't possibly --”
“We're arranging our own private funeral,” Ron said, “in the Weasley Family Graveyard. Dad sent Bill and Fleur to the Ministry to get the papers prepared for what is referred to as 'the right to move a body from a battlefield'.”
“But your family has every right for Fred to be buried at the Burrow!” Hermione exclaimed.
“You're correct,” Ron said, “Dad just wishes to avoid the formalities. Plus it gives Charlie enough time to get here from Romania.”
“Have you heard from Charlie?” Hermione asked.
“Dad sent an owl last night to him, and received a reply letter just this morning,” Ron said. “It was a pretty emotional letter. Dad said he saw stains on the parchment – teardrops.”
“How's George?” Hermione asked.
“Coping,” Ron said, “But he has Angelina helping him out. Angelina is really the only one George will speak to right now.”
“She is his wife, Ron,” Hermione said.
“And how is Ginny? And Harry?” Hermione asked.
“Dunno,” Ron said, “Haven't seen either of them since we all came back from Mrs. Tonks' house. I think they're trying to help out with everything else. You know how Harry is – he doesn't want people to thank him for ending the Second War.”
“Is the Second War over?” Hermione asked, “I know this was an extremely big step, but – well --”
“Death Eaters are still being rounded up,” Ron said, “According to Kingsley anyway. Quite a few escaped after You-Know-Who was killed.”
“Ron,” Hermione said, “You know you can say the name Voldemort now.”
Ron opened his mouth to speak, when suddenly a loud POP was heard nearby. Hermione turned around and saw the Snatcher known as Scabior standing there.
“Hello beautiful,” Scabior said, looking at Hermione with a grin.
All around the hall, people screamed as four Snatchers appeared behind Scabior. Hermione tried to grab her wand, but Ron had his first, and he sent a Stunning spell at Scabior. It missed, and Scabior pointed his wand at them.
“Time to take back my prize,” Scabior said, “Petrificus – oomph!”
Scabior was hit with a spell that sent him flying toward the ground, Stunned and unconscious. At first, Hermione thought Ron had done it, but the spell had come from the direction of the doorway. Soon, thanks to a barrage of spells, the other four Snatchers were all Stunned on the ground as well. Hermione looked toward the entrance of the Great Hall and found Professor McGonagall, Hagrid, Harry, Ginny, Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbot standing there, their wands pointed in front of them.
“Are you two okay?” Harry said, as he and Ginny ran forward to Hermione and Ron, “We heard the pops of Apparation! Wh-what happened?”
“I-I said You-Know-Who's name,” Hermione said.
“The Taboo is still up?” Harry asked, “Professor McGonagall – I --”
“I heard, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said, “Hagrid, send messages to the other Professors. Tell them to get the enchantments back up... quickly. And send a message around to survivors not to say You-Know-Who's name. Then send a message to the Ministry to get word out everyone there. The name is still Taboo!”
“Yes, ma'am,” Hagrid said, and back-tracked out of the Great Hall.
“I-I'm sorry,” Hermione said, “I didn't know that the Taboo was – oh, Merlin!”
She cupped her face with her hands to hide the tears coming down her cheeks.
“It is not your fault, Hermione,” Ron said, putting his arm around Hermione, holding her against him, “You're okay. We're both okay.”
“Professor,” Harry said, “Can't Kingsley do something about this? The Taboo, I mean? He is the Minister.”
“The Taboo is very strong, Harry,” Hermione said, “Old magic.”
“Does anyone know where Kingsley is?” McGonagall asked.
“I do, Headmistress!” a voice said.
Hermione looked up to see Percy, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley walking over to them. Mrs. Weasley, who saw that Hermione was very distraught, sat on the other side of her to comfort her.
“Father and I spoke to Kingsley not half-an-hour ago,” Percy said, “He said he was going back to the Ministry and he expected the two of us there by this evening. He never said why – that is all I know.”
“I imagine he's there to be sworn in as the new Minister,” Mr. Weasley said.
“Percy, I understand if you cannot do this,” McGonagall said, “Especially with the loss of your brother --”
“Say the word, Headmistress,” Percy said, “And I will do it.”
“Please send a message personally to Kingsley,” McGonagall said, “This moment. Tell him we have five Snatchers in custody, and in dire need of Aurors to take them to the Ministry Tell him that the Taboo is still active. Nobody should say You-Know-Who's name until we find out how to take the Taboo down. The wizarding world has to know about this.”
“I will do that myself,” Percy said, “Expect Aurors within the hour. Mother, Father, I will be home in time for the – er – the arrangements.”
“Be safe, Percy,” Mrs. Weasley said.
Percy hugged his mother and father and hurried out of the Great Hall.
“Scabior,” Hermione said, “I think he was trying to kidnap me. He said – he said I was his prize.”
“I will personally ask the Aurors myself to find out why, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said.
Hermione sniffled and buried her head in Ron's shoulder.
“I-I thought this was o-over,” Hermione said, with a hiccup, “I didn't expect – oh, Merlin, what would Matthew do if something –?”
“Hermione,” Ron said, and Hermione felt Ron's lips on her head, “Nothing is going to happen to you. I promise.”
“Perhaps we should take Hermione back to the Burrow,” Mrs. Weasley said, “I was going back anyway to – to set everything up. Perhaps we should all just go back now, eh, Hermione?”
“O-okay,” Hermione said.
“Molly, I will find George and Angelina,” Mr. Weasley said, “You take Ron, Ginny, Hermione and Harry back. We'll be there very shortly.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Weasley said, nodding; she stood up and hugged her husband, “Be safe.”
Hermione gathered her things and put them in her bag. She then took Ron's hand and followed Mrs. Weasley, Harry and Ginny out of the Great Hall and headed off toward Hogsmeade to Apparate to the Burrow.
(Kingsley Shacklebolt's PoV – twenty minutes later)
Newly appointed British Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, tapped his fingers on his desk rhythmically, as he listened to his secretary drone on about different announcements and urgent things needing to get done. He was staring at the back of a piece of parchment, which was floating in mid-air in front of his secretary as she read from it, and hoped this would fool his secretary into believing he had her undivided attention. At the moment, he was only listening to sections. Also... he wasn't sure if he even remembered her name.
Truthfully he just needed a shut-eye. He hadn't slept in almost thirty-six hours, and the Battle of Hogwarts had worn him out measurably. Why the Wizengamot had to name him Minister of Magic so soon!
“-- and the British Muggle Prime Minister requests your presence tomorrow afternoon,” his secretary continued, “so the two of you can have formal introductions.”
“Introductions?” Kingsley said, with a laugh, “The man knows who I am. I was guarding his life for going on two years!”
“Official procedures, Minister,” the secretary said, “Minister meets Minister, you know.”
“I cannot take the appointment tomorrow,” Kingsley said. “I am due back at Hogwarts to head the funeral.”
“I will see if I can change the meeting,” the secretary said. “I am sure he will understand your reasons. And finally --” she turned her attention to the parchment for a moment – “the Wizengamot wish to remind you that there are quite a few big job openings needed to fill, including your Undersecretary --”
“That position will be filled by the end of the day,” Kingsley said, “I have the right man for the job.”
“Sir!” a voice yelled, out in the room outside the office, “Sir! I must ask you to slow down!”
Kingsley stood up quickly and pointed his wand at the doorway. The secretary backed up and Kingsley saw Percy Weasley rushing into the office, followed by two Aurors. Kingsley recognized one of the Aurors as John Dawlish.
“I'm sorry, Minister!” Dawlish said, “Mr. Weasley insisted he come and speak to you.”
“It is okay, Auror Dawlish,” Kingsley said, lowering his wand, “He is very trustworthy, as I'm sure you know.”
“Yes, sir,” Dawlish said.
“What is it, Mr. Weasley?” Kingsley asked.
“I have reason to believe the Taboo is still active,” Percy said, quickly, “Five Snatchers showed up in the Great Hall at Hogwarts when Miss Hermione Granger said You-Know-Who's real name. The protective enchantments around Hogwarts have, since then, been put back up.”
“The Taboo?” Dawlish said, “It is still active? Impossible.”
“Minerva McGonagall has the five Snatchers in custody,” Percy said, “It is believed that Miss Granger was about to be kidnapped by them before they were taken down. The Headmistress requests Aurors to go to the castle and bring the Snatchers here for interrogation.”
“Dawlish,” Kingsley said, “You know what to do.”
“Yes, sir!” Dawlish said, “Right away, sir.”
“Come have a seat, Percy,” Kingsley said, returning to his seat, “Since you are here, I wish to discuss other matters with you, and then I want to hear everything you know about this attack. I promise it will not take too much time. I understand your brother's funeral is going to take place in a few hours.”
“Yes,” Percy said, as he sat down in the chair on the other side of the desk, “Can you attend?”
“I'm afraid I cannot,” Kingsley said, “I am too busy. But give my condolences to your family. I have already given some, but I feel it is not enough.”
“I will pass along the message,” Percy said.
“Thank you,” Kingsley said. “Now, I am sure you remember that I asked you and your father to be here by this evening to discuss matters of importance with me, yes?”
“Yes, Minister,” Percy said.
“Well,” Kingsley said, “As you can understand, I have no Undersecretary in my office. You are highly qualified to do so, and I wish to give you the job as Junior Undersecretary. A Senior Undersecretary has already been named. He will be your boss.”
“My father?” Percy asked.
“No,” Kingsley said, chortling, “I have a more important job for him. No... a man by the name of Albert Runcorn will be the Senior Undersecretary. Do you know him?”
“I know of him,” Percy said, “Excellent choice, though if I may say so, a little loud at times, if you get my meaning.”
“He is boisterous,” Kingsley said, “But he is a good man. I hope you will – to give a less bold term – play nicely with him.”
“Yes, sir,” Percy said, “Thank you, Minister, for this position. I will not take it lightly.”
“You're welcome,” Kingsley said, “Also, I know your father is going through a tough time with your brother's death, so I have changed my mind about my meeting with him. Since you are here, you may pass along the message to him.”
“Message, Minister?” Percy asked.
“Your father has been promoted to the Head of the Muggle Liason Office,” Kingsley said. “He will handle important meetings with the British Muggle Prime Minister, as well as other delegates.”
“I'm sure he will be most delighted,” Percy said.
“Yes,” Kingsley said, “I'm sure he will be. Now back to more pressing issues. The Taboo.”
“Annoying piece of work, I'll say – er – if I may be blunt, sir,” Percy said.
Kingsley only chuckled. “But I must say the Taboo makes me wonder. If I put together a group of Aurors and told one of them to say You-Know-Who's name, could we not capture those Snatchers who drop in, and interrogate them?”
“That is quite an idea, sir,” Percy said, “Perhaps we should try it.”
“It was more of a rhetorical suggestion,” Kingsley said, “I would dare not make such a request my first day as Minister.”
“No, sir,” Percy said, “Of course not.”
“But what also makes me wonder,” Kingsley said, “is this: if the Taboo is still up, why haven't we heard about other attempted or successful captures and/or murders today? You-Know-Who is defeated. I'm sure a number of wizards out there would say the name in victory of his defeat.”
“I-I don't know sir,” Percy said, “It does sound odd.”
“Tell me,” Kingsley said, “Did you recognize any of the Snatchers who had attacked Hogwarts?”
“The leader, sir,” Percy said, “Scabior. I actually fought against him during the battle, but I guess he escaped during the – er – grace period when You-Know-Who had called back his Death Eaters and waited for Harry.”
“Yes, I expected it was Scabior,” Kingsley said, nodding.
“Sir?” Percy asked.
“I spoke to Harry Potter this morning,” Kingsley said, “and he told me a bit about a peculiar event that had taken place in Wiltshire at the home of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy a couple months ago. Mr. Potter, Miss Granger and your brother, Ron, were at Malfoy Manor... and it seems that Ron had been kidnapped, but rescued shortly after his kidnapping.”
“This is news to me!” Percy said, his expression one of shock, “I will have to talk to him about it myself!”
“Yes,” Kingsley said, “Mr. Potter also told me Scabior had been at Malfoy Manor as well and had confronted Miss Granger.”
“If she escaped him,” Percy said, “It would explain why he would try to capture her again.”
“If I give you a theory of mine,” Kingsley said, “Will you keep it quiet. Confidential? I will speak of it to those I feel need to know if the matters arise.”
“Yes, Minister,” Percy said, “Of course.”
“I do not think the Taboo is active,” Kingsley said.
“But Miss Granger said You-Know-Who's name!” Percy said, “And – and the Snatchers appeared.”
“Ah, let me amend my statement,” Kingsley said, “I do not think the Taboo is active for everyone.”
“Sir?” Percy said.
“Scabior confronted Miss Granger at Malfoy Manor,” Kingsley said. “I have reason to believe the Taboo is still active on her. A restricted Taboo... like a Trace, but only on the Tabooed word. You said the protective enchantments were down at Hogwarts, correct?”
“Yes,” Percy said, “To allow help in and out. Some of the injured were being escorted via Apparation to St. Mungo's at the time of the attack. There were a few people on watch, but we never expected --”
“-- didn't expect them to Apparate right inside the Great Hall,” Kingsley finished, “Yes. I have to wonder... if Miss Granger said the Tabooed word before that moment – would it have worked?”
“You mean it was activated then?” Percy asked, “Why?”
“Activated or simply ignored until then,” Kingsley said, “I think it could be assumed that Hermione would have wanted to help clean up Hogwarts. The Snatchers could have waited until they thought she was inside the castle – in order to heighten their attack.”
“It does seem like a strategy they would use,” Percy said.
“Yes,” Kingsley said, “However we can only guess until the Aurors interrogate the Snatchers.”
“So –“ Percy said, rather breathlessly, “So you believe Miss Granger is a target of these Snatchers?”
“That is what I am going to find out,” Kingsley said, “I will ask John Dawlish to bring up Miss Granger's name to Scabior when he is being interrogated.”
“But,” Percy said, “Why would –?”
“She is close to Harry Potter,” Kingsley said, “A very good friend to him. If the Snatchers captured her, they could interrogate her, torture her for information – for example, they could have threatened her brother's life – there is a good chance she would lead them to Harry, if captured. After yesterday's actions, I believe Harry is going to be a target of Snatchers and Death Eaters who are still out there.”
“But Ron and Ginny,” Percy said, “Ron's his best mate, and Hermione's fiancee, and Ginny – she's dating Harry as far as I know.”
“I would guess they are targets as well,” Kingsley said, “But of course – this is only if my theory is correct. We will not know until Scabior is interrogated.”
“It does sound like a good theory, Minister,” Percy said.
“Please do not speak a word of this to anyone,” Kingsley said, “ I will meet up with Miss Granger, Mr. Potter, and Ron and Ginny tomorrow after the funeral. I am sure they will attend.”
“Yes,” Percy said, “I'm sure they will too.”
“If Miss Granger does indeed still have the Taboo on her, and her alone,” Kingsley said, “I will find a way to lift it. And I will also consider the protection detail for the four of them too. I know Miss Granger and Ron will be going to her house in Oxford to take care of her brother in a couple of days. I am sure that will already be a heavy burden on them.”
“I know Ginny will remain at the Burrow until the new term at Hogwarts starts in September,” Percy said, “Perhaps we can convince Harry to remain there as well. The Burrow is highly protected, and will be more-so with protection detail.”
“Yes, I agree,” Kingsley said, “You are dismissed for now. I expect you back here for your new job in one week.”
“I'll be back here in less than a week if I can,” Percy said, standing up, “I'll see you at Hogwarts tomorrow, Minister.”
Percy bowed slightly, and Kingsley bowed in return. Percy walked over to the door, then looked back at Kingsley.
“Sir,” Percy said, “If I may ask one more question.”
“Yes?” Kingsley asked.
“Because Harry Potter seems to still be a target,” Percy said, “Does this mean the Second War is not over?”
“I am not sure how to answer that, Mr. Weasley,” Kingsley said.
Percy frowned. “Of course, sir.”
He then left the Minister's office.
Kingsley stared at the closing door. Percy Weasley was right. The Second War was indeed not over. Not as long as this threat of Snatchers and Death Eaters were around. And with Harry Potter, widely known as the Hero of the Second War”, a target once again... Kingsley wondered if a new threat, unknown to him and the Ministry, was rising.
Kingsley sighed audibly and sank back into his chair. This was not how he imagined starting his term as the Minister of Magic.
So is Kingsley right? Does Hermione still have the Taboo activated around her? Are Hermione, Harry, Ron and Ginny still targets? And is there a new threat to the wizarding world?
Fred's Funeral takes place next chapter! I was going to have the information about the interrogation with Scabior in the next chapter as well, but it would interfere with the emotions of Fred's funeral. It can wait until Chapter 3. I have a rather unique way of showing the interrogation and letting the main characters know about it. Should be fun!
Unfortunately I am keeping Hermione's brother, Matthew, a Muggle. I know Colin and Dennis Creevey were both Muggleborn wizards, but it has been said it is very rare when two or more Muggleborn siblings are witches/wizards (Lily a witch and Petunia not, for example). I thought really hard about this, I truly did.
Feedback goes here:
Last edited by Fury; February 3rd, 2012 at 6:28 pm.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
The Last Laugh
Author's Note: Time to answer a question already!
Q: What did Scabior mean about his prize? I thought that Bellatrix promised Hermione to Greyback not Scabior?
A: This will – er – sorta be answered in Chapter 3. Lets just say Scabior had a bit of a wee obsession with Hermione ever since he met her in Malfoy Manor (in “What If?”)
Hermione stared at the ceiling of the Burrow's living room, as she lay on the couch. The to-do list she had been working on at Hogwarts was sitting on the coffee table nearby, though she hadn't done any more modifications.
It had been almost an hour since she had arrived at the Burrow with Ron, Harry, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley. Ron's mother had noticed that Hermione was still very shaken from the attempted kidnapping, so she sent Hermione off to get a bit of rest before the funeral, which would take place in a couple of hours. However, Hermione had insisted that she wanted to at least be updated on everything that was going on, so it had been compromised that she rest on the couch.
A few minutes after Hermione had arrived, Mr. Weasley had returned with George and Angelina. However, George had not stepped one foot in the house, and instead had been seen walking up to the barn across the plot, with Angelina hastily following him, trying to comfort him. It was obvious George still wanted to be alone, except for Angelina it seemed, and Hermione knew that his old bedroom would not have been the best choice because he had shared it with Fred.
“Ronald Weasley, you are quite filthy!” Mrs. Weasley's voice rang out from the kitchen, “March upstairs and get washed.”
“Of course I am filthy, Mum,” Ron said, “I've been digging the – well – I've been digging – I'll just leave it at that.”
Hermione frowned and felt a tear escape her eye. She knew Ron had been digging the hole for Fred's grave. Obviously it was difficult for him to talk about. Ron walked into the living room, and indeed looked quite filthy. His moody expression instantly brightened when he saw Hermione. She waved lightly.
“Where are Harry and Ginny?” she asked, “I thought they were helping you.”
“I had to do it myself,” Ron said, “because Ginny could only stick the shovel in the ground before she burst into tears and ran off out of the graveyard. Harry went to comfort her. I expect they're down by the lake. I need to wash up. I'll be back shortly.”
Hermione nodded. Ron disappeared up the stairwell. Hermione saw Mrs. Weasley pacing around in the kitchen, and the next moment, she broke down into tears and collapsed into a chair. Hermione felt helpless as she watched Mr. Weasley comfort his wife. Seeing Mrs. Weasley cry only made her cry. Mrs. Weasley was such an innocent, kind soul, and she had been put through so much recently. Months of worry when Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Harry had gone on the hunt for the Horcruxes, and everything leading up to the loss of Fred. But she had also been put through so much in the Battle of Hogwarts, including when she dueled and killed Bellatrix Lestrange, while defending Ginny, Luna and Hermione.
The thought of Bellatrix Lestrange only brought memories back to Hermione: when she found out her parents were dead, on Halloween; when she was tortured by Bellatrix in Malfoy Manor and found out during the torture that Bellatrix had been responsible for the murder of her parents; training at Shell Cottage during the month of April in hopes that she would battle Bellatrix Lestrange using the woman's own wand and, for a while, hoping that she would be the one responsible for Bellatrix's death.
Three pops of Apparation, separated by one second each, split the air. Hermione heard footsteps rushing down the stairwell as Ron, naked from the waist up, his wand in his hand, rushed onto the bottom floor. Hermione stood up and walked toward the kitchen, but Ron stood in front of her, guarding her from what he probably thought was some kind of opposition.
“It's okay!” Mr. Weasley said, looking through the window of the kitchen, “It is just Bill, Fleur and Percy back from the Ministry.”
Ron and Hermione followed Mr. Weasley outside. Mrs. Weasley remained at the table, her shivering hands wrapped around a cup of tea.
“How did it go, Bill?” Mr. Weasley asked, when they met up at the end of the driveway..
“Everything has been settled,” Bill said, “Members of the Ministry will bring Fred here in a couple of hours. Pallbearers, I guess.”
“I cannot believe zey would not let us do eet,” Fleur said, “Very disrespectful of ze Ministry 'aving to interfere in zese proceedings. We are very capable of bringing Fred 'ere ourselves.”
“The Ministry is just wanting to do their part, Fleur,” Bill said.
“If zey wanted to do zer part,” Fleur said, “Zey would 'ave 'elped us fight een ze Battle of 'Ogwarts!”
“Calm down, Fleur,” Bill said, “We're all on edge right now.”
“Fleur, could you see if Molly needs any help?” Mr. Weasley asked, “She's very distraught at the moment, as you can understand.”
“Oui, Arthur,” Fleur said, then disappeared into the Burrow.
“Percy,” Mr. Weasley said, “Did you talk to Kingsley?”
“Yes,” Percy said, “Unfortunately I cannot discuss too many matters of the our conversation. The Minister wants to speak to Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny tomorrow after the funeral at Hogwarts. Also, Auror John Dawlish is set to interrogate Scabior, and Kingsley has also promised to give us some details of the interrogation, by this evening, if they get any information about Hermione.”
“How are they going to get information?” Hermione asked, “If they use Veritaserum --”
“ – the answers given during the interrogation would not stand in front of the Wizengamot,” Percy finished, “Yes, I know. But if you want my opinion, Hermione, the crime for your attempted kidnapping is not what will send Scabior to Azkaban. His participation on the side of You-Know-Who in the Battle of Hogwarts as well as his crimes participating as a Snatcher will be enough.”
“The interrogation is only to get information,” Hermione said, nodding, “Not to press further charges.”
“Precisely,” Percy said.
“What about the Taboo?” Ron asked.
“Until we hear any further,” Percy said, “the Taboo is still active. Again, Kingsley has theories, but he wishes to speak to you about such theories himself. Speaking of the Minister... Father, I have some good news for you.”
“Yes?” Mr. Weasley said.
“You do not need to meet with Kingsley today,” Percy said, “He discussed the matters with me. Effective immediately, you are the official Head of the Muggle Liason Office... if you accept of course.”
“Congratulations, Dad,” Bill said, and Ron and Hermione nodded.
“I – I don't know what to say,” Mr. Weasley said, blush forming across his cheeks, “Of course I'll accept the position.”
“Kingsley also named me his Junior Undersecretary,” Percy said, “I will be working for the new Senior Undersecretary, Albert Runcorn.”
“Wonderful news, son,” Mr. Weasley said, “Congratulations.”
“Thank you, Father,” Percy said, “If you excuse me, I must prepare for the – for the funeral.”
“I should go find Harry and Ginny,” Hermione said, “Er – Ron – weren't you going to wash up?”
“Oh, yes, I forgot,” Ron said, looking down at his shirtless, filthy chest, “Sorry.”
He blushed and returned inside the Burrow. Hermione headed for the lake on the edge of the plot and fifteen minutes later, she found Harry and Ginny sitting on the end of the dock. Ginny's head was on Harry's shoulder and they were staring out toward the lake. Hermione's footsteps alerted them and Harry swung around, pointing his wand toward her. She rolled her eyes and Harry frowned.
“Sorry,” he said, replacing his wand in his robes, “Still on edge.”
“You're forgiven,” Hermione said.
She sat down next to Harry, and he and Ginny looked at her questioningly.
“Bill, Fleur and Percy are back from the Ministry,” Hermione said. “Ministry officials will be bringing Fred here shortly before the funeral is scheduled to start.”
“Did Percy find out anything from Kingsley?” Ginny asked, obviously wanting to quickly change the subject.
“Kingsley wants to speak to us and Ron personally after the funeral tomorrow,” Hermione said, “But as far as I can tell, the Taboo is still active. An Auror is interrogating Scabior – right now, I guess – and from what Percy said, if Scabior mentions anything about us, we can expect owl post this evening, perhaps from Kingsley himself.”
“I thought this was over, damn it!” Harry said, “I thought after You-Know-Who was defeated, we could live our lives.”
“It hasn't been been twenty-four hours since his defeat, Harry,” Hermione said, “Death Eaters and Snatchers are still on the run obviously. You-Know-Who may be gone, but I don't think the Second War is over until his followers are stopped.”
“Exactly what I've been telling him all day,” Ginny said, “But he won't listen.”
Hermione's eyes traveled between Harry and Ginny. Until now, she thought the reason for Harry and Ginny's distance away from everyone had been the same reason as George: the loss of Fred had been too much for them. Now she knew better. Harry's mind was on the Second War, and Ginny was trying to comfort him – though Hermione suspected Ginny was also trying to keep her mind off Fred.
Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione saw something sticking out of Harry's robes, and Hermione recognized it instantly. She narrowed her eyes and looked up at him.
“Harry!” she growled, “Why is the Elder Wand still in your posession?”
“Relax, Hermione,” Harry said, “I am going to put it back where it belongs. I just haven't gotten around to it. My mind has been on everything else: Teddy, your brother – and then the clean-up and the Snatchers --” he looked at Ginny – “and Fred of course.”
Ginny sniffled and buried her face in Harry's shoulder.
“Sorry, Gin,” Harry said, with a sigh, then looked back at Hermione, “I just haven't gotten around to it, Hermione. Besides, I have to do it in secret. Every time I tried to get a chance today, someone was at the graveyard digging another six-foot hole of dirt. So I'll do it after the funeral, when everyone is away from the graveyard.”
“Probably a good idea,” Hermione said, “I mean – you did something pretty stupid yesterday, you know.”
“What's that?” Harry asked.
“You spoke up about the Elder Wand to all of the witnesses in the Great Hall before your duel with him, Harry,” Hermione said, “Someone is going to figure it out. How powerful that wand is, how to acquire it, what it can do and so on. As the owner of the Elder Wand, you have to be careful, Harry.”
“Don't worry, Hermione,” Harry said, “Between you, me, Ginny and Ron, I'm sure we can put enough protection on Dumbledore's grave to protect the wand.”
“Oh, sure, we can protect the wand, Harry,” Hermione said, “But the fact that you're the owner of it still puts you in danger.”
“Can't we just snap it?” Ginny asked, “Nobody could use it then.”
“The wand was made by Death, Ginny,” Harry said, “I doubt it will be that easy to get rid of.”
“You're still believing the Hallows were made by Death?” Hermione asked.
“The Ressurection Stone exists,” Harry said. “I used it, remember? Can something like that be made by the hands of a wizard? Bringing back the dead, if only in spirit? That is much worse than making Horcruxes. It was obviously made by Death. And if it was, the Elder Wand was too.”
“And you dropped the Ressurection Stone in the Forbidden Forest?” Hermione asked.
“It is a pebble in a group of pebbles in a humongous forest, Hermione,” Harry said, “I don't think anyone will find it. I don't think any of those Questers are going to walk into the Forbidden Forest looking for a stone.”
“Why are you curious about the Stone?” Ginny asked, “You're not going to go look for it, are you, Hermione?”
“No!” Hermione scoffed, “I have no wish to speak to my dead parents.”
“So you haven't once, since you found out about Matthew this morning,” Ginny said, “thought about what you would say to your parents about him?”
“Of course I have!” Hermione exclaimed, “But I have no wish to talk to them using the Stone.”
“Harry talked to his parents,” Ginny said, “And he didn't decide to go the way of Cadmus Peverell.”
“And you are okay, Harry?” Hermione asked.
“Peachy,” Harry said, sarcastically.
“I rest my case,” Hermione said.
“What did you expect?” Ginny asked, “Nobody is okay at the moment. At least nobody around here.”
“You're right,” Hermione said, “It was a dumb question.”
“I know what you meant,” Harry said. “I've had other things on my mind since I used the Stone. I haven't thought much about it. I'm trying not to think about it.”
“That isn't healthy,” Hermione said, “Just like how everyone is trying to avoid the topic of Fred.”
“That isn't fair, Hermione,” Ginny said, “How much did you talk about your parents after they died? If I remember correctly, any thought about them sent you away in tears – it took you weeks to get over it --”
“I'm not completely over it, Ginny,” Hermione said, “I'm just trying to move on.”
“How can you expect us to move on so quickly then?” Ginny demanded, “It hasn't even been a full day!”
“I-I don't, Ginny,” Hermione said, a bit frightened at Ginny's tone, “I didn't mean that. But – I just think --”
Ginny put up her hand to stop Hermione, and she stood up. She walked halfway across the dock and turned back to Hermione.
“I don't know about the rest of my family,” Ginny said, “But I'm trying to keep an ounce of my sanity before the funeral comes around. That is less than two hours from now.”
“I just think you need to talk about this,” Hermione said, “About him.”
“We're talking about it now, aren't we?” Ginny asked.
“Not exactly calm conversation,” Hermione said.
“Well if you don't like the conversation,” Ginny said, “don't ask me to bring it up!”
Tears sparkled in her eyes.
“Damn it, Hermione,” she said, “He was my brother! You have a brother now. You should understand how I am feeling.”
“Of course I understand, Ginny,” Hermione said, frowning, “If anything happened to him, I'd – well --”
Hermione inhaled and shook her head, refusing to complete her thought.
Ginny, however, knew what Hermione was thinking. “Exactly! You can't even think about that, can you? You obviously know what I am going through. So please don't expect me to say too much about my brother this soon. It is going to take all I have in me to say a few words at the funeral – which I am going to attempt so I can look brave for my family. Now... if you excuse me, I'm going back to the Burrow to get ready. Are you coming with me, Harry? Want to come with me?”
“I'll meet up with you soon,” Harry said.
“Yeah, okay,” Ginny said.
She glared at Hermione, then turned and headed off in the direction of the Burrow. Hermione frowned and felt tears in her eyes. She cupped her hands in her face and sniffled.
“This is my fault,” Hermione said, “I shouldn't have brought it up with her.”
“No, it isn't your fault,” Harry said, “More like mine.”
Hermione looked at Harry though her fingers.
“I've been trying to avoid the conversation with her all day,” Harry said. “You're right. That is really unhealthy. But I was trying to talk about other things. My future with her, what we can look forward to with Teddy and our own lives. The good things, you know. I tried not to bring up Fred or the attempted kidnapping or the Battle of Hogwarts. I shouldn't have done that.”
“I feel so distant from everyone, Harry,” Hermione said, “Even Ron. I know everyone sees me as a part of this family, even before I get married to Ron. Heck, Ron's mother even allowed me to call her by her first name.”
Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“I know!” Hermione said, chuckling, “And then there is times like this. Where I don't feel close at all. I've known Fred for almost seven years. Seven years come September. But that is nothing compared to Fred's own family. I just feel – if I wasn't here to support Ron through all of this, I'd either go to Oxford to get things prepared at my house, or I'd go back to Andromeda's house to visit Matthew. I feel like I'm a stranger today. Does that make sense?”
“Perfect sense,” Harry said, “If it wasn't for Ginny, and the fact that I want to avoid too much – er – publicity – I'd go back to Hogwarts and help with clean-up. But we're not due back there until we have to go for the funeral.”
“Ugh,” Hermione said, “I don't know how I'm going to be able to handle two funerals in two days. Before I said the Taboo, I was working on notes and ideas for my house in order to prepare for Matthew. But now I can't even look at my notes. I haven't even given too much thought about it since then. Yes, I'm still planning on going to my house with Matthew and Ron. But I can hardly think about that right now.”
“Then don't,” Harry said, “Get through the next couple of days without putting too much focus on Matthew. By then we'll know more about the attempted kidnapping and what is happening. And then you and Ron can focus on moving Matthew into your house. I'll help you – and I'm sure Ginny will too – if you want us too. If only to get things ready for him.”
“Sure,” Hermione said, “That would really help.”
Hermione's eyes traveled to her engagement ring. It had been her mother's at one point. The ring that Richard Granger had proposed to Helen with. Ron had found it in Hermione's house when they were staying there temporarily during the month of February, and had proposed to Hermione with it on his birthday.
“Bloody Taboo,” Hermione muttered.
“Come again?” Harry asked.
“First the Snatchers interfere with Ron proposing to me because he accidentally said You-Know-Who's name,” Hermione said, “And now they try to kidnap me all because of an innocent conversation with Ron.”
“If I didn't know better, Hermione,” Harry said, with a grin, “I'd say they were trying to break up your relationship with Ron.”
Hermione chuckled. “That's just bloody mental, Harry.”
“And if it was true?” Harry asked.
“The Snatchers would have to deal with me first,” Hermione said, “Nobody crosses me when it comes to Ron. Nobody.”
An hour-and-a-half later, Ron and Hermione were standing outside the Burrow. After her conversation by the lake with Harry, Hermione had returned to the Burrow and taken a shower, then changed into the most appropriate outfit she could find in her belongings for the funeral. Ron was in the silver and black robes he had worn to Bill's wedding, a gift from Bill. Hermione considered this an odd choice, before she realized this was probably his best outfit he owned.
In the distance, near the start of the driveway, Mr. Weasley, Bill, and Percy, waiting for the pallbearers to arrive. All three of them were clothed in dress robes. Mrs. Weasley had retreated upstairs almost an hour ago and hadn't come down since. Ginny and Harry were still getting ready as well. Nobody knew where George was, and if Angelina had any clue, she wasn't saying anything. She and Fleur were working on the post-funeral meal.
Then five separate, instantaneous pops of Apparation were heard at the start of the driveway, followed by one more. The noise caused Ron to clutch Hermione's hand and squeeze it tightly.
“It's okay, Ron,” Hermione whispered, “It is just the pallbearers.”
Five men in Ministry robes, one wizard looking more lavish than the others, were standing near the three Weasleys at the start of the driveway. Then Hermione saw a wooden casket, that seemed to be painted in silver and gold, floating between four of the men. One of the men said something and the other four took hold of the casket. Mr. Weasley motioned to Bill and Percy, and they started off across the field, with the pallbearers in tow, in the direction of the Weasley Family Graveyard.
“Oh, Merlin,” a small voice said behind Hermione.
Hermione looked over her shoulder and saw Ginny there, standing with Harry, their hands clutched together. Ginny's eyes followed the casket as the pallbearers carried it. Hermione turned back to Ron, and saw that he was looking in the direction of the driveway, where Mr. Weasley and the lavishly-dressed wizard were walking toward them. Hermione noticed that Mr. Weasley looked upset about something.
“What's going on, Dad?” Ron asked, his eyes on the wizard beside Mr. Weasley.
“Mr. Wyck will be leading the service,” Mr. Weasley said.
“But I thought you were doing that,” Ginny said.
“Plans have changed,” Mr. Weasley said.
Hermione could tell Mr. Weasley was not happy about this at all. Mr. Weasley walked into the Burrow, and Mr. Wyck looked at the four of them for a moment, then started off toward the graveyard. Angelina stepped out of the Burrow and her eyes went directly on the retreating figure of Mr. Wyck.
“Oh, Merlin,” Angelina muttered, “No... anyone but him.”
“What's wrong?” Ron asked.
“He was the man who led mine and George's wedding,” Angelina said, “George is not going to be happy about this.”
Angelina scoffed and headed across the field in the direction of the barn.
“I guess we better go to the graveyard,” Hermione said.
Ron squeezed Hermione's hand and she looked up at him. He nodded and they set off across the lot toward the graveyard.
“Why is the Ministry so suddenly interested in funeral services?” Harry asked, as he and Ginny followed them.
“Because they're bloody hypocrites, the load of them,” Ron said, “Not Kingsley, of course. I hope he sets things right as Minister. They have no right interfering with personal matters like this. This was supposed to be private.”
Hermione opened her mouth to speak up, but when the Weasley Family Graveyard came into view, she fell silent. Hermione had been to this graveyard once before. Mad-Eye Moody had considered the Weasleys and the rest of the Order his only family, and after he was killed while escorting Harry out of Surrey, it was considered most appropriate that he would be laid to rest in the Weasley Family Graveyard. Hermione never expected to have to go through another funeral in this Graveyard so soon after the last, but here they were.
Ron gripped Hermione's hand, and she heard him murmur slightly under his breath. Her eyes then traveled over to what he must have seen. Fred's casket was floating above a large hole in the ground, and the four pallbearers were standing off to the side. Fred would be buried near his Great Uncle Billius. Bill was on the other side of the graveyard, pacing along other graves and Percy was talking to Mr. Wyck in quiet conversations.
“Whose idea was it to put the grave there?” Hermione asked.
“Mine – Dad told me to pick a spot,” Ron said, “Fred was very much like Uncle Billius. He would be happy to be near him.”
“Very appropriate, yes,” a voice said behind them.
Hermione turned and found Charlie Weasley standing there. Hermione could see a burn scar on his chin, a recent injury, because it hadn't been there when Charlie was one of the best men at Bill's wedding. Ginny released her grip from Harry's hand and walked over to Charlie and hugged him. Hermione could hear her crying against Charlie's shoulder.
“Shh, Ginny,” Charlie said, soothingly, “It's okay. Hi, Ron, Hermione, Harry.”
Ron nodded his head once in acknowledgment, but kept close to Hermione. Hermione smiled at Charlie, but she noticed Harry hadn't taken his eyes off the casket.
“It is kind of bad to bring this up during something like this,” Charlie said, “But Ron, Hermione, congratulations on your engagement.”
“Thank you, Charlie,” Ron said, and Hermione smiled.
Ginny backed away from her brother and returned to her spot next to Harry.
“I'm sorry I wasn't there at the battle,” Charlie said. “Maybe things would be different if I was.”
“He was with family when it happened,” Percy said, as he walked over to Charlie and hugged him, “With George and Angelina and myself. Cracking jokes just minutes before.”
“Then he was happy,” Charlie said, “That is all that matters.”
Behind Charlie, Hermione saw Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Fleur approach. George and Angelina were walking toward the graveyard as well; George's gaze was on the ground at the moment.
“Gather round everyone,” Wyck said.
Hermione motioned to walk forward, but Ron stopped her. She raised her eyebrows questioningly, and he motioned toward the ground. She realized Ron didn't want to move from that spot. The rest of the Weasleys, and Harry, walked closer to the casket. Mr. Wyck nodded toward the pallbearers, and the four wizards raised their wands. Fred's casket gently descended into the grave. Hermione felt tears in her eyes and she heard Mrs. Weasley, Ginny and Angelina crying quietly already.
Hermione looked around at the outfits the Weasleys were dressed in. All neutral, dark colors mostly. Black and silver and grey. Funeral colors. But this seemed so wrong. Fred lived a cheery life. Everything about his funeral was bland and boring. They were standing on dirt, surrounded by graves and Ministry workers who should not have been there. Hermione may have only known Fred for almost seven years... but she knew this was not what Fred would have wanted.
“We are gathered here to remember Frederick Gideon Weasley,” Wyck said, “A loving son, brother and friend to everyone he knew.”
Hermione stared at Wyck. His voice was almost a drawling sound, as if he was reciting something he had read many times before, and just adding the appropriate words in to suit Fred.
“Twenty years is too few to spend in this world,” Wyck continued. “To spend with family that he loved and loved him. Arthur and Molly Weasley, I grieve with you and hope you understand when I say that no parent should have to bury their children. It should be considered a taboo in itself and --”
“Wait,” George said, raising a hand to stop Mr. Wyck, “I'm sorry, Mum, Dad, everyone. But I must interrupt you, Mr. Wyck. You met my brother once... at my wedding. Once in his twenty years and one month of life. Is this correct?”
“That is correct,” Mr. Wyck said.
“Then you do not know him,” George said, shaking his head. “You do not know who my brother was. You should not speak to me, my family or friends like you do. My brother deserves so much better than that. He will be remembered by everyone here for making them laugh. For making them happy. I don't see a happy face here right now. If he was here with us, I know what he would want. But what my brother would not want... is his funeral to be led by someone whose voice could depress a Dementor.”
Hermione thought she heard Ron chuckle lightly beside her, but she wasn't sure. She did however see Charlie and Bill grin nearby, and even Percy had a hard time suppressing a grin.
“Fred was known as a lot of things,” George said. “Yes, he was a son, a brother, a friend. But he was also known as George Weasley's better half – even after I fell in love with this lovely woman standing next to me. He was known as one of the best Beaters that Hogwarts had ever seen. The young man who, along with myself, tried to fool the Age Line during the Triwizard Tournament, and even though we failed, we got a fair few laughs from our peers, exactly what he wanted. He was the co-owner of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, our brainchild, which he enjoyed being a part of every day, because it was what he lived for. ”
George motioned a hand toward Harry.
“Even though Harry was a target of You-Know-Who,” George said, “My brother did everything he could to help him. He was a member of Dumbledore's Army, where he rebelled against the likes of Dolores Umbridge, standing up against her treasonous ways, and against your Ministry. He hosted PotterWatch... it was his creation even though Angelina and I were a part of it. It was his idea because he wanted to help Harry. I even remember telling him once we had no way of knowing if Harry was even listening, and Fred insisted on naming the show PotterWatch, in Harry's name, even if there was a chance Harry would never know about it. He had no hesitation to go to Hogwarts yesterday. He stood up against You-Know-Who and his followers, and even though it led to his death, he did it anyway. He died with a joke on his mind, a laugh on his lips, and a heart big enough to defend two of his brothers, his sister-in-law and the castle he loved. Our hearts go out to him, but I see no jokes or laughs here. That is not what my brother would have wanted.”
He looked down toward the casket, then back up to Mr. Wyck.
“I don't want to hear words from a man who knew nothing about him,” he continued. “There are others here who knew all about him. He deserves their words more than he deserves yours.”
George looked around at his family. Bill cleared his throat and everyone looked at him.
“I don't know how I can top that,” he said, “But I will try my best. I will say this for Fred... he is the reason I didn't have a bachelor party before my wedding. Because I knew that Fred would have made me late for my own wedding. I did not make Fred a best man for my wedding, because he would have out-shined the groom, and even though that is one of the worst possible things you can do during a wedding, he would have done it without knowing he did. Because that is who he was. He could cause laughter and joy in anything he did. My wedding was a joyous occasion, but I wouldn't have been able to top that. I only wish I could have seen him get married, because I would have done anything to see what ruckus he would have caused even with his bride there. But, as depressing as it sounds, I'm sure we can be happy thinking about what might have been.”
Bill looked at Charlie and he smiled.
“I may have not been around for too many family get-togethers these past few years,” Charlie said, “But in recent memory, I have to go as far back as the Quidditch World Cup. I will never ever know, even if you told me George, how you and Fred were able to accurately predict the final of the match, down to how it would end.”
“That was all Fred,” George said, “I just went along with it.”
“But it showed me how even the craziest ideas Fred could have,” Charlie said, “Would prove to be of some worth. That is what I'll always remember about him.”
Charlie looked at Percy, who adjusted his glasses and stared at the casket.
“It is funny that George would describe the start of this funeral, in not so expressive words, as bland and boring,” Percy said. “Because that is what was on the mind of Fred minutes before he died. We were in the biggest battle of the Second War, indescribable horror happening around us, and Fred considered it bland and boring. He was the kind of person who would want to be in the middle of things, and yet we were guarding a part of the castle and nothing was happening. He decided to try to think of a poem that would describe the battle. But everything seemed so off about it. Nothing seemed to echo the battle for what it was. But... if he were to have finished the poem and I read it years from now... I would have believed his words to be the actual recollection of the battle, even if I was there in the middle of it, just because of how wonderful it sounded coming from him. Even in the middle of battle, he was trying to make me laugh. And I am happy that the last thing he heard from me was something that made him laugh – instead of the usual boring drawl that I am known for.”
Percy looked at Ron, and Hermione felt Ron's hand squeeze tightly against hers. She squeezed it gently in return and Ron cleared his throat.
“Because I am the youngest brother,” Ron said. “Fred always wanted to play jokes on me. He transfigured my teddy bear into a spider and scared the wits out of me. He and George also tried to make me do an Unforgivable Vow once before Mum caught them. But out of all the jokes he played on me, I have to thank him for one. Even though I was angry at him for doing it, the joke he played led me to admit my feelings for Hermione.”
Hermione blushed and grinned.
“I don't think I ever thanked him enough for that,” Ron said, “So thank you, Fred. You don't know how much that meant to me.”
Ron looked at Ginny, who sniffled once and cleared her throat.
“I could talk about many things Fred has done for me over the years,” Ginny said. “But I will go with a couple of the most recent memories. First for letting me work at the shop, and giving me that chance to be a part of it all. And then there was Potter Watch. PotterWatch got me through a lot of things when we were in the middle of camping these past few months Even though there were only a few episodes, just hearing Fred's voice and George's voice was so uplifting. And even though he was doing his best to keep it anonymous so nobody would really know who he was talking about, he made sure to let Ron and I know everyone was okay, and you were supporting us. So thank you, Fred... Rapier. I will never forget that.”
Hermione listened as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley spoke of their son. Long speeches and memories about him. And even though both of them were emotional and near tears, they were strong enough to get through it. Then Fleur and Angelina and Harry spoke up, and while she listened, Hermione couldn't think of any words to say to Fred. She knew him for almost seven years, but she realized she didn't know enough about him to say anything too special about him. Ron had already said part of what she wanted to say... how Fred and George's tricks when they jokingly tried to kidnap Hermione, while Ron tried to give himself up instead... and how it resulted in the two of them admitting their feelings to each other. That was one of the best things Fred had ever done for her. But even then, she couldn't find many words to make his memory mean something for her. And that is what she told him...
“I can't find anything to say about you, Fred,” she said. “Everyone else has said so many wonderful things and it has left me speechless. That is what you've left me, Fred... speechless. Of course... to those who know me... like Ron and Harry and your family. I'm sure they would say that to leave me speechless would be the highest compliment I could ever give you, since usually I have many words to say about things. So I guess I can just say thank you for everything. For making me laugh and enjoy every sad day when you made it happier. Thank you.”
As per Weasley family tradition, Harry, Hermione and the extended Weasley family filled in one shovelful of dirt by hand, in honor of the man Fred was. And then the rest was filled in my magic, to honor the wizard he was. Red roses were then summoned and put down over the mound of dirt. A large rock was found and Fred's name and date of birth and death were added. George was the one to add the epitaph, and it made everyone smile and chuckle as they read it. The epitaph read:
I got the last laugh.
The funeral was slightly difficult to write, but I hope you enjoyed it.
Next chapter is Scabior's interrogation and possibly the large funeral at Hogwarts. Depends on how much I do with the interrogation.
Last edited by Fury; February 3rd, 2012 at 3:25 am.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Author's Note: Some people are rather disappointed that I did not add in Harry's dedication during the funeral. The only reason I did not do that was not because it wasn't important. It would have been very important and uplifting to the family. I just couldn't think of anything he could have said. I wanted it known that he did say something, but I couldn't think of anything. Everyone was giving memories of what Fred did, and the only thing I thought of at the time was how Fred had helped bring him from the Dursleys three times. It was important. It was – well – it was just a case of writer's block. My apologies.
The atmosphere around the Burrow had changed measurably since Fred's funeral had ended two hours ago. Hermione, Harry and the extended Weasley family all sat around one large picnic table that had been set outside the Burrow. They were enjoying a meal that consisted of all of Fred's favorite foods, in honor of him. Laughter and conversation could be heard from all around the table. The chatter consisted of happy memories and stories about Fred. This was what Fred would have wanted; not a bland and dreary dinner after his funeral, but a celebration of his life.
“ – had the Quaffle in my hand and the Slytherin Chasers were right on my tail,” Angelina was saying, “I mean – right on my broom-tail. Reckon they were trying to pull my broom back to intercept the Quaffle from me. And all of a sudden I see a Bludger coming my way, and I thought it was a Slytherin Beater who hit it, because it was coming for me. Well I was able to get out of its way just in time and the Bludger hit the Slytherin Chaser and allowed me to score ten points. I later found out it was a badly hit Bludger aimed by Fred and he had accidentally hit it in my direction instead of toward the Slytherin Chaser --”
“-- he told me it was deliberate toward the Slytherin Chaser!” George said, “That liar!”
Ron, Harry, Ginny and Charlie howled in laughter.
Angelina chuckled and nodded. “This was when I was Captain after Oliver graduated, so I was in charge of course. Even though we won the match, and even though I was Captain, Fred made me tell him to do laps around the Pitch because of the badly aimed Bludger. He was still apologizing to me for it at the wedding!”
“Weren't you and Fred still an item around that time?” Ginny asked, “Wasn't that during Umbridge's regime?”
“Yes,” Angelina said, blushing. “I broke it off with him because he didn't take me with him when he and George escaped Hogwarts on broomstick.”
“He never had one bad thing to say about my relationship with Angelina,” George said. “He was very happy for us. Even when Angelina started working at the shop.”
“Speaking of... what are you going to do about the shop?” Ron asked.
Hermione frowned as she recalled the day she had gone to Diagon Alley a couple months back and seeing Weasley's Wizard Wheezes ransacked and closed. It was still that way, she noticed, when she had made her way into Gringotts the previous day under the disguise of Bellatrix Lestrange.
“We're going to rebuild it,” Angelina said, “Over the next month.”
“We're not just going to rebuild,” George said, “After we get the Diagon Alley shop back up for business, we're going to try to expand the shop to different marketing villages.”
“More shops?” Mrs. Weasley asked, “Can you handle that?”
“It will be a bit difficult, Mum,” George said, nodding. “But it was one of Fred's last big ideas. It was all his idea – not mine. And I want to honor that. I'm actually going to work on buying out Zonko's by this time next year, and replacing the Hogsmeade shop with our own.”
“I'll help you with that, George,” Ron said.
“Me too,” Ginny said, “Until I go back to Hogwarts anyway.”
“Really, Ron?” Hermione asked, “I know you were talking about it, but --”
“Your parents' funds will only last so long,” Ron said. “This will help us. I mean – can you really afford to get a job at the moment? Even part time?”
“Not yet,” Hermione said, shaking her head, “I need to get used to being with Matthew.”
“I'll give you flexible hours, Ron,” George said, “I know Hermione and Matthew need you. We'll talk more about that over the next month.”
“Sure,” Ron said.
“What about your education, Ron?” Mrs. Weasley asked, “Your NEWTs? You missed a full term.”
“Professor McGonagall told me this afternoon,” Hermione said, “that she was allowing this year's seventh years,to go back to Hogwarts in December for a couple of weeks before Christmas Break to take the NEWT exams.”
“That's an option,” Ron said, nodding, “But honestly, Mum, I'm going to be helping Hermione take care of Matthew, and I don't need NEWTs to work at George's shop.”
“No NEWTs required,” George said.
“I have to wonder if Hogwarts is going to be fully up and running again in time for the next term,” Percy said, “It is going to take a load of effort to repair the school, especially with all the Dark Magic that place endured. Not to mention the psychological effect it will have on the students.”
“That is something for the Hogwarts Senators to decide,” Mr. Weasley said.
“The Ministry again,” Harry scoffed, “Two years in a row, Hogwarts' fate is decided on the Ministry's decision.”
Hermione frowned as she remembered what had happened the previous year. Before his death Rufus Scrimgeour had been intent on not reopening Hogwarts, and the only reason he, and then the Wizengamot after Scrimgeour's death, had allowed the school to reopen, was because Harry had agreed to go back, originally for both terms, but he had only gone for one.
“Kingsley will have plenty of say in it this time, I reckon,” Mr. Weasley said, “Depending on the rebuilding efforts, I think there is a good chance Hogwarts will reopen. I'm sure even Kingsley would put some time and effort into --”
Mr. Weasley was interrupted by Fleur's sudden gasps as she stood and pointed in the direction of the driveway. Hermione immediately saw what had alarmed her: something large and silver came bounding down the driveway toward the table. Hermione recognized it as a lynx Patronus.
“Do not be alarmed,” Kingsley's voice rang from the lynx, “There is no immediate danger. Two Aurors will be arriving shortly to hand-deliver a message from myself to Miss Granger. The letter will explain the situation and the two Aurors will answer any questions you may have. I will see you all tomorrow for the memorial at Hogwarts.”
The lynx disappeared, and before Hermione could even wonder what message Kingsley had for her, two instantaneous pops were heard from the direction of the driveway. Mr. Weasley and Bill immediately left the table, and walked in the direction of the two men.
“This must be about Scabior,” Harry said, “The results from the interrogation.”
“What did Kingsley mean by 'no immediate danger'?” Hermione asked.
“Isn't it obvious?” Ron asked. “If Kingsley only wanted to give you a letter, it could have arrived by owl-post. The Aurors are here for other reasons.”
“Ron is correct,” Percy said, “Kingsley did say we may be having some protection detail here at the Burrow.”
“Protection detail?” Mrs. Weasley said, “Why?”
“I'm sure the Aurors will answer that question better than I could, Mum,” Percy said.
Hermione frowned. She knew that, without a doubt, this had to do with the attempted kidnapping. Ron gripped her hand a bit tightly, and she looked at him. He raised his eyebrows in silent question and she shook her head and smiled, hoping he wouldn't know she was worried.
She turned and saw Mr. Weasley, Bill and two men walking toward the table. The two men were wearing Auror robes, one of them was noticeably taller than the other, though he was not as chiseled as the other. The taller man wore a thin, black soldier-style haircut on their head, and the other had a rather dark shade of red hair that reached his shoulders.
“Our apologies for interrupting what seems to be a delightful dinner,” the taller Auror said, “My name is Jameson Thatcher, my partner-in-crime here is Franklin Bones.”
“Bones?” Hermione asked, “Any relation to Amelia and Susan?”
“Amelia's much younger brother and Susan's uncle,” Bones said, “You must be Hermione Granger.”
“We have a letter for you from Minister of Magic Shacklebolt,” Bones said, “concerning the Snatcher Scabior and the attempted kidnapping at Hogwarts. John Dawlish performed the interrogation and apologized he could not be here to talk to you about the interrogation himself, but if I am correct, we have a good substitute for it. Thatcher?”
Thatcher reached into his robes and pulled out an envelope then handed it to Hermione. Hermione took it and turned it over. The Minister's seal was pressed into the back of it.
“Tap your wand on the seal, Miss Granger,” Thatcher said, “It will only open for you.”
Hermione nodded and took her wand from her robes. She tapped the wand on the seal and it disappeared, and the envelope opened. She pulled out two pieces of folded parchment and unfolded the first. It was a letter from Kingsley Shacklebolt. She started to read it:
Miss Hermione Granger,
To begin, I want to say that I deeply regret I could not be at Hogwarts this afternoon when Scabior and his cohorts attacked and attempted to kidnap you. I do hope you were not harmed in any way and I wish you to know that I will do my best to make sure nothing like this ever happens to you again as long as I am Minister.
Attached to this letter is the recorded session, written with the aide of a Quick-Quotes Quill, of the interrogation between the Snatcher Scabior and Auror John Dawlish. I was watching these proceedings and some of the questions Auror Dawlish asked were of my own creation, in order to discover the heinous reasons why Scabior tried to kidnap you.
I ask that you read the recording now before you continue this letter. Everything below this line will explain in more detail what Scabior revealed to Auror Dawlish, as well as ways to rectify the situation.
Hermione put down the letter and unfolded the other piece of parchment. The recorded session was in the style of interviews she had seen in magazines before. She proceeded to read through it....
May 2nd, 1998 – Interrogation between Auror John Dawlish and Sylvester Scabior, Snatcher, concerning the failed attack and kidnapping attempt that took place in the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on the afternoon of May 2nd.
Kingsley Shacklebolt - British Minister of Magic
Gawain Robards - Head of the Auror Office
Note: Some parts of the interrogation are omitted for confidential reasons that have little or nothing to do with the attempted attack, or because the statements are too vulgar for public records.
Interrogator John Dawlish, Auror: The following is a recorded interrogation of one Sylvester Scabior, thought to be the leader of the group of criminals known as Snatchers. Scabior has been given a copious amount of Veritaserum, so as to be honest with the questions I will ask of him. It is also known that due to the use of Veritaserum, none of the obtained information can be used against him in front of the Wizengamot. This interrogation is taking place in hopes to stop Scabior's fellow Snatchers from doing bad deeds and to find out the motives behind today's attempted attack at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. To begin, I will ask a starter question, so as to test the Veritaserum. Criminal... what is your name and bloodline?
Criminal Sylvester Scabior, Snatcher: My name is Sylvester Scabior. I am a pure-blood.
Dawlish: That is the correct information we have with us. We will move on to business. Is the Taboo still in place in the wizarding world?
Scabior: That could be answered with a yes and a no.
Dawlish: Clarify please.
Scabior: The Taboo is no longer widespread as of early this morning. However, the Taboo has been placed on different targets around the wizarding world. Only those targets are affected by the Taboo.
Dawlish: Please name these targets.
Scabior: I only know of two: Hermione Granger, Muggle-born and Luna Lovegood, pure-blood.
Dawlish: Are there more targets than these two?
Scabior: Yes. But I have no knowledge of the other targets' identities.
Dawlish: How do you not know these names? You are the leader of the Snatchers. Don't you have say over who has the Taboo on them?
Scabior: That is not correct.
Dawlish: Which part?
Scabior: Both statements.
Dawlish: You are not the leader of the Snatchers? But you have, in the past, paraded the fact that you are the leader. Correct?
Scabior: Both statements are correct.
Dawlish: Who is the leader of the Snatchers?
Scabior: I do not know their name. I never met them. I only received post from them.
Dawlish: Was it not You-Know-Who?
Scabior: It was not. Our leader referred to themselves as Agent 314.
Dawlish: Agent? What do you mean by that?
Scabior: The Ministry of Magic coined the term Snatchers. Agent 314 referred to us as Agents.
Dawlish: So is there – or was there at one time – at least three-hundred-and-fourteen Agents in your group?
Scabior: No. Agent 314 is merely a nickname they desired. A pseudonym to hide their identity.
Dawlish: How did you target Hermione Granger?
Scabior: I met Granger in Wiltshire at the residence of Malfoy Manor. She was a beauty, even if she was just a Muggleborn.
[Scabior proceeds to further describe Hermione Granger using vulgar terms that have been censored in these reports. He also refers to confidential matters the Ministry will not give out in writing.]
Scabior: During our encounter, I proceeded to secretly, without Granger's knowledge, put a spell on her – the Taboo.
Dawlish: Why? It sounds like she was in your custody.
Scabior: She was a brilliant specimen. I had a feeling she might escape from me. I wanted to capture her later for my own personal reasons.
[Dawlish asks what Scabior's reasons are. The answers are too vulgar for these reports.]
Dawlish: I get your point. Was today's events a coincidental kidnap attempt or deliberate? Explain your answer.
Scabior: Deliberate. After the Battle of Hogwarts, it was assumed that Granger would stick around the castle to help with clean-up. I had decided that it was possible she might say the Tabooed word while there, and if she did, I could attack, and perhaps take a few unfortunate souls with me as well – those who deserve to die for the murder of the Dark Lord.
Dawlish: Are Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, or Ginevra Weasley considered targets of Agents?
Scabior: They are Desirables, as Agent 314 named them, but it was decided that Hermione Granger was the easiest to acquire. She was very brave when I met her in Wiltshire. It would have pleased me to see her suffer before acquiring the needed information about the Desirables.
Dawlish: Do Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, or Ginevra Weasley have the Trace on them?
Scabior: No. I have never met Ginevra Weasley, nor did I get close enough to Harry Potter. Ronald Weasley was not considered a threat because [the rest of the answer is confidential to the Ministry and will not be put down in writing.]
Dawlish: Did Agent 314 give you any indications as to why they would want you to target Harry Potter or his friends? Were they an ally of You-Know-Who?
Scabior: As far as I know, they were never associated with the Dark Lord. Harry Potter is a friend to Muggles, Muggle-born and Blood traitors, everything Agent 314 is against. Harry Potter and his friends were targets simply because they stand in the way of Agent 314, and their beliefs of a wizarding world where Muggle-born and Muggles have no presence or future.
Dawlish: Is Agent 314 associated with the group known as the Death Eaters?
Scabior: It was assumed the Dark Lord would be alive to control the Death Eaters. I have not heard from Agent 314 since the Dark Lord's defeat, so I cannot answer that with complete knowledge.
Dawlish: Are you aware if Agent 314 participated in the battle at Hogwarts or did they give you any indication that they would be a part of the battle?
Scabior: As far as I am aware of, Agent 314 did not have any participation in the Battle of Hogwarts.
Dawlish: So it can be assumed Agent 314 is still at large?
Dawlish: What can you tell me about Agent 314 from what they wrote in their letters to you? Are they the kind of person to lead a fight or to coordinate it and stay behind to watch? Are they smart... cunning? Give me characteristics.
Scabior: As far as I am aware, Agent 314 never participated in the capture of our victims. They always asked the Agents to do their dirty work. They have never given me any indication of whether they are an expert duelist or the kind to coordinate attacks. Agent 314 is quite smart and cunning and a very good strategist.
Dawlish: A strategist? And yet you attempted this kidnapping and attack in the Great Hall of Hogwarts knowing that you and your four fellow Agents were highly outnumbered and the risk of capture or death was very high. Why? Did Agent 314 tell you to do so?
Scabior: I repeat: I have not heard from Agent 314 since the battle took place. They told me to do anything necessary, even if it meant risking capture or death, to apprehend Hermione Granger. I thought the castle was weak and that the mission would be quick and simple. I was focused on my target and the thought that Agent 314 would reward me for such a capture.
Dawlish: Without the Taboo, is Agent 314 and the other Agents able to locate targets by any other means?
Scabior: Agent 314 considered the Taboo their most important tool to capture the targets. If they had other means of tracking and location, I was never given that information.
[Remaining questions and answers do not concern the failed attack at Hogwarts nor familiar targets.]
End of recording
Hermione handed the parchment to Ron, who had been looking over her shoulder while she was reading it, and she returned to Kingsley's letter....
If you have read the recorded interrogation, you will now know that the Taboo has been removed from most of the wizarding world except for a few selected targets. You and Luna are the only known targets at the moment that has the Taboo placed on them. I will be sending two Aurors very shortly (by the time you read the letter they may be there) to protect Harry Potter and the Weasley family at the Burrow. Two more Aurors have been assigned to protect Andromeda Tonks' house and your brother, Matthew, and their new assignment will be your Oxford home when you decide to move back into the house. Luna Lovegood will also have protection detail guarding her.
During the interrogation, we were able to extract the information regarding the way to counter the Taboo and remove it from you. The two Aurors at the Burrow will have complete knowledge about how to do this. Luna Lovegood is, at the moment, at Hogwarts, and I will remove the Taboo from her myself tomorrow.
The Aurors will also be able to answer certain questions, but I will answer many more if you will allow me to talk to you after the memorial tomorrow at Hogwarts. I will also explain more to Harry Potter and Ron and Ginny Weasley, since it seems they are also targets, though none have the Taboo on them.
Please know that you are in no immediate danger and that you may continue your plans as if nothing else has happened. The only difference is that you will be protected by Aurors. They will not interfere in your daily life. I know that you are focused on taking care of your brother, and I wish that you keep that focus. Do not fear these Agents and know that myself and the Auror office will do everything we can to stop them before they can do harm to you, your friends and the rest of the wizarding world.
Sincerely yours, your friend,
British Minister of Magic
Hermione folded up the letter and looked around at everyone. Their eyes were on her and Ron, who was still reading the recorded interrogation, his mouth open in a perfect O as he did so.
“So – only Hermione, Luna and these unknown targets have the Taboo placed on them?” Ron asked.
“The Taboo is no longer widespread across the wizarding world,” Bones said, “Miss Granger, if you will stand away from the table please? I will remove the Taboo from you. The magic is complex and I do not wish to harm your friends.”
“Harm?” Ron asked, looking from Auror Bones to Hermione.
“It will not hurt her,” Bones said, “I give you my word.”
Hermione gave Ron a look of reassurance and kissed him on the cheek to calm him. She stood up and walked over to Auror Bones. He removed his wand from his robes and looked at Hermione.
“When Scabior confronted you at Malfoy Manor, Miss Granger,” he said, “Did he touch you anywhere?”
Hermione nodded and pointed to her left cheek.
“That is the source of the Taboo in your body,” Bones said.
Bones moved his wand up and down in the direction of Hermione's face and closed his eyes. She heard him mutter a long incantation under his breath.
“ – Incantatem Deletrius Finite,” Bones finished, opening his eyes.
Hermione felt a cooling sensation move through her body.
“Thatcher, Potter, Weasleys?” Bones said, “Prepare yourself for any possible attack... just in case. Hermione, please say the Tabooed word.”
Hermione gripped her wand in her robes and closed her eyes. She inhaled and exhaled and looked at Ron.
“Voldemort,” she finally said.
A tense, collective inhale of breath was heard around the table, as everyone looked around for any possible sign of opposition. After a minute, nothing came.
“Miss Granger,” Bones said, “The Taboo is no longer on you.”
“Um.... thanks!” Hermione said.
She exhaled and sat down next to Ron. He clutched her hand in his. Meanwhile, Harry was reading the interrogation.
“ – 'Harry Potter is a friend to Muggles, Muggle-born and Blood traitors, everything Agent 314 is against. Harry Potter and his friends were targets simply because they stand in the way of Agent 314, and their beliefs of a wizarding world where Muggle-born and Muggles have no presence or future.' Agent 314 – lovely.”
“Why Three-Fourteen?” Ginny asked the Aurors, “Is that significant?”
“We could find no significance in the meaning,” Thatcher said.
“Oh, come on,” Hermione said, “Three-one-four are the first three numbers of Pi.”
“Pie?” Ron asked, “Wonder if Agent Tart is a fan Apple or Rhubarb?”
“P-I, Ronald,” Hermione said, “It is a mathematical equation that consists of at least five-hundred numbers.”
“Maybe that is the bloke's initials,” Ron suggested, “Like R.A.B?”
“So Hermione, Harry and Luna Lovegood are targets of this Agent?” Mr. Weasley asked.
“Ron and Ginny's names were also mentioned,” Harry said.
Mrs. Weasley gasped and put a hand to her mouth.
“You have nothing to fear, Mrs. Weasley,” Thatcher said, “Myself and Franklin are here as protection duty. It is understood that Miss Granger and your son, Ron, will be moving to Oxford before too long. They will also be under the highest protection possible.”
“My wards work around Hermione's house,” Ron said, “We've seen it in action.”
Hermione shuddered as she remembered when Ron's wards accidentally attacked Viktor Krum. Viktor had looked as if he had been severely sunburned and his lungs had been punctured. He would have died if Ron hadn't countered the wards' attack on Viktor.
“Wards work wonders, yes,” Bones said, “But we also know that Miss Granger's house is vulnerable. You will have expert Aurors, I promise you. The Minister promises you. Everyone, thank you for allowing our company. You have nothing to fear concerning these Agents as long as we are here. That is our promise as Aurors. Arthur, if we can talk to you about your family's wards and other concerns we may have regarding our protection duties?”
“Of course,” Mr. Weasley said.
Mr. Weasley led the two Aurors into the Burrow. Ron squeezed Hermione's hand under the table and she looked at him. He nodded toward the Burrow. Hermione nodded.
“Can we be excused, Mum?” Ron asked, “It has been a very long day and tomorrow is going to be long too.”
“Of course, Ronald,” Mrs. Weasley said, her eyes on the interrogation report, “Good night.”
“Night, Mum,” Ron said.
“Hermione, you can sleep in my old room tonight if you want,” George said, “Angelina and I are going back to our flat soon.”
“Do you have to?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
“I'll be fine, Mum,” George said, “I just can't sleep here tonight, okay? We'll be back for the memorial at Hogwarts.”
“Okay, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said, with a sigh, “Hermione, I'll set George's room up for you shortly.”
Hermione nodded and Harry and Ginny also said good night and excused themselves from the table. They followed Ron into the Burrow and were soon in Ron's bedroom. Ron and Hermione immediately sat down on Ron's bed.
“So,” Harry said, as he shut the door behind them, “I guess we can say without a doubt that the Second War is not over?”
“I guess not,” Ron said.
“Wonderful,” Harry said, sarcastically, “All I wanted was to start the rest of my nice, pleasant life and now --”
“There is no reason why we can't, Harry,” Hermione said, “Kingsley said we shouldn't see this as something interfering with our lives.”
“We're targets, Hermione,” Harry said, “Voldemort is gone and we're still targets.”
“And yet you had a pretty good life so far, haven't you?” Hermione asked, “Good enough to get by?”
“I suppose,” Harry said.
“Hermione's right,” Ginny said, “Fred wouldn't want us to live in fear after Voldemort was gone. He'd want us to move on with our lives even with these Agents around. What did you want to do after the war? After Voldemort was gone?”
“Live a quiet life for a while,” Harry said, “And then perhaps go into Auror training.”
“Would they accept you into Auror training without NEWTs?” Ron asked.
“Dunno, why?” Harry asked.
“Even though I promised George to help with the shop,” Ron said, “I was thinking of signing up for Auror training.”
“What about Matthew?” Ginny asked, looking at Hermione.
“I'd still help with that,” Ron said, “Besides, if I have to take NEWT exams – and there is a fat chance I'd do well on those – it would probably be nearly a year before I could apply. We have plenty of time to figure that out, right, Hermione.”
“I think it sounds like a wonderful idea,” Hermione said. “Yeah, we shouldn't worry about these bloody Agents. We'll still be alert – yes, we are targets – but that is something for the Ministry to worry about.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, “I've had enough of fighting for my life for a while. I need a holiday.”
“I hope that holiday has me in it,” Ginny said.
“Where else would you be?” Harry asked, “I'm keeping an eye on you until September.”
“Ugh,” Ginny said, frowning, “I can definitely wait for September. You three are so lucky to have the option of going back for two weeks or not at all.”
“We have loads of time before September comes around,” Harry said.
“Then how about we make the most of it,” Ginny said, putting her arms around Harry and kissing him.
“Ugh,” Ron said, “Go somewhere else if you want to do that. Er – wait on second thought. Stay out of my sister's room, Harry.”
“We won't do anything, Ron,” Ginny said, “Nothing that serious.”
“Unbreakable Vow, Harry?” Ron said, grinning, “Ow!”
Hermione had smacked Ron on the back of the head.
“I'm joking!” Ron said, “I trust you. But you better keep that trust.”
“Don't worry, mate,” Harry said, “I'll be back in here before Mrs. Weasley comes up to say good night.”
Ginny dragged Harry out of the room. Hermione looked at Ron, and without warning, he dragged her into a laying position on top of him. She chuckled and kissed him softly. Ron returned the kiss, and Hermione backed up and laid her head on his chest, as she looked up at him.
“Ah, it feels good to be back in my own bed,” Ron said.
“Only for tonight,” Hermione said, “Tomorrow after the memorial, we're going to set up things at my house. The wards and Matthew's room.”
“I wonder where Remus and Dora put the nursery stuff,” Ron said.
“Your Mum may know,” Hermione said, “Or Andromeda -- oh, bloody hell.”
“What?” Ron asked.
“Ron, do you think Andromeda is going to be at Hogwarts tomorrow?” Hermione asked, “For the memorial?”
“Of course,” Ron said, “For Dora and Remus. I imagine she'll bring Teddy along and – ohh. What about Matthew?”
“I could bring him to Hogwarts,” Hermione said. “But he's a Muggle baby, Ron. Even if he was taken to Andromeda's house via Apparation, I don't know if I could take him to Hogwarts. Muggles have to be told about Unplottable buildings – which means they have to understand it – in order to see it. How is Matthew going to understand that concept?”
“Hmm... I bet Mum and Dad would know some way around that,” Ron said.
“Maybe,” Hermione said, “Ugh. I am so unprepared for this. You and I were discussing our future – as recent as last night – before we found out about Matthew. I mean – we agreed to wait for a while to have children, right?”
“At least until we're married!” Ron said, chuckling, “But – yeah – now that we have Matthew to take care of --”
Hermione sighed. “I was hoping to focus on a career of some kind. And well.. now we're Matthew's guardian.”
“Maybe after a year or two you can have a career,” Harry said, “This isn't a total life-changing event. Besides, Mum and Dad can help out if you want a career before too long. I'm sure they'd love to watch Matthew sometimes. They're going to be grandparents before too long, especially if Bill and Fleur, or George and Angelina plan to have children soon. I'm sure they'd love the practice.”
“He's my responsibility, Ron,” Hermione said, “I can't subject them to that – especially after all of this.”
“Mum said she'd help us out,” Ron said.
“Maybe after a while,” Hermione said, “I need Matthew to get to know me. We'll see... maybe in December if I decide to take my NEWTs.”
“You need your NEWTs, Hermione,” Ron said, “Unless you plan on working at my brother's shop all your life.”
“No,” Hermione said, “I want to do other stuff. Perhaps get S.P.E.W set up sometime in the future.”
“Spew?” Ron said, “You're still on about that?”
“It is something I've wanted to do for a while, Ron,” Hermione said, “Please support that.”
“I'll think about it,” Ron said, “Just don't make me wear a badge.”
Hermione chuckled and leaned toward him and kissed him again. He returned the kiss and she rubbed her tongue against his lips. Ron rolled her over, and she chuckled as he moved his lips toward the soft skin on her neck and licked at it... one of her favorite things he did during these little bouts of intimacy.
She sighed in content as she lay there, feeling his lips against her skin, and she thought about her future with him and Matthew. But she couldn't get it out of her mind that she and Ron and her friends were targets of the Agents. She had a feeling this was not the last time she would be dealing with them... even if Kingsley had promised that the Aurors would handle it.
Oooh, I love this chapter so much! I loved writing the interrogation out. It was so much fun, especially when writing the introduction of the new foe, Agent 314.
Is Agent 314 a known character? Yes. They are a character that has been seen in the Harry Potter series.
I'm not sure how far I'm going to be taking this story, meaning if I will focus on just the Agents and Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny trying to live their lives while targets of Agents, or if I will go further than the Agent storyline. I might go into the Auror training in this story, and I have a good idea for the training... if I do, it will be a much different scenario than I did in “Butterfly Kisses” so I can have some originality with it.
Hope you liked this chapter! The Hogwarts Memorial is coming up next, along with the burial of the Elder Wand, and perhaps some introduction into some smaller story-lines with minor characters I'd like to get into as well.
Last edited by Fury; February 2nd, 2012 at 10:50 pm.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
The Hogwarts Memorial
Author's Note: It seems there was some confusion about the Taboo and how Harry, Ginny and Ron were also targets. Just because they did not have the Taboo on them, does not mean they aren't targets of the Agents. Hermione and Luna, and other unknown targets had the Taboo on them. Hermione and Luna had the Taboo placed on them because they were considered possible people that could lead the Agents to Harry. Now, were the unknown Taboo victims also given the Taboo for the same reason? Maybe... maybe not. Harry and Ginny were never close enough to Scabior to have the Taboo placed on them, and Ron's memory was gone at the time and he knew nothing about Harry to give information to Scabior. Scabior never considered him a possible lead at the time. Under Veritaserum, however, they were able to extract the means of the Taboo's removal from victims. So now Hermione does not have the Taboo on her.
Also, I decided to wait for Kingsley's discussion with Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny, and the burial of the Elder Wand to wait for the next chapter. This chapter got a bit long because of things that happen before the Memorial.
Early the following morning, when Hermione walked into the kitchen, Mr. Weasley was reading the Daily Prophet, and Mrs. Weasley was standing behind Charlie giving him a quick hair-cut. Charlie looked rather embarrassed that Hermione had seen him under such a condition.
“Morning, Hermione!” Mrs. Weasley said, “Cinnamon buns on the table if you're hungry.”
“Good morning,” Hermione said, as she sat down at the table, “Anything about the battle at Hogwarts or the Agents yet?”
“There was a fairly small article about the battle,” Mr. Weasley said, putting down the paper, “and the defeat of Voldemort. But I think they're waiting for the big story until after the memorial. Nothing on the Agents yet, I've noticed.”
“Ministry probably doesn't want the public to worry yet,” Charlie said, “Ow, Mum!”
“Keep still then, Charles,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“Speaking of the memorial,” Hermione said, “Um... I know Andromeda is going to be there, as is Teddy. Kingsley said Aurors are at Andromeda's house until I move Matthew back into mine, but I don't want to leave Matthew there alone with them. I was thinking of going over to Andromeda's house and bringing Matthew to Hogwarts for the memorial. But there are some problems. He's a Muggle, so he won't be able to see Hogwarts nor Hogsmeade. As a baby, he can't completely understand if someone told him about the castle. So is that going to be a problem and, if so, is there some way to fix it?”
“There is an easy way to fix it,” Mr. Weasley said, “Professor McGonagall, as the Headmistress of Hogwarts, has to only put enchantments on Matthew, and he will be allowed to visit Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. Even if he doesn't exactly understand why.”
“Enchantments?” Hermione asked.
“They won't hurt him,” Mr. Weasley said, “It is a very common practice for babies and toddlers that have a Muggleborn in the family and it has been done for centuries now. As you said, babies and toddlers can hardly understand the fact that the wizarding world truly exists, so they wouldn't be able to understand that places like Hogwarts or Diagon Alley and The Leaky Cauldron is really there when it can't be seen by Muggles. It is similar to the Fidelius Charm.”
“If you wish,” Mrs. Weasley said, “After I am done here, I could write a couple of letters, one to Minerva, and one to Andromeda. You could meet Minerva at Andromeda's house shortly before Andromeda and Teddy leave for Hogwarts. Minerva could also help you ready yourself to Apparate with Matthew if you have any fears about that.”
“Thank you, Molly,” Hermione said, “I'd appreciate that.”
Hermione heard a meowing sound and smiled as she saw Crookshanks racing in through the front door. Crookshanks had been at the Burrow since Christmas Break, because there wasn't anyone at Hermione's house to take care of him.
“Crookshanks, good kitty!” Hermione said, as the cat jumped into her lap, “I was wondering where you were. I didn't see you yesterday.”
“He was probably in town,” Mrs. Weasley said, referring to Ottery. St. Catchpole, “I have a feeling he found a mate somewhere.”
“Is that right?” Hermione asked Crookshanks, “Well, unfortunately you're going to have to forget about her. Because you're coming back home with me. Remember Matthew?”
“He's coming back home too,” Hermione said, “Oh, that reminds me. Molly, did Remus and Dora ever tell you where they put Matthew's things from his nursery?”
“If I remember correctly, I believe Remus said something about that,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Yes, a storage facility or something. The address should be with Matthew's baby bag and stuff. Remus said that the storage unit is in your name so you could get permission to use it. Matthew's crib at Andromeda's house was the one brought from your house.”
“Okay, thanks,” Hermione said.
“Oh, it is nothing, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said, “I told you we would do everything we can to help you with Matthew. He's as much a part of this family as you and Harry are. If you find yourself overwhelmed at any time in the coming months, just ask me for help. I'm an expert when it comes to children. It would be completely understandable if you feel overwhelmed, because you are not ready for this.”
“Just something I need to get used to,” Hermione said, with a sigh, “I'm already preparing for it.”
“You do seem ready for it,” Mrs. Weasley said, “But I know it does put a hinder in your plans and any fancy for a career you might want to have. So, if you and Ron decide to go back to Hogwarts in December for your NEWT exams, Matthew is a welcome guest here. We'd be delighted to watch him. You would have nothing to worry about, I promise you.”
“I will consider it, Molly,” Hermione said, smiling, “Thank you.”
“Not at all,” Mrs. Weasley said, “And... there you go, Charlie.”
Charlie summoned a mirror with his wand and looked into it.
“Very nice,” Charlie said, “Thanks, Mum.”
“No wonder you are single with hair like that!” Mrs. Weasley said.
“I doubt that my hair is why I'm single, Mum,” Charlie said, “Bill has long hair and Fleur loves it.”
“Well, Fleur is one-in-a-million, isn't she?” Mrs. Weasley said, grinning.
“I don't know,” Charlie said, “What do you think, Hermione?”
“You look quite dashing, Charlie,” Hermione said, grinning.
“You're not too bad yourself,” Charlie said, winking.
“Hey, hey,” Ron said, walking into the kitchen, “I heard that, Charlie. No flirting with my fiancee.”
“There's only one ginger I love that way,” Hermione said, and when Crookshanks meowed, she amended it with “Oops, two... sorry Crookshanks.”
“Ah, yes, the furry bane of my life,” Ron joked, as he sat down next to Hermione, “Hello, Crookshanks.”
Crookshanks hissed and hopped off Hermione's lap then ran out of the kitchen.
“Do you have to take him back home?” Ron asked, “What about Matthew?”
“Nice try,” Hermione said, with a smirk, “Matthew probably loves him.”
“I knew you were going to say that,” Ron said, frowning.
Hermione chuckled, and kissed him on the cheek.
Andromeda and Professor McGonagall agreed via return letter to meet Hermione at Andromeda's house. At eleven, an hour before the service would take place at Hogwarts, Hermione and Ron apparated to Andromeda's house and found Professor McGonagall standing by two men in Auror robes in front of the house.
“Ah, Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley, there you are,” McGonagall said, “I was just catching up with the two Aurors who will be your protection duty in Oxford. Markus and Phillip and I go way back, don't we gentleman?”
“Minerva, you make me sound old,” one of the men said, then turned to Ron and Hermione, “I am Phillip Dayton and this is Markus Forbes, you'll probably see a lot of us for a while.”
“Oh, hopefully not too long,” Markus said, “We hope these ruddy Snatchers – Agents, whatever they're called – will be apprehended before too long and the problem will be rectified.”
“You can't have two better Aurors protecting you,” McGonagall said. “Very good at Human Transfiguration. And Phillip here is a Registered Animagus.”
“I can turn into a Rottweiler,” Phillip said, “A dog I owned when I was a child.”
“Maybe you can scare off Crookshanks,” Ron chortled, “Ow!”
Hermione had smacked him on the shoulder “Crookshanks can identify Animagi, remember?”
“Oh... yeah,” Ron said, frowning, “Well, that plan's scuppered.”
“How about we go inside then, yes?” McGonagall asked, “I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Matthew or Teddy yet.”
“I'll stay out here and get to know Phillip and Markus a little more,” Ron said, “I have a few questions for them.”
“We'll be back shortly,” Hermione said.
Hermione led McGonagall inside and up to Teddy's bedroom. Hermione opened the door slightly and found Andromeda inside, dressing Teddy in a semi-formal baby outfit for the service. Andromeda smiled when she saw the three of them. Teddy's hair went brown at the sight of Hermione.
“Oh,” McGonagall said, smiling at Teddy, “Isn't he handsome?”
Hermione walked over to the crib, where Matthew was sitting up. He was dressed in a baby version of formal robes. His bright brown eyes were shining as they looked up at Hermione.
“Hi, Matthew,” Hermione said, “Remember me?”
Matthew clapped and smiled when he saw Hermione. She lifted him up and cuddled him against her.
“What a beautiful little boy,” McGonagall said, looking at Matthew.
“Definitely my brother,” Hermione said, “Resembles me some when I was his age, even though he is a boy.”
“Miss Granger,” McGonagall said, “the enchantments I am going to place on him are completely safe. This will give him the ability to see Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley and any other wizarding place you find you have to visit with him.”
“Whatever it takes,” Hermione said, “I want him to be a part of our world even though he is a Muggle.”
McGonagall smiled and took her wand from her dress robes. She hovered her wand over Matthew and closed her eyes, murmuring a long incantation under her breath. Matthew's eyes followed the wand as it moved back and forth. When McGonagall was finished, Hermione looked at Matthew, wondering how he would react. He cooed softly and giggled.
“I added a bit of a tickling charm to the enchantment,” McGonagall said, smiling, “His reaction tells me that the enchantments are successful.”
“Thank you, Professor,” Hermione said, then looked back at Matthew, “Matty – do you like the name Matty?”
Matthew cooed and giggled.
“Matty,” Hermione said, “You are going to see something that very few Muggles get to see in their lifetime. The most wonderful place in the world, even if it does look a bit damaged at the moment.”
Matthew looked up at Hermione and she felt tears in her eyes.
“He reminds me so much of my parents,” Hermione said, “I've always wanted a brother or sister, but my parents were so busy with their careers. I guess they were thinking that I was old enough now for them to have another child and not have many problems raising him.”
“He's a very easy baby to cope with, Hermione,” Andromeda said, “A little cranky sometimes, and he is quite loud when he cries, I'll give him that. Depending on where his nursery is compared to your bedroom, I don't think you'll have a problem hearing him in the middle of the night.”
“I have no doubt about that,” Hermione said, “Muggles have these little machines that allow me to hear him through a kind of – er – well it is hard to explain, but I can hear him even if he'll be upstairs and I'm downstairs. So I can get to him if he needs me.”
“Well, you sound like a mother already,” Andromeda said, smiling, “And... there, Teddy. You look as dashing as your father and grandfather.”
“Andromeda, is it easy to Apparate with someone Matthew's age?” Hermione asked, “I'm so worried something will happen.”
“Remus apparated Matthew here on Halloween,” Andromeda said, “and Matthew was less than a month old then. He was quite fine. Take him just as you would take someone via Side-Along, except for the fact that you'll have to hold him. Concentrate on your Apparation and not on Matthew and he'll be perfectly safe.”
“I can do that,” Hermione said.
“Shall we go then?” McGonagall asked.
Hermione found Matthew's baby bag next to the crib and with a slight bit of difficulty, picked it up, and draped it over her shoulder. She cuddled Matthew against her free arm and followed McGonagall, Andromeda and Teddy downstairs and outside. Ron grinned when he saw Matthew.
“There's the big guy,” he said, joining Hermione and Matthew.
“Remember Ron, Matthew?” Hermione asked, “He's going to be with you and me for a very long time.”
Matthew cooed and smiled at Ron. Hermione grinned.
“Everything is set,” Hermione said to Ron, “Matthew can see Unplottable locations and I think I'll be able to Apparate with him safely.”
“I'll take this for you,” Ron said, removing the baby bag from Hermione's shoulder, “Don't need that getting in the way of you Apparating.”
“We're going to Apparate just outside of Hogsmeade,” McGonagall said, “This will give us no doubts that Matthew can see Hogsmeade and Hogwarts when we enter the village.”
Hermione nodded. She looked at Matthew for a moment, then concentrated on her destination. A few moments later, she was standing a few yards away from the kissing gates that lead into Hogsmeade Village. Ron, Andromeda, Teddy and McGonagall were nearby. Hermione immediately looked at Matthew, who looked completely fine, except for the fact that he looked a little confused at the sudden change of location.
“Can you see that, Matty?” Hermione asked, pointing toward a statue of Hengist of Woodcroft, Hogsmeade's founder, that stood just beyond the gates.
Matthew's eyes sparkled and he cooed as he looked directly at the statue.
“The enchantments work,” Hermione said, grinning, “Thank you again, Professor McGonagall.”
“Not a problem, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said.
Hermione watched Matthew as they made their way through Hogsmeade Village, toward the carriages. His eyes were on the different shops and as they passed the post office, he giggled at the hooting owls that were sitting in the window.
“Er... Hermione,” Ron muttered as they approached the carriages, “Can Matthew see the Thestrals? Your mother was in the same room as him when she died.”
“He didn't understand what was happening,” Hermione said, “He was barely a few weeks old. Harry was over a year old when he saw his mother die, and he didn't see Thestrals until our fifth year.”
“Right,” Ron said. “I just didn't want him to be scared by something so frightening. Of course, I can't wait to see how he is going to react to Hagrid, Grawp and Firenze.”
“Yeah, that might be a bit interesting,” Hermione said, and giggled, which only caused Matthew to giggle.
Ron helped Hermione and Matthew into the carriage. He sat down next to Ron, and Andromeda stepped in with Teddy and McGonagall followed her.
“So when does that little one get to go home?” Andromeda asked, “Don't get me wrong – he is such a wonderful little boy, but I know he needs to get used to you.”
“I'm planning on sometime tomorrow,” Hermione said, “After the memorial, Ron and I are going to my house to set things up and then we'll go to the storage unit Molly was talking about.”
“Oh, good,” Andromeda said, “You do know about the storage unit. Remus mentioned that to me. The address and the key for the unit is in that bag there.”
“Brilliant,” Hermione said.
A moment later the carriage started along the road, and Hermione noticed Matthew staring out the window. Hermione saw Hogwarts in the distance.
“See the school?” Hermione asked Matthew, “If you were a wizard, you would be going there in eleven years. But I'm sure we can get you into a good Muggle school. Maybe a boarding school like Hogwarts.”
“If he is as smart as you, Miss Granger” McGonagall said, “I'm sure any ol' Muggle school would welcome him.”
“We have quite a while to think about that,” Hermione said.
As usual, the ride took fifteen minutes to get to the front steps leading toward the castle. In the distance, Hermione saw hundreds of white and golden chairs sitting near the Hogwarts graveyard. When they left the carriage, Hermione and Ron followed McGonagall and Andromeda toward the chairs. Harry and Ginny caught sight of them and met them when they arrived behind the chairs.
“There's my sweet little guy!” Ginny said, to Teddy.
“Do you want to hold him, Ginny?” Andromeda asked, “I want to find Dora and Remus' caskets.”
“Of course, Mrs. Tonks,” Ginny said.
Ginny carefully cuddled Teddy against her. Teddy's hair went ginger at the sight of her.
“I'll never get tired of that,” Ginny said.
“Me either,” Harry said, “Hi, Matthew.”
Matthew cooed and giggled in Hermione's arms. McGonagall led Dora away toward the long row of caskets. Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny found the Weasleys and sat with them in the section for those who lost family and loved ones in the battle. Hermione looked at the long row of caskets. Andromeda was standing between two of them and brushing a hand over one that must have been for Dora.
Hermione's eyes then traveled to the row in front of her where a young girl Hermione recognized as Tessa, the fifth year Gryffindor prefect, was silently crying into a handkerchief. Her boyfriend, Scott, also a fifth year Gryffindor prefect had been killed by Fenrir Greyback when he tried to save Tessa.
Down the row, Hermione also recognized Dennis Creevey sitting with a man who must have been his father. Although Colin Creevey had been killed a week before the battle, Hermione wondered if Colin was being remembered at this service. As she thought of how Dennis must be feeling at the loss of his brother, Hermione cuddled her own brother closer to her. Matthew relaxed in Hermione's arms, his breathing steadied and he went to sleep.
“Doesn't take too much to wear him out, huh?” Ron asked, nodding to Matthew, as he put his arm around Hermione..
“I think he's going to be a very cooperative little boy,” Hermione said, “I'm sure he'll sleep through the service.”
“Looks like Teddy will do the same,” Ginny said, nodding to Teddy who was sleeping in Harry's arms.
“You might have to hold him soon then, Ginny,” Harry said, “Kingsley asked me to say something to everyone during the service.”
“Really?” Ron asked, “Will you?”
“I guess so,” Harry said, shrugging, “Don't know what to say though.”
“Maybe it will keep your fan-mail and thank you letters to a minimum,” Ginny joked.
“Fan-mail?” Harry echoed.
“Oh, come on, Harry,” Ginny said, “You defeated the most evil Dark wizard ever. The Burrow will probably be flooded with owls.”
Hermione and Ron snickered softly.
“Maybe that is something I'll ask Kingsley to prevent then,” Harry said, “Since he wants to talk to all of us after the service.”
“I wonder what he could possibly tell us that he didn't tell you in the letter, Hermione,” Ron said.
“Or different from what the Aurors told us,” Ginny said.
“Dunno,” Hermione said. “Guess we'll find out.”
Over the next few minutes, the chairs started to fill up. Most of the Hogwarts students sat in the middle rows, and the Professors were sitting in front of them. However, those students who fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, like Neville, Hannah, Seamus, Dean and Luna and most of Dumbledore's Army were sitting together. Lavender was nowhere to be seen and Hermione suspected she was at. St. Mungo's. She had barely survived the attack by Fenrir Greyback, and wouldn't have if Hermione hadn't cursed Fenrir in time.
Other guests such as the Oliver Wood, Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnett and others who had come to the school to fight in the battle were sitting in their own section as well. Hermione also recognized some of the Hogsmeade villagers, such as Aberforth Dumbledore and Madame Rosmerta. Cornelius Fudge, Gawain Robards and other Ministry officials were in the front row.
“Damn it,” Harry muttered, “What is she doing here?”
Hermione looked at Harry, who was looking over his shoulder. Hermione did the same and saw Rita Skeeter and her cameraman near the back of the seats. The camera man had his camera aimed in Hermione's direction, and Rita pushed it away when she noticed they were looking at her.
“Perhaps I should tell her not to 'bug' us,” Hermione said.
Ron and Harry snickered. In the distance, Hagrid was approaching the chairs, and he was carrying something that looked taller than him in his arms, and it was wrapped in a golden tarp.
“What do you reckon that is?” Ron muttered.
“Guess we'll find out,” Hermione said.
Hagrid set the object down near the caskets, then walked off to the side of the chairs. He sat down in a modified chair, and his half-brother, the giant Grawp carefully sat down near him. Hagrid caught sight of Hermione and smiled and waved a large hand at them. He raised his eyebrows as he motioned to Matthew and Hermione mouthed “my baby brother”. Hagrid smiled and nodded.
When everyone was seated, Kingsley Shacklebolt walked toward the podium. Before turning to the witches and wizards in the rows of chairs, he looked at all of the caskets and muttered something Hermione couldn't hear. Hermione thought it was a spell. But when nothing happened, she knew that Kingsley was just saying words of praise to the deceased. Kingsley turned to the podium and looked around at everyone.
"First of all, I would like to welcome you all here to the grounds of Hogwarts castle," Kingsley said, "Wizards, witches, squibs and Muggles alike. Let me introduce myself, to those who do not know me. I am the newly appointed British Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt. We are all united to pay respects to those who died fighting against evil in order to make the world, wizarding and Muggle, a better place. But we shouldn't just pay respects to them. We should pay respects to everyone who fought and died over the years to let us see this day. Many of you sitting in front of me today were not even a part of this world before Voldemort started his reign of evil against our world. To all of you, I tell you now. Do not fret. He is gone and this time he will not come back.:
Kingsley raised a hand and pointed toward the Hogwarts Lake.
“Early yesterday morning, myself, Minerva McGonagall, and others sent Voldemort to the depths of the Hogwarts Lake. It was a burial he didn't deserve. A pyre on the lake is meant to signify a respectful death. This burial was only to make sure that nobody had another chance to bring him back from the crushing depths. However, those resting behind me, and others who were buried in their home-towns or family graveyards deserve this memorial.”
Kingsley then started naming all of those who were lost in the Battle of Hogwarts, and added Colin as well. Among the list was Fred Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin and Severus Snape. When a few reacted to Snape's name, Kingsley explained to the mourners that Snape was not the traitor everyone thought he was, but a respected hero that was trying to save lives by working undercover for the Death Eaters.
“Now I ask a gentleman to come up here to speak to you,” Kingsley continued. “Almost everyone here will know his name, and many know him personally. We owe him our thanks and deepest gratitude. Harry Potter, if you will?”
Hermione looked at Harry, as did many of the others. Harry paused for a moment in his chair, and Ginny gently took Teddy from him. Harry then stood up and walked down the aisle and over in front and stood where Kingsley had been. Kingsley was now sitting beside Cornelius Fudge. Harry looked around at everyone, and his eyes stopped on Hermione, Ron and Ginny.
“I am standing here right now for one big reason,” Harry said. “There are other reasons too: yes, I am here because once again Voldemort could not kill me. I cannot say I defeated him exactly. He defeated himself with his own Killing Curse. But that is not why I am standing here. I am standing in front of you today because of them --”
He turned and looked at the caskets over his shoulder, then looked back at everyone.
“Because they died so that we can live,” he continued. “I am standing here because many of you in front of me chose to fight for me. This memorial could have been for you today, and yet you still chose to fight for me. I am here because of you. I look around and I see several people I have known for many years. Professors, students, dear friends of mine and some who I would consider family. I do not consider myself The Boy Who Lived Again, nor do I consider myself the Chosen One. I am just someone who is trying to live his life. Like everyone here. I can see the words on your lips, your wishes to thank me for something I did. But I thank all of you for being here. For being brave enough to be here and pay their respects to those behind me and those who are buried elsewhere but fought here. To Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, Dora Lupin, formerly Tonks, Severus Snape, Colin Creevey, and those many others who gave their lives so that we may be here. I thank them.”
Harry looked around at everyone and his eyes, once again went to Hermione, Ron and Ginny.
“My godson, the son of Remus and Dora Lupin,” Harry continued, “barely two months old and he lost his own parents... many months younger than I was when my own parents were murdered. His own parents fought here so he may live a full and wonderful life. He will have to grow up without knowing his own parents, except for what myself, his grandmother Andromeda, and others who love him will teach him. But he is here because of the sacrifice his parents made. You may thank me for everything I've done. But I thank his parents and those like him who died to protect him, myself, and everyone else.”
He looked around at those who personally lost someone close to them.
“I cannot ask you to not mourn those who you lost that were close to you,” he continued, “That would be right selfish of me. But I ask that you also celebrate their lives. I ask that you remember who they were and what they fought for. Please know that, and I'm sure everyone here will agree with me, when I say that they did more for us than we can ever thank them for. They didn't have to fight for us, and they did. That is the bravest act I'll ever see in my life. Thank you... all of you.”
Harry bowed his head slightly and walked back toward his seat. He sat down next to Ginny and Ron patted him on the shoulder. Hermione and Ginny smiled at him, and he smiled softly. Several others spoke up as well. Many Professors, including McGonagall and Flitwick, as well as Cornelius Fudge and Gawain Robards and a wizard who introduced himself as Albert Runcorn, the new Senior Undersecretary to Kingsley, and a few students and former students including Neville and Percy. Then Kingsley returned to the front.
“Thank you, everyone, for those kind words,” Kingsley said. “Hearing everyone speak up for their dearly departed friends and loved ones makes me realize that our world is slowly becoming a better place. The Second War is not over yet. This battle was a giant step forward, and Voldemort is defeated, but his followers are out there. As long as there are those who fight for the Dark Arts and support Voldemort's beliefs are out there, we will still fight them. But I ask you to not fret. Go on with your lives and know that the danger you once feared is no longer a threat. That is what I swore yesterday when I was named Minister of Magic. And now...”
Kingsley took his wand from his pocket and pointed it to the large golden tarp. It disappeared and revealed a large white statue of a person with no face. Hermione could see that it had no obvious descriptions. It could have been a wizard, witch, squib or Muggle.
"This memorial has no face," Kingsley said, "because it represents everyone who fought here at the battle of Hogwarts. Not just those who died, but those who lived as well. May those who look upon the statue remember everyone who fought here so that we may go on and live our lives.”
Kingsley bowed and suddenly, a soft humming noise was heard in the distance. Hermione recognized it as Mermish song. The song lasted for almost ten minutes, and as it continued, Hermione looked around at everyone as most of them had tears in their eyes. Near the forest, the Centaur Firenze stood with about a dozen other Centaurs including Ronan and Bane. Golden arrows shot high into the air and disappeared into a cloud of colors over the mourner's heads. When the Mermish song ended, Kingsley looked up at everyone again.
“If you wish to pay last respects and walk amongst the caskets, you may do so,” Kingsley said, “The burials will take place in a couple of hours, Also, I hear the House-Elves of Hogwarts have prepared a feast for us in the Great Hall. I invite everyone inside where I'm sure conversation about our dearly departed will be the topic of conversation. Thank you all for attending and I wish you the best as we try to move on from these events.”
Kingsley bowed slightly, signaling the end of the service. Hermione gently stood up, and Matthew only moved slightly as he remained asleep. She followed Ron, Harry and Ginny with the rest of the Weasleys and those who were close to the victims as they passed along the row of caskets.
Teddy, who had been asleep for most of the service, had woken up as Harry and Ginny had reached his parents caskets, and he started to cry softly against Ginny. Hermione looked at Matthew sleeping peacefully, and she wondered when it would be appropriate for him to visit their parents' graves.
Hermione had tried to keep a calm composure during the entire service, but it was that thought, and Teddy's quiet sobs, that had finally reduced her to tears.
I decided to focus this chapter on a bit about Matthew and Teddy, as well as the memorial service, and leave the Kingsley's discussion with Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny for the next chapter! As well as the burial of the Elder Wand, and a few other things to get this story moving along.
I hope Harry's speech in this chapter made up for the lack of showing one during Fred's funeral.
Also I "borrowed" the faceless statue idea from my "Return to Hogwarts" fan-fic. I liked it a lot so I used it again.
Last edited by Fury; February 3rd, 2012 at 4:14 am.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Author's Note: Q&A Time:
Q: Do you think [Harry] made Teddy a target now that he announced that he was his godson to everyone? I would like to read about Ron's interaction with Matthew too. What did Ron talk to the Aurors about?
A: I will answer much of this in this chapter or the following chapters. I will try to add more of Ron's interactions with Matthew coming up, and also have Ron mention what he talked to the Aurors about as well.
When Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny finished their dedication walk past the caskets, Kingsley was standing patiently nearby waiting for them. Hermione looked around and found Mrs. Weasley, and Andromeda approaching.
“Molly, could you watch Matthew for a few minutes?” Hermione asked, “I think Kingsley wants to speak to us now.”
“Of course, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said.
When Mrs. Weasley cuddled Matthew against her, Matthew woke up and started to cry. Hermione gently brushed her hand across Matthew's forehead, and Matthew calmed down instantly and fell back to sleep. Andromeda gently took Teddy from Ginny as well.
“You can probably find us in the Great Hall when you're finished,” Mrs. Weasley said, “I'll see if I can find anything Matthew would like to eat.”
“Thank you, Molly,” Hermione said.
She walked over to Kingsley with Ron, Harry and Ginny.
“Wonderful service, Minister,” Harry said.
“Yes, it was,” Kingsley said. “Thank you for doing that speech, it was quite uplifting.”
“Just doing my part,” Harry said.
“Though I must express a bit of concern,” Kingsley said. “You took a big risk pinpointing out your godson to everyone. Given the current situation you're in. I assume you are caught up on some of the information about the Agents?”
“I trust – er – almost everyone here,” Harry said, “I would not have spoken up about Teddy if I did not. I noticed Rita Skeeter is present, and she is my only concern.”
“She's no concern,” Hermione said, “Trust me.”
“Why is that, Miss Granger?” Kingsley asked.
“I know some information about Rita that would get her in serious trouble,” Hermione said, “If she decided to cross any lines with me or my friends.”
“Would this happen to be the fact that Rita is an unregistered Animagus?” Kingsley asked.
“Er... how did you know that, sir?” Hermione asked.
“It was a theory,” Kingsley said, “But I see you have proven it to be more than a theory.”
“I've seen her change into her Animagi form,” Hermione said.
“I'll have to keep an eye on her then,” Kingsley said, “Perhaps you are right, Harry. I don't think a single soul here in attendance would cross you – or me for that matter – at the moment. Okay, to the business at hand. First of all, have the four of you met the Aurors that will be your protection detail?”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said.
Hermione, Ron and Ginny nodded.
“I talked to Phillip and Markus myself,” Ron said, “shortly before Hermione and I arrived here from Mrs. Tonks' house. I did it under the advice of my father. I talked to them about my family's wards, and their past history and what they know about myself, Hermione and my friends. They seem pretty trustworthy.”
“Do you have any objections against these Aurors?” Kingsley asked, looking around at the four of them.
“None at the moment, sir,” Harry said, and Hermione, Ron and Ginny agreed with him.
“Wonderful,” Kingsley said, “I picked these Aurors out personally, as well as the two Aurors that will be guarding the Lovegood residence. I also performed the counter-curse to the Taboo on Miss Lovegood myself. How about you, Miss Granger? Is the Taboo no longer a threat to you?”
“Auror Bones removed it from me last night,” Hermione said, “We tested it out and nobody showed up.”
“Wonderful,” Kingsley said.
“Do you have any leads on those others who have the Taboo on them?” Harry asked.
“I wouldn't say leads,” Kingsley said, “As much as theories. A few new ones thanks to Miss Lovegood's information. Some you may be very interested in hearing about, I think.”
“Okay,” Harry said.
“During your battle with Voldemort,” Kingsley said, “You were talking about something called the Elder Wand.”
Hermione's eyes traveled from Kingsley to Harry. His expression was almost stone-like as he looked at Kingsley.
“Yes, sir,” he said.
“I asked Miss Lovegood,” Kingsley said, “why the Snatchers kidnapped her shortly before Christmas, and why the Taboo would be placed on her. She mentioned you, of course, how you are a very good friend of hers. She also mentioned her father and the Quibbler. And then she mentioned something called the Deathly Hallows.”
Hermione felt Ron's hand grip tightly against hers.
“I had never heard of these Deathly Hallows until Luna explained them to me,” Kingsley said. “And when she mentioned the Elder Wand, I realized it was the same wand you had mentioned before your duel with Voldemort. Would you happen to know anything about the Deathly Hallows?”
Kingsley looked around at the four of them. Hermione glanced out of the sides of her eyes at Ron, Harry and Ginny. Harry looked at her and she shrugged, and he looked back at Kingsley.
“Yes, sir, we do,” Harry said.
“Then you would probably know that the Elder Wand is rumored to be the most powerful wand in existence,” Kingsley said, “Harry, do you still have this wand?”
Harry glanced at Hermione again. She frowned, not knowing the best answer.
“I hope you do not think I am trying to take it for myself, Harry,” Kingsley said, “I am just trying to express my concerns.”
“I have it, sir,” Harry said, “But I am going to place it back where it once was. I don't wish to speak of that to you, for security matters.”
“I understand,” Kingsley said, “The Deathly Hallows – Miss Lovegood mentioned it has a most peculiar sign: a triangle, a square and a circle – is this correct?”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said, “Why do you ask?”
“Over the past week,” Kingsley said, “The Auror Department has discovered the bodies of three different wizards – all the victims of the Killing Curse. The Aurors had blamed it on Voldemort at first, but then it was discovered that, while it was first thought the three murders were unrelated, that they all had one thing in common. They were found with the sign of the Deathly Hallows on their bodies somewhere. One man had it tattooed over his heart, one wore an earring with the sign on it, and the third wore a ring with the mark etched into the underside of the band.”
“They're Questers!” Hermione gasped.
“Miss Granger?” Kingsley asked.
“They're Questers, sir,” Hermione repeated, “Believers of the Deathly Hallows who have dedicated their lives to searching for the Deathly Hallows.”
“I thought as much when Miss Lovegood told me the story,” Kingsley said. “I have a theory about these murders. I believe the Agents murdered them, on the orders of Agent 314. Mr. Potter, I have reason to believe Agent 314 is targeting you, not because of your support toward Muggleborn and the likes. I believe you are targeted because Agent 314 believes you may lead them to the Elder Wand if you are captured – if any of your friends are captured. Yourself, your three friends here and Miss Lovegood all have knowledge of the Deathly Hallows.”
“Agent 314 is after the Elder Wand?” Ron asked.
“Yes,” Kingsley said, “That is my theory.”
“How would he know Harry has the Elder Wand?” Ginny asked, “I thought Scabior said he hadn't been in contact with this Agent since before the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry didn't have the Elder Wand until then --”
“I recently discovered I am related to Ignotus Peverell,” Harry said, “The original owner of the Cloak Hallow. If Agent 314 did their research, they would believe the cloak was passed along to me. If this Agent is after the Elder Wand, and they are killing Questers, they may be after all three Deathly Hallows.”
“'To unite the Deathly Hallows makes one the Master of Death',” Hermione recited.
“Miss Lovegood said that exact same thing,” Kingsley said.
Hermione looked at Harry, who was rubbing his hands along his robes.
“Is that all, Minister?” Harry asked, quietly, “I'm sure my friends would like to get back to their family.”
“For now, Harry,” Kingsley said, “I may have more to speak to you about. Please know myself and the Aurors will do everything we can about the Agents. We will make sure none of you are in harm.”
“Thank you, sir,” Harry said.
Kingsley bowed slightly and walked away, joining a few of the mourners near the caskets.
“Harry?” Hermione asked, “What are you thinking?”
“I can't bury the Elder Wand with Professor Dumbledore,” Harry said, “Not yet.”
“What?” Ginny asked, “Here you were planning on --”
“You can't keep it, Harry!” Hermione said.
“I will put it somewhere safe,” Harry said, “The plan is scuppered, Ginny. At least for now. If Agent 314 is researching the Hallows, it will lead them to Professor Dumbledore and his grave. Even if we put protections over it, we cannot trust they wouldn't be broken. Scabior said Agent 314 was smart and cunning. I can't risk it. It has to stay with me until Agent 314 is no longer a threat.”
“I have to agree with Harry, Hermione,” Ron said, “Obviously this Agent 314 is a Quester now. And a very smart one at that. Kingsley said Harry's going to be protected. It is better that the wand is protected with him than in Dumbledore's grave which has already been broken into once.”
“It is very dangerous, Harry,” Hermione said.
“I am well aware of the dangers, Hermione,” Harry said, “But I can't risk it. As the owner of the wand, it is my responsibility.”
Hermione frowned. As she and Ron followed Harry and Ginny back up to the castle, she thought about what she had learned over the past few minutes. She then realized Harry was right, even though it meant it would put him in more danger again. But she realized he was already a target, and hiding the Elder Wand somewhere would not take that target off his back.
The Great Hall, which only two days ago had been the place of bad memories, was now a place of lively chatter. Those who had come inside from the service were sitting down at the five table, talking to friends, loved ones and fellow survivors as they enjoyed the meal made by the house-elves. Over in the center of the Gryffindor table, the Weasleys, Andromeda, Luna and some of the old Gryffindor Quidditch team were deep in conversation, and the discussion was mainly about Fred, Remus and Dora. When Hermione sat down, Mrs. Weasley gently gave Matthew back to her. Across the table, Teddy was now cuddled against Harry.
“Oh, is that Remus and Dora's son?” a voice asked.
Hermione looked up to see Neville, Hannah, Seamus, Dean and Romilda walking over to them and sitting down. Hannah had been the one who spoke up.
“This is Teddy,” Harry said.
“He's beautiful,” Hannah said.
“And who is this young chap?” Seamus asked, as he motioned to Matthew, “He looks like you, Hermione.”
“This is my baby brother, Matthew,” Hermione said.
“Wait,” Seamus said, “You mean –?”
“He was born almost a month before my parents died, yes,” Hermione said.
“Wow,” Seamus said, “Is he one of us?”
“No,” Hermione said, “He is a Muggle. Professor McGonagall gave him enchantments to see the castle. Where is Lavender?”
“At St. Mungo's,” Seamus said, “She's still very weak. The Healers say she'll probably be there for a few weeks if not months.”
“That's horrible,” Hermione said.
“And they don't think she'll have any werewolf features?” Ron asked, looking down at Bill, who was listening in on the conversation.
“They're almost positive,” Seamus said, “But they're waiting until the full moon. Unfortunately her mood isn't exactly the best right now either. She's always angry, and the Healers say that could be one of the only serious effects of Fenrir's attack. I was able to talk to her for about half-an-hour this morning, but she started getting all angry for really no reason, and the Healers had to give her a Calming Draught and she fell asleep a few minutes later.”
“Zat eez just like Bill was after he was attacked by Greyback last year,” Fleur said, “And he is perfectly fine.”
“That gives me a lot of hope,” Seamus said, “When I talk to Lavender, I'll pass along that message.”
“Give her our best,” Hermione said.
“Sure will,” Seamus said.
“So,” Neville said, looking around at Harry, Ron and Hermione, “are any of you going to return here in December for the NEWTs?”
“We've put some thought into it,” Hermione said, “It depends on how I'm doing with Matthew.”
“I'm definitely coming back for it,” Neville said, “NEWTs are the best way to get into the Aurors.”
“You want to be an Auror?” Harry asked.
“I want to help stop those who still support the Dark Arts,” Neville said, nodding. “So... yeah. Why?”
“It is what I was planning on doing,” Harry said, “And Ron was thinking about it.”
“Brilliant,” Neville said, “Perhaps we can get into a training camp together.”
“How many training camps are there?” Hermione asked.
“In Great Britain alone?” Neville replied, “At least five.”
“Dora went to Brighton Academy,” Andromeda said.
“That is where I want to go,” Neville said, “At least fifty percent of the Aurors who have been in duty, ever since the start of the First War began at least, have come from Brighton.”
“It is a rather strict training camp,” Andromeda said, “if memory serves me correctly, but it seems to be the best.”
Hermione looked at Ron, who was focusing on filling his plate with food. She knew he was really excited about getting into the Aurors, and she wondered what he was thinking. But before she could think about it too much, Matthew woke up from his nap and his attention went on the food in front of them.
“Are you hungry?” Hermione asked, “Hmm? I wonder what we could give you from here.”
“I have a better idea, Hermione,” Harry said, then looked over his shoulder, “Kreacher? Can you hear me?”
A CRACK was heard behind Harry, and Kreacher appeared. Matthew became upset at the sound and Hermione cuddled him against her.
“Did that scare you?” Hermione cooed, “I'm sorry. Kreacher, could you Apparate more quietly?”
“Apologies, Miss, Kreacher will be more quiet next time,” Kreacher said, then turned to Harry. “Yes, Master Potter?”
“Could you make something for Teddy and Matthew?” Harry asked.
“Kreacher has an idea, Master Potter,” Kreacher said, “Kreacher always had to cook for Masters Sirius and Regulus when they were only babies. It will be done very shortly.”
Kreacher bowed and this time Apparated with a silent pop.
“Ugh,” Hermione said, “I'm going to have to figure out some recipes for Matthew. Baby food would work, but only for a while...”
“I can make a list of Matthew's favorites, Hermione,” Andromeda said, “Things he has been used to over the past few months. You said you would bring Matthew to your house tomorrow? I could have it ready for you by then.”
“That would be very helpful, Andromeda,” Hermione said, “Thank you.”
“I'm guessing you haven't known Matthew for very long,” Hannah said.
“I met him yesterday morning,” Hermione said, “To say it was a surprise was an understatement. I've been preparing for him ever since.”
“He already seems very close to you,” Hannah said.
Hermione smiled as she looked down at Matthew. He was looking around at everything, quite curious about the old castle.
“How would you like a tour of the castle after lunch, Matty?” Hermione asked.
“I'm sure he would enjoy that,” Ron said.
Hermione smiled and nodded.
After lunch, which consisted of normal Hogwarts food for Hermione, and a pureed version of the food for Matthew, they left the Great Hall with Ron to start on the tour.
“Ohh,” a familiar gruff voice said, as they left the Great Hall, “Isn't he beautiful?”
Hermione smiled when she saw Hagrid walking across the Entrance Hall. Matthew cooed and giggled as he pointed a small hand at the large man.
“Hagrid, meet Matthew,” Hermione said, “My baby brother. Matty, Hagrid has a little brother too.”
“Not so little,” Hagrid said, chuckling.
“Before too long, Matthew will start talking and he and Grawp will have something in common,” Ron said, chortling, “The trouble with English.”
“I can't imagine he'll have too much trouble,” Hagrid said, “Not if he's anything like his big sister. Future Ravenclaw perhaps, if not a Gryffindor.”
“Oh, he's a Muggle, Hagrid,” Hermione said.
“Aw, that's too bad,” Hagrid said, “I would've looked forward to teaching another Granger.”
“Perhaps before – er – too long,” Ron said, “You'll have a Weasley-Granger, or two, or – ugh – three to teach.”
“Not that close, Ron,” Hermione said, “Maybe fifteen to twenty years.”
“Weasley-Granger?” Hagrid asked.
“Weasley before too long,” Hermione said.
Hagrid's eyes widened as he looked between Ron and Hermione. Hermione smiled and with a bit of difficulty, lifted up her hand with her golden engagement ring on one finger.
“Oho!” Hagrid said, “Engaged? Well – 'ow abou' tha'? Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said.
“Thanks, Hagrid,” Ron said, “We must be off. We're going to show Matthew the school, since he won't be able to go here.”
“I'm sure he'll love it,” Hagrid said, “See you around, Matty.”
Hermione grinned and walked with Ron up the stairs, careful to avoid the debris.
“Ron?” Hermione asked, “Did I hear a bit of discomfort in your voice when you thought of having more than one or two kids of our own?”
“Erm – perhaps,” Ron said, grinning, “Fifteen to twenty years?”
“Well, they'll be eleven or almost twelve when they come to Hogwarts,” Hermione said, “And if we wait a few years, then yeah, somewhere in there. We have Matty to look after for now.”
“And he's already a handful,” Ron said, chuckling, “Aren't you, Matty?”
Matthew reached out to Ron, and Hermione chuckled. She looked at Ron questioningly, and he nodded. She handed Matthew to Ron, who cuddled him in his arms.
“Aww,” Hermione said, as she took the baby bag from Ron, “Don't you two look so sweet.”
“Well, he is my little brother – er – in law – er – soon,” Ron said, “Blimey. I have a little brother.”
Hermione giggled. As they ascended the Grand Staircase, portrait inhabitants waved and exclaimed softly, as they saw Matthew. Matthew looked at every one of them rather curiously.
“I can't imagine what he must be thinking right now,” Hermione said, as they walked through the Seventh Floor corridor ten minutes later, “This must be so surreal for him.”
“What about you?” Ron asked.
“Very surreal for me,” Hermione said, nodding, “Still getting used to being a big sister. We're going to be going through quite a lot in the near future.”
When they approached the Fat Lady's portrait, she recognized them for who they were, and gave them immediate admittance without a password.
“This is the Gryffindor Tower Common Room, Matthew,” Hermione said, “For almost seven years, this is where I have been spending many months. It is almost like another home to me.”
Hermione led Ron and Matthew up the stairs and toward the Head Girl bedroom. The door opened for her, and they went inside.
“This was my most recent bedroom,” Hermione said, “I was Head Girl, which is a pretty big deal. Meaning I was thought to be one of the best students in the school and had been given that privilege and title.”
“Brightest student in her year,” Ron said.
“Ron was Head Boy,” Hermione said, looking at Ron, “And in some ways, he deserved the Head title more than I did.”
Ron opened his mouth to argue that point, but Matthew started crying against him.
“Oh!” Ron said, giggling, “I – er – I think Matthew needs to be changed.”
“I'll do it,” Hermione said, as Ron set Matthew on the bed.
“You sure?” Ron asked, “I'm the one with the experience here. Even if it has been a few years.”
“Finally something you can teach me,” Hermione said.
Hermione opened the baby bag and found nappies, baby wipes and other things needed to change Matthew. Hermione chuckled when she saw the logo on Matthew's nappies. She showed a pair to Ron and his eyes widened.
“Chudley Cannon nappies,” Ron said, grabbing them from Hermione, “Wow. Sorry, Matthew, you can't have these.”
“Ron, for Merlin's sake,” Hermione chuckling.
Ron grinned and handed it back to her. She removed Matthews robes and changed him, while Ron instructed her how to do so. She cooed at Matthew, and he giggled and calmed down instantly.
“Well,” Ron said, after Matthew was completely redressed, “It seems we'll be quite prepared for when we have our own child.”
“Practice makes perfect,” Hermione said, grinning as she gently picked Matthew back up and cuddled him against her.
“Hermione,” Ron said, “Can I ask you something?”
“Of course,” Hermione said.
“You haven't talked about the Agents since we talked to Kingsley, you know,” Ron said, “We can talk about it. The Agents and this whole development with the Deathly Hallows. I mean... the Aurors and my wards will protect us, but it will still be an issue until the leader is caught.”
“Kingsley said it isn't going to be a problem, Ron,” Hermione said, “I'm not worried. I just want to focus on Matthew right now. I want to leave the Agents to the Aurors. We need to live our lives without any worries. Scabior's going to Azkaban, and like you said, we're going to be protected by the Aurors. Until that changes and it affects us again, I want to try to live a normal life. Please?”
“Okay,” Ron said, “We'll do that. Until it affects us personally, we won't worry about it.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said. “Now... lets finish the tour, so we can get on with our lives. I want to start my life with you and Matthew. That is all I want to look forward to at the moment.”
Ron nodded. Hermione kissed him softly and Matthew cooed. Hermione chuckled, realizing Matthew was in between them, and she backed up.
“I think someone is jealous of me,” Ron said, in a sing-song voice, “Matty, she was my girlfriend before she was your sister.”
“Ron,” Hermione said, chuckling, “Be nice.”
“Just saying, Hermione,” Ron said, a grin crossing his face.
Hermione rolled her eyes and crossed the room. Ron picked up the baby bag and they headed off back into the rest of the castle.
I've decided to continue this story a little differently. I want to move the story on a little bit, and I've decided to do a bit of a time-skip. You'll find out how far in the next chapter. Nothing too big will happen during that time-skip, and I'll describe some of the smaller events with Ron, Hermione, Matthew and the others.
I'm going to do some more focus on Ron, Hermione and Matthew very soon, but I don't want to just focus chapters on setting the house up in Oxford for them. That would be sort of boring and monotonous. Much easier to describe that in a brief description.
I guess you could call these first five chapters the Prologue to the story. They introduced the major story-lines I want to go with the story:
1) The Agents/Agent 314/The Elder Wand
4) Hogwarts/NEWTs/Preparing for Careers
The rest of the story will have to do with all of that.
Hope you liked this chapter and the twist with the Deathly Hallows (especially the Elder Wand) coming back into the story!
Last edited by Fury; February 3rd, 2012 at 4:54 pm.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Author's Note: Just so it is not confusing where the story is now, I put the date the story continues on after the time-skip descriptions. Also I made a mistake in my first chapter. Matthew was seven months old in May. He's almost ten months old when the story continues. Sorry about that. It is now correct.
Three days after the Battle of Hogwarts, Hermione, Ron and Matthew were settled into their home in Oxford, England.
After the memorial service, when Matthew was safely settled back in Andromeda's house, Hermione and Ron had found the storage unit Remus and Dora had rented. They had found a changing table, a high chair, a tiny washtub, baby toys, books and other things that either fit in a nursery or help Hermione and Ron take care of Matthew. After clearing Hermione's old bedroom of her things, she and Ron used magical transportation to move Matthew's things back into the nursery. The last thing to be moved in was Matthew's crib, which was waiting for Matthew when they returned from Andromeda's house the day after the memorial. Mrs. Weasley wanted to donate a few of the Weasley family's old baby things to them, but Ron and Hermione had insisted on her keeping that for her future grandchildren.
Hermione was amused to find that Ron was very eager with some of the things designated for babies. After Hermione had found a couple of baby-designated walkie-talkies, which allowed her and Ron to listen to Matthew while he was in his crib, she had found Ron carrying one of the walkie-talkies around quite a bit. At first she thought it was because he wanted to be alert to Matthew's needs, but one day she caught him listening to Matthew's soft, calm cooing as he tried to get to sleep, and Hermione found this quite adorable.
Hermione didn't have much of a problem when it came to ownership of her house. As she had expected, her parents' Will had named her the owner of the house if they passed away. Also she found that a recent addition had been added to the Will after Matthew was born. An education fund had been set up for Matthew and had been placed in Richard's bank account that now belonged to Hermione.
At first, Hermione and Ron found it quite difficult to take care of Matthew, but they pressed on. It took a couple of weeks before they were able to get into a good routine. Andromeda had given Hermione a good list of recipes as a good healthy diet for Matthew, all of which Matthew seemed to enjoy.
After Matthew had come down with a brief cold near the end of May, the first big issue came up about what to do in case he became sick or hurt at some point. Ron was all about going to a Healer, but Hermione decided because Matthew was a Muggle, that a Muggle Pediatrician would be better for him. They met a wonderful doctor for Matthew, who had scheduled once-a-month visits during the next two years of his life to make sure he would grow up healthy.
After the revelation that Agent 314 may be after the Elder Wand, Harry had placed the Elder Wand safely in his school trunk. Bill, who knew some excellent protection enchantments thanks to his work at Gringotts, helped Harry put some enchantments over the trunk. After some brief tests in which Mr. Weasley, Ginny and Bill all tried to open the trunk and had all come down with an irritating rash until Bill was able to lift them with a counter-curse, it had been decided the Elder Wand was perfectly protected.
After Scabior's capture, it seemed that Agent 314 and the rest of the Agents had decided to go dormant for a while. No leads had come to the Auror department at all, and there were no suspicious murders nor any sign that recent murder victims had anything to do with Questers.
Even then, the Aurors that guarded Hermione's house, Luna's house and the Burrow did not back down. At least one Auror was always on protection detail, and many days, The Auror, Phillip, could be found in his Rottweiler form, standing at attention in front of Hermione's house. Most of Hermione's Muggle neighbors just thought he was an extremely obedient guard dog.
At the start of June, as Hermione was going through her finances, she realized that before too long, money was going to be an issue. Ron immediately decided to take up George's offer to help with the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes shop, which was now fully back up and running. Hermione had no issues with this and Ron had found flexible hours so that he could work and be at home if Hermione and Matthew needed him. Because Angelina and Ginny were also helping with the shop, George had no problem with Ron's flexible hours and mostly just asked him to come in when he felt Hermione could take care of Matthew by herself for a few hours.
(Ron's PoV – 2 ½ months later – July 23rd, 1998)
“Ron!” George's voice called from one of the aisles of Weasley Wizard's Wheezes, “We need more Edible Dark Marks! Oh, and Decoy Detonators!”
“Can't Ginny do it?” Ron asked, “I'm about to go on my lunch break! Hermione and Matthew are meeting me soon.”
“Ginny's already back there doing inventory count,” George said, “Fill up the stock and then take your break. Close up the till first, Ron! I found it open with nobody attending it twice this week!”
Ron stopped in his tracks and turned around. Indeed, the till was still open. He brandished his wand and closed the till with a security spell George had taught him. He then crossed the shop and went into the back room. He was extremely happy it was Friday.
George had given him weekends off to spend time with Hermione and Matthew. Three weeks ago, after a month of working at the shop, it had been suggested by Hermione that Ron work at the shop a full eight hours a day. Hermione had insisted this because she had gotten into a routine of taking care of Matthew. At first Ron wasn't sure if this was a good idea, because Matthew was quite a chore for Hermione. But she seemed to get used to the routine. So Ron had agreed and now he was working full-time, five days a week at the shop.
When he went to the large back room, Ginny was nowhere to be seen. Ron growled and narrowed his eyes.
“Ginny?” Ron asked, “Where are you? Harry, you better not be back here again!”
“Harry's with Teddy at the Burrow, you git,” Ginny said, “And that was only once! And it was just snogging, you know.”
“Still... no snogging while you're at work,” Ron said.
“It was my lunch-break!” Ginny hissed, “What are you doing back here anyway?”
“Restocking,” Ron said, grabbing handfuls of Edible Dark Marks, and putting them in a small basket.
“How much are you taking?” Ginny asked, “I need to subtract those from the inventory list.”
“Er.... twenty,” Ron said, quickly counting the candies, “And probably a dozen Decoy Detonators too.”
“Be careful with those Decoys, Ron,” Ginny said, “Last time we spent all afternoon chasing them down.”
“That was an accident!” Ron said, “Now if you excuse me, I need to put these away. I'm meeting Hermione and Matthew for lunch.”
“Today?” Ginny asked, “Aren't you going to be spending all day with Hermione tomorrow?”
“Um... yeah, it is the weekend, Gin,” Ron said.
Ginny raised her eyebrows questioningly, then chuckled and shook her head.
“You forgot, didn't you?” she asked, “Of course you forgot! You're such a boy!”
“Forgot what?” Ron asked, “Harry's birthday isn't until a week from tomorrow.”
“Mmhmm,” Ginny said, “And what happened at this time last year, a week before Harry's birthday?”
Ron stared at Ginny... and then his eyes widened. His mind went back to July 24th of the previous year...
He and Hermione were sitting on the dock in the early afternoon. Ron admitting his feelings for Hermione after kissing her and then she admit her feelings for him...
“Oh, bloody hell!” Ron said, “My one-year anniversary with Hermione.”
“You forgot,” Ginny said, grinning.
“I've been so busy with work and Matthew,” Ron said, “Ugh – I have to plan something.”
“Are you going to include Matty in your plans?” Ginny asked.
“Er.... I don't know,” Ron said, “I was hoping to spend a bit of time alone with Hermione. We haven't had much private time lately. Hmm...”
“I could watch Matthew,” Ginny said, quickly, “Harry and I could. This is Andromeda's weekend to spend with Teddy, since Harry wants him next weekend for his birthday. So Harry and I could baby-sit Matthew at the Burrow. Mum would love to spend some time with him.”
“Um... yeah, I'll talk to Hermione about that,” Ron said, “Thanks for reminding me.”
“No problem,” Ginny said, “Though, I suppose I could have let you forget and watched Hermione yell at you.”
“Well, I owe you one,” Ron said.
“I'll hold you to that,” Ginny said.
“I knew you would say that,” Ron muttered.
Ron took some Decoy Detonators and walked out of the inventory room. When he finished restocking the inventory, he walked out of the shop and headed up the cobbled pavement toward the Leaky Cauldron. Diagon Alley had improved measurably since Voldemort's defeat. Almost every shop was back open, except for Mr. Ollivander's Wands. Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor had been shut down and replaced with a new shop after Mr. Fortescue's body had been found in Ireland the previous month. It was rumored this had something to do with the Agents, but it was later discovered he had been murdered in the winter, because his body had shown signs of being frozen and thawed out, all a result of the weather.
Ron heard a sound behind him and turned around, pointing his wand out in front of him. Ron growled. Markus, one of the Aurors that had been watching him, Hermione and Matthew and had volunteered to watch him during his work hours, was standing there.
“Caught me this time, didn't you?” Markus said, “Nice work.”
“Constant Vigilance,” Ron said.
“Ah, Alastor Moody's favorite phrase,” Markus said, “I only hope I can be half the Auror he was.”
“Yep,” Ron said, not exactly listening to the Auror, “If you excuse me, I am meeting Hermione and Matthew soon.”
“Yes, that is why I decided to come out of my hiding spot,” Markus said, “Phillip sent me a messenger Patronus. Hermione and Matthew left a few minutes ago, and are waiting for you.”
“Well, I don't want to keep them waiting,” Ron said.
Ron turned and headed toward the Leaky Cauldron. He found Hermione and Matthew at a table. Tom, the barman, was talking to Hermione. Matthew was currently sleeping in his baby-carrier which was nestled in the seat near Hermione.
“He's getting bigger every time I see him,” Tom said, chuckling, “How old is he?”
“Ten months old, a week from Monday,” Hermione said, “Hi, Ron!”
Ron kissed Hermione briefly before sitting across from her.
“Almost ten months old,” Tom said, “Has he said his first word yet?”
“No, but he has been babbling a lot,” Hermione said, “So I think he's close. I've been trying to encourage him. But nothing yet.”
“I'm trying to get him to say Ron,” Ron said. “Hermione's too complicated of a name. Maybe Mione.”
“How do you know that nickname?” Hermione asked, “That was my father's nickname for me.”
Ron's eyes widened. He had heard her say that name many times in her sleep after her father died. She wasn't to know that.
“Lucky guess?” Ron asked.
“Oh,” Hermione said, “I guess it could work. Or perhaps 'sissy'.”
“You're too much of a Gryffindor to be a sissy,” Ron said, with a smirk.
“Short for sister, Ronald,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes, “Anyway, Tom. Two specials and two butterbeer. I have food for Matthew if he wakes up.”
“Coming up!” Tom said.
Tom bowed slightly and walked back toward the bar.
“How's work?” Hermione asked.
“Same stuff, different day,” Ron said, shrugging, “At least it is Friday. Can't wait for tomorrow.”
Hermione grinned. “You remembered our anniversary?”
“How could I forget?” Ron asked.
“Ginny reminded you, didn't she?” Hermione asked.
“Damn it,” Ron said, “How do you know these things!”
“Hey!” Hermione said, in a scolding tone, “Watch your language. When Matthew starts talking, he's going to be very impressionable. He'll echo what he hears. I will never forgive you if he starts swearing this young.”
“Sorry, love,” Ron said, with a smirk, “Geez, you sound like my Mum. That is so mental. You're his sister, Hermione, not his mother.”
“I'm as good as, Ron,” Hermione said, “Though – I hope doesn't start calling me Mama. I swear people are going to start asking if he is our son before too long.”
Ron blushed. “So – er about tomorrow. Ginny said she wants to baby-sit Matty so we can have the day to ourselves. I figured he could spend the night at the Burrow, you know? Give us the day and night to ourselves.”
“Um...” Hermione said, frowning, “Maybe.”
“Hermione,” Ron said, “He'll be fine for a day and night away from you. Mum, Ginny and Harry can take care of him. It is our anniversary, and well – I was hoping we could you know – do something special.”
“Special, huh?” Hermione asked, grinning, “So I suppose it has been on your mind lately?”
“Blimey, I think about it a lot,” Ron said, chuckling.
“Well, I wasn't going to tell you until tomorrow,” Hermione said, “But I guess I can tell you about it now.”
“What's that?” Ron asked.
“These past few weeks, I've been doing some studying,” Hermione said, “And let's just say... I've been brewing a certain potion.”
“Oho!” Ron said, chuckling, “I guess I'm not the only one who thought about it.”
“No,” Hermione said, grinning and shaking her head, “I did want our anniversary to be special. Were you thinking of doing anything? Going anywhere for – you know – dinner?”
“Um... Madam Puddifoot's?” Ron said, grinning.
“Right,” Hermione said, “Stupid question. However, I do have an idea. My parents' favorite restaurant for special occasions. It is in London and it isn't too expensive.”
“Are you sure?” Ron asked, “We have been trying to save money lately. We could always have a private dinner at home.”
“We're okay financially,” Hermione said, “We haven't had to dip any further into my parents' money since you have been working. Besides, we haven't had much time to ourselves because of Matthew. And I have been wanting a night where I don't have to keep an ear on the walkie-talkie.”
“So you agree?” Ron asked.
“Matthew can spend tomorrow evening and Sunday morning at the Burrow,” Hermione said, “That is all I'll allow and it gives us the evening to spend together.
“Brilliant,” Ron said, “I'll let Ginny know.”
“He usually gets cranky if he doesn't get at least four hours of sleep in the afternoon,” Hermione said, “Oh, but don't let him sleep too late or you'll be up at all hours in the morning trying to get him back to sleep. Oh, and no sweets – at all! – my parents never would have allowed it. Oh and --”
“Hermione!” Ginny said, as she cuddled Matthew against her, “He'll be fine. I promise. I'm almost an expert with babies at the moment thanks to Teddy coming over every other weekend. Dad even made a crib so we wouldn't have to keep moving Teddy's, so you don't have to worry about that either. It is in my room at the moment, so I'm sure I'll be able to hear Matthew when I'm asleep.”
Hermione nodded. She, Ginny and Ron were standing in the kitchen of the Burrow and it was late afternoon on Saturday, Ron and Hermione's first anniversary. Harry and Mrs. Weasley were there as well. Harry was sitting at the table, a mischievous grin on his face as he listened to the conversation.
“Hermione,” Ron said, “Ginny's right. Now, if we're going to get ready for dinner, we better go. The reservation is is at seven-o-clock, in three hours, and it takes you at least two hours to get ready.”
“Aww, you two sound like a married couple already,” Harry said, “When's the wedding?”
Mrs. Weasley, who had been mixing up a recipe for Matthew's dinner, perked up her ears at the word 'wedding'. Hermione narrowed her eyes at Harry when she noticed this.
“We haven't even began discussing that,” she said, more to Mrs. Weasley than Harry,, “We're too focused on Matthew and everything else to even begin discussing it. I think we're going to wait to even start discussing it until the start of next year.”
“Next year?” Ginny asked.
“We've been discussing McGonagall's offer to go to Hogwarts for the NEWTs in December,” Ron said.
“Not exactly,” Hermione said, “I think I said three sentences once – once!”
“Hermione, I know you,” Ron said, “You're thinking about it a lot.”
“Either way,” Hermione said, “We have quite a while until we have to decide.”
“Hermione,” Ron said, dangling his pocket-watch in his hand.
“You seriously underestimate my preparation skills, Ronald,” Hermione said.
“No, I don't,” Ron said, “Let's go.”
Hermione sighed and walked over to Matthew and kissed him on the head.
“Ron and I will be back tomorrow,” she said, “I promise. Will you be good for Ginny and Harry?”
Matthew cooed and babbled indistinctly.
“Please don't say your first word tonight,” Hermione said, pouting, “I beg of you.”
“If he does, I'll give you my memory of it so you can watch it in Dumbledore's Pensieve,” Harry said, “Now go. Have fun... play nicely.”
“Harry!” Hermione growled, hoping it would translate into 'shut up! Ron's mother is in the room!'
“See you tomorrow,” Ron said, “Come on, Hermione. Matty will be fine – no, no more goodbyes.”
Hermione scowled as Ron dragged her out of the Burrow.
In the Blue Rose Italian Restaurant in London, a young couple was sitting at a table in the middle of the lavish dining room. The woman looked dazed as she stared across the table at the man. This was due to the Imperius Curse he had put her under. The man was using Polyjuice Potion, disguised as a Muggle in his mid-twenties. This was needed for his mission because his own appearance was too recognizable to his targets.
The man's name was Agent Shadow. This was, of course, not his real name, but a pseudonym. He had only been in the Agency for two months now, still a rookie, but one of the most important rookies in the group. He was known as Shadow for two reasons: one his expertise at disguising himself using Polyjuice Potion, or forms of Human Transfiguration, was unmatched amongst the other Agents, and two, he was quite skilled at shadow writing – the art of writing with a Quick-Quotes Quill by just thinking of the words he wanted to write.
Shadow's face was hidden behind a menu as he looked in the direction of the restaurant's front doors. He smiled when he saw his targets walking into the room. Hermione Granger was dressed in a pale-blue dinner dress and Ron Weasley was in buttoned-down shirt and dress pants. Shadow took his pocket-watch from his belt-loop and looked at it. Five minutes to seven... right on time.
It had taken a bit of work to get where he was sitting. The previous afternoon, he had just so happened to be sitting in the Leaky Cauldron when he had overheard the conversation between the two targets. They had talked about having a dinner to celebrate their anniversary. It didn't take long to find out where either. He had tracked Ron to this restaurant that morning, then used an Imperius Curse on one of the hostesses to suggest the best time and table for a romantic evening. Shadow then reserved his own table near the suggested table and had found a nice-looking Muggle woman to bring in as his dinner date.
Agent 314's orders had been simple. Pose as someone enjoying a dinner. Get close to the targets, but do not harm them. This is a simple reconnaissance mission to discover what the young couple were doing at the moment and what their future plans would be.
“Do not do any harm to the targets,” Agent 314 had said.
Shadow harrumphed silently. Ever since Scabior had been apprehended and imprisoned in Azkaban, Agent 314 had kept the Agents on the down-low. In fact, this was Shadow's very first mission, even if he had been in the Agency for two months. Agent 314 had ordered him to live his life. Do things he would normally do until he was needed. For weeks he wondered when he would get his first mission. And then... Agent 314 had discovered Ron and Hermione's first anniversary as a couple was coming up... and now, here Shadow was.
He looked over his menu and saw Ron and Hermione walking toward their table nearby, being led by a hostess. Shadow looked down at his menu so as to not raise attention. The table was close enough. He could hear them and not have to look at them.
“Sir?” a voice said to Shadow's left, “Can I get your order?”
“Er... we'll each have the Ravioli and Linguine dish,” Shadow said, “Garlic Bread and the house-wine.”
If he had to listen to Weasley and Granger's romantic discussion, he was going to need a few drinks in him. He pointed his wand, under the table, at the waiter and put him under the Imperius Curse.
“And I'll keep my menu, thank you,” he said, “Oh, and send that young couple, the ginger and the brunette, at the table to my right the house-wine as well. Say it is a gift from Harry Potter. Do not let them know I am here.”
“Very good, sir,” the waiter said, “Dinner will arrive shortly.”
The waiter walked away. Shadow directed his attention to Ron and Hermione. They were ordering drinks at the moment from the hostess, and a moment later the woman walked away.
“I really think we should discuss taking our exams in December,” Ron said. “I imagine the letters of invite will come next month when the rest of the school letters come for students.”
“Can we talk about that later, Ron?” Hermione asked, “I thought we were focusing this evening on our anniversary, not our future.”
“Yeah,” Ron said, “I guess so.”
Shadow could hear Hermione's audible sigh from his table.
“Fine,” Hermione said, “We can discuss it. I do want to take my exams, okay? I want to get a good job sometime. But for now, I am a stay-at-home sister.”
“Can't we hire a professional babysitter?” Ron asked, “Or what about....?”
Ron's voice lowered as he named something that probably had to do with wizards. They were very good at using Muggle-safe discussion in public.
“No,” Hermione said, “I would dare not ask Harry to do that. Besides, you know I am against it.”
“Oh, come on,” Ron said, “You liked it when he cooked for Matthew.”
“I want to help them, Ron,” Hermione said, “Not use them for housework.”
Shadow deduced that Hermione was talking about house-elves. He rolled his eyes and hoped they would say something interesting soon. He expected he had about forty-five minutes left before the Polyjuice Potion stopped working. That gave him half-an-hour to eavesdrop, and fifteen minutes to get out of the restaurant, get rid of the Muggle and get to safety before he began the slightly painful transformation back to himself.
Shadow saw the waiter that was at his table walk over to Ron and Hermione's table.
“Sir? Ma'am?” the waiter said, “I have a request here for you. A bottle of our own house-wine, Blackberry-flavored from a man named Harry Potter?”
“Harry?” Ron asked, “Really? Is he here?”
“No, sir,” the waiter said, “It was a request sent away from the restaurant.”
“We'll have to thank him,” Hermione said.
The waiter set down a bucket of ice, popped the cork from a bottle and set it in the bucket. He bowed slightly and walked away.
“That git,” Ron said, “Didn't say anything about this, did he?”
“He's our best mate, Ron,” Hermione said, “It is very sweet of him.”
Shadow grinned. He needed something about Harry Potter. Agent 314 had asked him to get that information. He hoped that sending the house-wine to Ron and Hermione, disguising it as a gift from Harry, would spark up conversation about him.
“Harry didn't seem so excited about the prospect of exams,” Ron said.
“I'm sure he's trying to focus on Ginny at the moment,” Hermione said, “She goes back to school in September, and then he'll only see her on those designated weekends in the village. Luckily Kingsley immediately allowed the school to open again.”
“Yeah,” Ron said.
“I'm sure he'll go back for the exams,” Hermione said, “He does want to be a....”
Hermione lowered her voice and Shadow couldn't hear her.
Shadow grinned behind his menu. Exams... so Harry might be going back to Hogwarts in December. Yes, that could work. Shadow also had the option of going back to Hogwarts as well for his NEWTs. Ever since he joined the Agency, the exams were the last thing on his mind. But perhaps he could go now... an inside man.
“So have you decided what you're going to get Harry for his birthday?” Hermione asked.
“Probably a gift basket from the store,” Ron said, “I get a discount, you know.”
“And how do you know George, Ginny or Angelina aren't getting him the same thing?” Hermione asked.
“Ginny... not likely,” Ron said, “Probably something romantic. And I could convince George and Angelina to do something different. What about you?”
“Dunno,” Hermione said, shrugging, “Been so busy lately. Haven't even thought about it.”
“You'll have to do good to top Luna,” Ron said, “She'll be at the party too. Bet she's giving him more of her drawings. I can just imagine her drawing her own version of what happened in May.”
So... Luna Lovegood would be at the birthday party. She was one of Agent 314's targets. They would be very happy to hear about this.
Suddenly, Shadow felt a grumble in his stomach. His eyes widened. Impossible. Had the Polyjuice Potion been faulty? How? He was an expert at making the potion! He had spent a month making sure it was correct! But as he looked at his knuckles bubbling, he knew he was close to returning back to himself. He growled and pointed his wand at the Muggle woman across the table. He was intent on killing her, but he had no time. So he used a Memory Charm, making her forget everything about him. He couldn't trust his Imperius Curse being good enough to make her forget this. He lifted the Curse from the woman, and walked out of the restaurant, before the Muggle could even look around and wonder what she was doing in such a beautiful restaurant by herself.
I was going to have more of Hermione and Ron's anniversary and I had even thought of doing a fluffy end to the chapter since I had hinted at it early in the chapter, but I decided to leave it there. This chapter was more to focus on what Ron and Hermione are currently doing with their lives, and the fact that they are being watched.
I think I gave at least one good clue as to Agent Shadow's identity. Harry's birthday party is next chapter and something BIG happens during it!
As you can see, I'm really focusing a lot of this story on the possibility (probability?) of Ron, Hermione and Harry going back to Hogwarts for their NEWTs. Which is still a few months away in-story (next chapter is the very end of July and they aren't returning until early December) so I am trying to focus on the story-line at the moment centering around them enjoying their lives, while the Agents are more of a back-plot for now. Though their presence in the story is still a big part, as was seen in this chapter.
Next chapter will be Harry's first PoV of the story. I don't want it to look like I am ignoring him. Because I'm not. He is a big part of this story, even though most of my focus right now is on Ron, Hermione, Matthew, and the Agent storyline.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter!
Last edited by Fury; February 3rd, 2012 at 9:25 pm.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Harry's Birthday, Part 1
Author's Note: This chapter is getting very long, so I decided to split this into two chapters. This chapter has nothing to do with Harry's birthday party, but most of it takes place on the day of the party, and the next chapter will be the party and other things.
Sunday, July 25th, 1998
“Ron, hurry up,” Hermione growling, pacing outside the bathroom, “I need to get ready so we can go to the Burrow and pick up Matty!”
Ron opened the door and Hermione rolled her eyes when she realized he was still in his pyjama bottoms.
“Why aren't you dressed?” she asked.
“Relax, Hermione,” Ron said, “It isn't like we're on a strict schedule today. Besides --”
Hermione narrowed her eyes when Ron put his arms around her middle.
“ – I was hoping we could just have a couple more hours to ourselves,” he continued. “I don't know about you, but I didn't want last night to end.”
“I did enjoy having some time to ourselves,” Hermione said, “But now it is time to go back to being a big sister. Besides, I think Matty's sleep pattern is improving. He hasn't woken up too early over the past few days. As long as he goes to bed at a proper time, we can have nights to ourselves.”
“So you're saying we can have more nights like last night in the near future?” Ron asked.
“Only if you get dressed and let me get ready,” Hermione said, “I'm sure he misses me. It is his first early morning without me since he's been back here.”
“You are such a good big sister,” Ron said.
“I try,” Hermione said, then smiled and kissed him softly. “And just so you know, I did enjoy last night. Thank you.”
Ron smiled and kissed her again. She ducked under his arms and headed into the bathroom.
“Oh, Ron, one more thing,” Hermione said, then lifted up her new charm bracelet, his anniversary gift to her last night, “Thank you again for your gift..”
“I do remember you saying that last night,” Ron said.
“Really?” Hermione said, “If I remember, you were quite buzzed after that bottle of wine.”
“Mmm, yes,” Ron said, “We have to thank Harry for that one. Thank you for mine.”
Ron lifted up his hand. After weeks of looking for it, she had finally found the ring her father had worn during the few months of his engagement to her mother before they got married. It was now on Ron's ring finger just above his promise ring she had given him for Christmas.
“You're very welcome,” Hermione said, smiling before she shut the bathroom door.
Almost an hour later, Hermione and Ron arrived at the Burrow and walked down the driveway. When they arrived, Ron knocked on the open front door. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and Harry and Ginny were in the kitchen. Matthew was sitting in his high-chair near Ginny, his face covered in his breakfast baby food. When he saw Hermione, Matthew cooed and babbled.
“There's my little guy,” Hermione said, sitting in the empty chair next to the high-chair, “How are you? Did you miss me?”
“He was a very good little boy,” Ginny said, “Slept all the way through the night. He woke up an hour ago and would have woken me up, I expect, if I wasn't already up.”
“You did?” Hermione asked Matthew.
Matthew babbled indistinctly again.
“I know it is on the tip of your tongue, Hermione,” Ginny said. “He didn't say his first word yet. So you haven't missed it.”
“That's all she talked about last night,” Ron said, “Matthew this – first word that.”
“I did not,” Hermione said.
“You probably don't remember it,” Ron said.
“I was not buzzed!” Hermione said, “You drank most of it.”
“Drinking?” Mrs. Weasley said, “What is she talking about, Ron?”
“We had wine with our dinner last night,” Hermione said, “It was on the house... a gift from Harry.”
“What?” Harry asked.
“The blackberry house-wine at the restaurant,” Ron said, “Thank you, by the way.”
“Er – I didn't get you any wine,” Harry said, “I don't even know where you went.”
Hermione slowly looked at Harry, then her eyes went to Ron. His eyes went from Hermione, back to Harry.
“The waiter said the wine was from you,” Ron said, “He mentioned your name.”
“He mentioned my name?” Harry asked.
“You're serious?,” Hermione said, “You didn't give us the wine?”
“I'm serious, Hermione,” Harry said.
“What's going on?” Mr. Weasley asked.
Hermione looked at Ron again, and he put a hand over his mouth.
“What do you think, Hermione?” he asked, in a muffled voice.
“If an Agent gave us the wine,” Hermione said, “I'm sure it would have been more dangerous than simply giving us a buzz.”
“Unless they were sending a different kind of message,” Harry said. “There has been no sign of Agents over the past couple of months. Maybe it was a message to tell us 'hey, we're still around, don't forget about us'.”
“Do you reckon it was Agent 314?” Ginny asked.
“I'll write to Kingsley,” Mr. Weasley said, “Aurors can investigate it. What's the name of the restaurant?”
“Blue Rose Italian Restaurant,” Hermione said, “It's a Muggle place in London.”
“Was anyone following you yesterday?” Mr. Weasley asked,
“Or Friday?” Ginny asked, “I know you were planning your anniversary during lunch.”
“We didn't see anyone suspicious,” Ron said, and Hermione nodded her head in agreement.
“Well,” Harry said, “If the wine wasn't laced with anything, then obviously they didn't want to hurt you yesterday.”
“The restaurant was crowded,” Ron said, “Perhaps they were trying to listen in on conversation.”
“Did you say anything that might have been of interest to them?” Mr. Weasley asked, “Any mention of Matthew, or Teddy or --”
“Mostly we were discussing stuff we wanted to do in our future,” Hermione said, “The possibility of going back to Hogwarts for our exams... Harry's birthday came up. Most of the time it was small talk, you know – a romantic date.”
“I'm sure the Aurors will discover anything suspicious,” Mr. Weasley said, “If there were any use of untrustworthy spells, they'll know about it. I'll go get Auror Bones and let him know what is going on. Perhaps he can help us out somehow.”
Mr. Weasley stood up and walked outside.
“Ron, Hermione?” Mrs. Weasley asked, “Would you like something to eat?”
“Sure,” Ron said, “I do miss your food, Mum.”
Mrs. Weasley smiled and set two plates of bacon and eggs down on the table.
“I cook well enough!” Hermione said, then looked at Matthew, “And speaking of breakfast, it looks like you missed quite a bit, young man.”
Hermione picked up a napkin and cleaned Matthew's face, which caused him to giggle. Mr. Weasley returned to the kitchen with Auror Bones.
“Arthur explained the situation to me,” Bones said, looking at Hermione and Ron, “And this is my suggestion. If there is any chance the Agents are tracking you, do not look suspicious. Don't let them know you know about it. Keep vigilant, of course, but I think the best idea would do what you do everyday. Any changes in your routine could be dangerous. Tell your protection duty, of course. But other than that, don't do anything too brash.”
“So act like it never happened?” Ron asked.
“For now,” Bones said, “That is the best advice.”
Hermione looked at Ron and he shrugged. Hermione nodded and decided Bones' idea was probably best. Though she couldn't help but wonder if anyone was indeed watching them last night, and if so... who was it?
July 31st, 2008
The morning of his birthday, Harry woke with a start and looked around the room. Then he remembered he was in Ron's old bedroom. When Teddy stayed over at the Burrow, Harry and Ginny would switch nights of who would sleep in Ginny's bedroom where Teddy's crib was. When it was Harry's night, Ginny would sleep in Harry's room. Last night, the first night of the weekend, Ginny had insisted on it being her night, because she didn't want Harry to be tired on his birthday.
He quickly got up and dressed into a nice outfit, then walked downstairs. He could hear Teddy crying in Ginny's bedroom, and he slowly opened the door and peered inside. Ginny was pacing back and forth, her voice the mixture of humming and hushing noises. When she saw Harry, she looked very relieved.
Look, Teddy!” Ginny gasped, playfully, “Your godfather's awake.”
“Do you want me to hold him?” Harry asked.
“Yes, please,” Ginny said, “He woke me up fifteen minutes ago, and I've changed him and gave him his morning bottle and he's still cranky.”
Harry grinned and walked over to her. He gently took Teddy from her, and Teddy's hair changed from a green color to Harry's brown. Teddy calmed down instantly and curled up against Harry.
“Oh, I see how it is,” Ginny said, “Favoritism. Maybe, I'll focus on Matthew at the party and make you jealous, big guy.”
Harry chuckled. Ginny kissed him softly, though it was rather awkward with Teddy in his arms.
“Happy eighteenth,” she said, grinning.
“Mmm, thank you,” Harry said, “Can I have my present?”
“That was your present,” Ginny said, with a smirk, “No... you can have it later.”
“What about you?” Harry asked, “What do you want for your birthday next month?”
“Another ruby amulet,” Ginny said, grinning, “Exactly like the one you gave me on Christmas.”
“Sure,” Harry said, and when Ginny's eyes brightened, “Except it won't be enchanted this time.”
“Damn it,” Ginny said, “Thanks for getting my hopes up.”
“Oh, come on, Ginny,” Harry said, “You're not still on about that.”
“I will be seventeen,” Ginny said, “I distinctly remember that number coming up in many of our conversations.”
“Yeah, we were talking about my age,” Harry joked.
“Very funny,” Ginny said, “You'll sing a different song when I'm on the train to Hogwarts in September. Unless you come with me to complete your final term of Hogwarts. I'm sure Professor McGonagall wouldn't mind.”
“Two weeks is enough for me,” Harry said, “Besides there is also Hogsmeade weekends.”
“But I'll miss you too much,” Ginny said, frowning.
“So would Teddy,” Harry said.
“Teddy can visit on Hogsmeade weekends,” Ginny said.
“Teddy can't offer to write to you until his fingers fall off,” Harry said.
“Teddy, your godfather's being unreasonable,” Ginny said.
“Only with your godmother,” Harry said, “Never with you.”
Ginny scowled. Teddy's hair turned a dark color of grey, and he started to cry again.
“Oh, you upset him,” Harry said, cuddling Teddy against him.
“He thinks we're fighting,” Ginny said, “He doesn't like that.”
“We're not fighting,” Harry said, as he kissed Teddy's head, “It is merely a disagreement. Your godmother knows she is not supposed to disagree with me on my birthday.”
“Ooh, I'll remember that for my birthday,” Ginny said.
“I knew you were going to say that,” Harry said, “We'll see you downstairs.”
“Happy birthday, my love,” Ginny said.
Harry smiled and Ginny kissed him again. He then walked out of the room and down the stairs. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and Auror Bones were sitting in the kitchen.
“Morning Harry,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Happy birthday. Is Teddy okay? I heard him make quite a fuss upstairs.”
“He just wanted to see me,” Harry said, as he set Teddy down in the high-chair.
“I was hoping you would wake up before I returned to my duties, Harry,” Bones said, “I have a birthday present for you.”
He reached into his robes, and pulled out a large brown envelope.
“I know you're interested in being an Auror,” Bones said, “And even though you're required to have a few NEWTs to get into any Auror camp, I thought I would give you information on the camps around Britain. Inside this envelope is everything you need to know about the camps. I went to Mount Heady, but I wouldn't suggest it for someone like you. As the name suggests it is high on a mountain, and the air is really thin. Imagine it as being on a broom, high in the air, twenty-four hours a day.”
“I was hoping to apply for Brighton,” Harry said, “It is where Teddy's Mum went.”
“Ah, Nymphadora,” Bones said, “Yes... she was one of the brightest rookies in her first year at the Headquarters, all thanks to Brighton. It is a very strict camp, Harry. I understand you don't like favoritism, and they won't hand it out to you on a golden platter. It is a strict school, and you'll need a fair amount of NEWTs to get into it. But that is only because the best have come from there. Teddy's mother, Alastor Moody, Gawain Robards, and even the Minister... just as an example.”
“Wonderful group to be a part of,” Mr. Weasley said.
“I'll be sure to read through the information,” Harry said, “Thank you. Have you heard anything about what happened during Ron and Hermione's anniversary dinner?”
“Actually that is the other reason I am here,” Bones said. “At least two staff members of the Blue Rose staff were placed under the Imperius Curse at one point during that evening. One of those staff members was the same waiter who had reportedly sent an anonymous bottle of wine to a young couple.”
“Ron and Hermione,” Harry said, nodding.
“Precisely,” Bones said, “That is not the only strange events of that evening. A Muggle woman was reported to have a panic attack because she did not know why she was in the restaurant. It is believed she was also placed under the Imperius Curse, and also had a Memory Charm on her, because the last thing she had remembered was walking out of her apartment to meet a blind date. Also... a man was found passed out in a dumpster, and the doctors said the most peculiar injury was that he had a few misplaced hairs yanked out of the top of his head.”
“Use of Polyjuice Potion,” Harry said, “So the Agent might have been in the restaurant and Hermione and Ron would have never known the difference.”
“No,” Bones said, “One more thing. The last strange event of the night is one particular customer of the restaurant ordered his meal and then left a few minutes later. The same table as the panicked Muggle woman. That table was reportedly very close to where Ron and Hermione were sitting.”
“A possible misuse of the Polyjuice Potion,” Harry said, “He left because his disguise would fail soon.”
“Kingsley also had an interesting theory,” Bones said. “Why would the Agent want to use Polyjuice Potion to follow Ron and Hermione?”
“Kingsley thinks Ron and Hermione could have possibly known this agent,” Harry said.
“Exactly,” Bones said.
Harry stared at Auror Bones and he realized what Kingsley's theory was.
“The Agent was a fellow student of ours,” Harry said, “Someone we would have known if we saw them.”
The expression on Auror Bones' face told Harry he was right.
An unnatural thick fog covered the small village of Ottery St. Catchpole. A fog like this frightened Agent Shadow at first. A fog cover like this in the middle of summer? At first he thought it was dementors, but the air was humid, not chilly. Nature caused this... not dementors.
It also pleased him. He could slip through the streets and nobody would think of him any differently. He wouldn't even have to use Polyjuice Potion. Not that he had any permission from Agent 314 to do so. Shadow figured he was being punished. Punished for failing his first mission and having to leave the restaurant early while there was still a chance to get more information from the targets. If he hadn't heard a couple useful bits of information, Shadow knew he would have probably been killed for his failure.
He tried to tell Agent 314, it wasn't his fault. How was he supposed to know the lacewing flies were of low quality. They had been falsely advertised as high quality! The faulty lacewing flies had cause the potion to only work half-an-hour, instead of an hour. But when he explained this to Agent 314, all he got for his troubles was the wrong end of a long-winded Cruciatus Curse. A week later, and he could still feel the effects of the curse. Agent 314 knew how to perform Unforgivable Curses quite well. Shadow just hoped he wouldn't be given the worst.
Shadow's mission was simple: Kill his target or be killed, either by his target or by Agent 314. There was no third choice – this was his second chance, and there was not a third. If Shadow failed today, his life would be “forfeit”, as Agent 314 had told him. If Shadow failed and he ran from the Agents, he knew he wouldn't get far.
No... today's mission could not be a failure.
Though he could not see it, because of the fog and very tall trees, he knew the Weasley's residence was off to the east. But that was not his destination today...
He looked toward the south, past the small village. He could just make out mountainous hills in the distance. That was the direction of his target. He knew he could not apparate there without risk of Splinching. As he walked through the village, dogs barked at the sight of him, and he saw a young couple taking an early morning jog in the distance.
He took his pocket-watch from his belt and looked at it. Barely seven in the morning. The journey would only take an hour by foot. He figured Harry Potter's birthday party wasn't scheduled until the afternoon that day. He had plenty of time to get to his destination and if he stayed there too long, he would risk being seen.
Across the road, he found a small marketplace. He could stop in for a bite to eat before he continued on his trek...
(Hermione's PoV – two hours later)
The sound of Matthew crying softly, through`the speaker, made Hermione wake with a start.
“Mmm,” Hermione groaned, “Ron, are you up? Do you want me to check on Matthew or do you want to do it?”
Hermione blinked her eyes opened then realized she couldn't feel Ron's arms wrapped around her. She turned over and found that Ron wasn't there. Her eyes traveled to the digital clock on the nightstand. It was a little after nine! She hadn't slept in this long in a while. She hurried out of bed and toward Matthew's nursery. When she opened the door, she sighed in relief. Matthew's soft crying was not because he was awake and alone in his room. Ron was there, in the beginning process of changing Matthew. Matthew was always cranky whenever it was Ron changing him, and not Hermione.
“Morning, sleepyhead,” Ron said, at the sight of Hermione.
“Want me to help?” Hermione asked.
“If it will calm him down,” Ron said, “Have at it.”
Hermione smiled and Ron moved aside for her. She cooed at Matthew, and he giggled and calmed down instantly, and she proceeded to continue Ron's work.
“Ugh, I can't believe I slept in,” she said, “The alarm didn't go off.”
“It did,” Ron said, “But I turned it off before you could wake up. I've been up for a while. Don't worry... Matty was sound asleep until just a few minutes ago.”
“He slept this long?” Hermione asked.
She frowned put the back of her hand on Matthew's forehead. It was quite cool.
“He's not sick, “Ron said, “I already checked, love. He just decided to sleep in today.”
“Probably a good thing,” Hermione said. “Today's going to be very busy for him. His first big family gathering. Don't want him to sleep through it, eh?”
“Perhaps we should allow him to have some actual sweets today?” Ron asked, “Mum's cakes are usually soft and moist, so I imagine it will be easy for him to eat.”
“Mmm... perhaps,” Hermione said, “I mean I'm not as strict as my parents when it came to sugar. But I don't want Matty to get sick.”
“Oh, come on,” Ron said, “I know you cheated on the sugar quite a bit. You even had sugar quills and those are all sugar!”
“Babies are different, Ron,” Hermione said, “It passes through them easily. He'll be quite hyper.”
“Just means he'll sleep easier tonight,” Ron said, then raised his eyebrows suggestively, “Another late night for us.”
“You have to work tomorrow,” Hermione said, “Which means I have to get up early for Matty.”
“So you can take a nap together,” Ron said, “Isn't that your usual routine with him?”
Hermione smiled. Ron was right. Many times in the afternoon, while she waited for Ron to come home, she would lay on the couch in the living room with Matthew after an exhausting day and watch him sleep on her. Half the time she would fall asleep as well. It was one of her favorite things to do with him, and he seemed to love it too.
She carefully taped Matthew's nappy so as to not get the sticky material on his skin and he giggled as she backed away.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Ron said, “Watch this.”
Hermione looked on curiously as Ron gently cuddled Matthew against him. He then put Matthew in the crib. Matthew was sitting up by himself, but he had done that for a while now. Ron gently took Matthew's hands and guided them against the bars of the crib. Matthew gripped onto the bars and looked up at Hermione. With a bit of help from Ron, Matthew slowly stood up against the bars.
“He's standing,” Hermione said, grinning.
“He did that when I tried to pick him up,” Ron said, “He needs support to do it and --”
Matthew grunted, and Ron helped him sit back down softly.
“-- he doesn't do it very long,” Ron said, “as you can see.”
Hermione walked over to the crib and gently picked up Matthew.
“Still, that was very good, Matty,” Hermione said, “If he's anything like I was, he'll be walking before his first birthday. Mum and Dad said I started walking when I was eleven months old.”
“Now if we can just get him to talk,” Ron said.
“He'll talk when he has something to say,” Hermione said, “Won't you, Matty?”
Matthew babbled indistinctly and giggled.
“I bet you're probably hungry,” Hermione said, “Harry's party doesn't begin until noon, so I think you'll be fine with a bit of breakfast.”
“Oh, speaking of Harry's party,” Ron said, “I talked to Markus and Phillip earlier. They are going with us to the Burrow. Apparently they want to help Bones and Thatcher with security.”
“They don't think something is going to happen today, do they?” Hermione asked.
“They're Aurors, Hermione,” Ron said, “They expect attacks at any moment of the day. You know how they reacted when they found out we were possibly being tracked by somebody during our anniversary dinner. Maybe the bloke will be dumb enough to show up and we can finally see who targeted us.”
“No, thank you,” Hermione said, “I have no wish of something happening with Matthew there.”
“Either way, I'd protect him and you,” Hermione said, “You know that.”
Hermione smiled and kissed Ron softly. She then walked out of the room with Matthew and headed off for the kitchen to make them some breakfast.
(Shadow's PoV – an hour and a half-later)
Shadow groaned as he climbed what he hoped was the final hill. Then he saw the top of the building. It was one of the strangest buildings he had ever seen. It looked like a rook from a chess set. He pointed his wand at himself and cast the Disillusionment Charm over himself. He then continued up the hill as the rest of the house came into view. Two men, who Shadow recognized as Aurors, were standing in front of the building. Agent 314 had warned him there would be Aurors guarding the house. He imagined one of them would probably escort the girl to the Weasley's house. Shadow turned his head and looked off in the distance for the house known as the Burrow but all he could make out were the high hedges and trees of the orchard, which afforded the crooked little house protection from Muggle eyes.
He turned back to the Lovegood's house and walked forward, keeping an eye on the two Aurors. For a split-second, he wondered if they had a way to see past his disguise, but neither of them looked in his direction. If he wasn't waiting for the precise moment to attack, he could take out the two Aurors easily.
He walked over to a grove of trees that had some oddly-shaped fruit in them, and sat down at the bottom of one. He could hear the Aurors speaking, but ignored them when he realized they were talking about Quidditch. Nothing too important at the moment.
He looked at his pocket-watch. Almost eleven... He expected Miss Lovegood would be leaving soon to go to Harry's party. So now it was just a waiting game... sit there and wait and hope that his Disillusionment Charm didn't fail him.
As long as he wasn't seen. As long as nobody could identify him, he would get through this day easily. Hopefully it was a day that ended with a successful mission, and Agent 314 would feel he was trustworthy again. He felt chills up his spine as his thoughts turned to the endgame....
…he was going to commit his first ever act of murder.
Cliffhanger! It is obvious Shadow's target is one of the Lovegood's, but which one?
Next chapter is the party portion of Harry's birthday! At first, this chapter was going to be all in Harry's and Shadow's PoVs... then I realized I wanted it to end in a cliffhanger, and I didn't want to focus on the party yet, so I used Hermione's PoVs in the chapter as well.
Hope you liked it!
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Harry's Birthday, Part 2
Author's Note: This chapter will switch many times between Harry and Shadow's PoVs.
The aroma of Mrs. Weasley's delicious cooking wafted in to the living room, and it made Harry's mouth water. He was currently sitting on the couch, and Teddy was sleeping in a baby-seat near him. The party would start in an hour, and a few guests had already arrived: Bill, Fleur, George and Angelina. Andromeda would be coming over soon, as would Luna, and Harry expected that Hermione and Ron were still trying to get Matthew ready before they would arrive. Charlie wouldn't be able to come, but he had sent Harry a picture of him standing next to Norberta the dragon, was quite large and almost unrecognizable since Harry had only seen her as a baby.
He could see Fleur and Angelina assisting with the cooking, and talking animatedly with Mrs. Weasley. The back door opened, and Ginny stomped into the living room, looking rather furious.
“Ginny, don't be so loud,” Harry said, “Teddy's asleep.”
“Sorry,” Ginny said, as she sat down next to Harry, “I just hate my brother sometimes.”
“Which one?” Harry asked.
“George,” Ginny said, pouting, “He kept trying to tell me how to set up the tables and put the tablecloths on right. Like I haven't done them plenty of times before. I think being my boss has gone to that thick head of his. I threatened him that I'd quit my job, and he only laughed at me.”
“Oh, relax,” Harry said, “It is only for another month, then you'll go back to Hogwarts. And after Hogwarts – who knows? Don't you want to try out for the Professional Quidditch league? What was the team you desired joining?” Wimbourne Wasps? Puddlemere United?”
“Holyhead Harpies, as you bloody well know,” Ginny said.
“Oh, that's right,” Harry said, “I do remember seeing the posters in your room – and the bedsheets, and the --”
Ginny put a finger on Harry's lips and he grinned.
“That is enough about my obsession,” Ginny said, grinning, “which is very healthy by the way.”
“So,” Harry said, “how are the Harpies doing?”
“Their season opener against Puddlemere United is next Saturday,” Ginny said, then pouted, “For once, I wish I could go to a game. Even if I wanted to go, George wants me to work on that Saturday since I'll be missing a day of work for my birthday.”
“Oh, that's a pity,” Harry said, “Because I had these tickets --”
Ginny's eyes widened as she looked at him. A smirk crossed his lips as he pulled two small pieces of thick parchment out of his robes. Ginny snatched them from him.
“These – these are tickets for the game!” Ginny said, her eyes sparkling as she looked at them, “And -- no – are these VIP tickets?”
Harry nodded. “Horace Slughorn gave them to me. I guess he's trying to get back on my good side since he apparently thinks I am angry at him. Don't know why... he did take part in the battle, though at first he wasn't thinking about it. Anyway, apparently VIPs get to meet the Captain too.”
“Gwenog Jones?” Ginny asked.
“That is what Horace said,” Harry said, then took the tickets from Ginny. “They were going to be an early birthday present. But – since you have to work that day, I suppose I could give them to Ron and Hermione as a late anniversary --”
He was quelled once again when Ginny kissed him. He chuckled against her lips and returned the kiss. Ginny pouted again as she backed away from him.
“Something wrong?” Harry asked.
“Damn it,” Ginny said, “Now I have to tell George I'll work the next Saturday instead. Oh, he's going to be such a bother. I probably have to be really nice to him between now and then.”
“It is only for a week,” Harry said.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Ginny said, grinning, before pecking him on the lips, “Oh, I love you! So much! I don't deserve you.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “If that's the case, then perhaps I will give these tickets to --”
Ginny kissed him again. “I was joking! I deserve you more than I'll ever know.”
“That is a very nice start,” Harry said, grinning, “But... perhaps I'll give a ticket to Ron and keep one for me.”
“You're such a prat,” Ginny said, shaking her head.
She kissed him again, but before he could return the kiss, he was interrupted by four CRACKS and one smaller pop. The noise woke Teddy up and he started to cry.
“Oh, Teddy,” Harry said, as he picked his godson up and cuddled him to calm him down,, “It is okay. Just more guests coming. I'm sorry that is so loud.”
“Ron, Hermione, Matthew and their two Aurors are here,” Mrs. Weasley announced from the kitchen.
“Finally,” Ginny said.
Harry smiled and carefully stood up. He followed Ginny through the kitchen. Hermione was carrying Matthew in her arms, and Ron was carrying his baby-seat and bag. Auror Markus was behind them escorting them down the driveway, his eyes darting back and forth at his surroundings. A large black and tan-colored dog, whom Harry knew was the Animagus Auror, Phillip, was sitting at the start of the driveway next to Auror Thatcher to help keep watch.
“Took you long enough,” Harry said, and gave Hermione a one-armed hug, so he wouldn't crowd Matthew, when she made her way up to him, “Thought you were going to be late.”
“Someone had a late start,” Ron said, and hugged Harry, “Happy Birthday by the way, mate.”
“Matthew slept in again?” Ginny asked.
“He did,” Ron said, “But Hermione slept in longer. Didn't wake up until nine. Between her making breakfast, taking a shower and getting Matthew ready, it took us this long to get done, meet with the Aurors, and get here. I offered to help out, but Matthew's having one of those big-sister phases, where he wants her to do everything.”
“And I don't trust Ron's cooking skills when it comes to Matthew's diet,” Hermione said, which only caused Ron to scowl lightly.
“What's with the escorts?” Ginny asked.
“Markus and Phillip insisted on coming along,” Ron said.
“Is there rumors of a possible party crasher?” Harry asked Markus.
“No, sir,” Markus said, “Just trying to be vigilant, especially after the apparent stalker during Ron and Hermione's anniversary dinner.”
“What?” Hermione asked Markus, “You know more about it? You kept that silent!”
“Sorry, ma'am,” Markus said, “I wasn't sure if I had the right just yet.”
Hermione growled. “I thought we agreed that Ron and I needed to know these things. For our safety, and for the safety of my brother. That is your job, isn't it?”
“Yes, ma'am,” Markus said, “I apologize. It was Kingsley's orders.”
“Kingsley's orders?” Harry echoed, “Auror Bones told me a couple hours ago.”
“So Auror Bones could tell you,” Ron asked, “But Markus couldn't tell us.”
“Come on in,” Harry said, “Let's get Matthew settled in, and then I'll explain it to you...”
Meanwhile at the Lovegood house, Shadow was growing bored. He was sure Harry Potter's party would be starting soon, and the girl had not left the house yet. Was she wanting to arrive fashionably late? His Disillusionment Charm wouldn't last all day, and he knew it was dangerous to apply it more than once every few hours. There were reports of wizards using the Disillusionment Charm on themselves twice in three hours and only reappearing to everyone months later. That was good if you didn't want to be seen, but it wasn't what Shadow wanted to do.
As he thought about the target, his plan, and how he was going to do it in a way where he would not fail, he had started to grow more anxious. He closed his eyes and envisioned the prize. He tried to think of the reason he was here. This mission was only one piece of the puzzle Agent 314 wanted to put together. And Shadow had accepted his role gratefully. If Agent 314's endgame was to get revenge on those who took down the Dark Lord and many of his Death Eaters, then Shadow was going to try to be a part of it until the end. He had his own role to play, and the rewards would satisfy him. The thoughts of the rewards calmed him down.
Five minutes passed by and finally the front door of the the house opened. The two Aurors looked back toward it, and Shadow wondered who would emerge. Then the young blonde-haired girl walked through the doorway, then turned back and looked through it. She was wearing a bright red dress that seemed to be made – if Shadow wasn't wrong – out of bedsheets. A small thick, leather purse was draped over her shoulder.
“Are you sure you don't want to come with me, Daddy?” Luna Lovegood asked, “You could tell him the story about how you got the Snorcack horn...”
Shadow could not hear Xenophilius' voice, but it seemed he was responding to his daughter.
“Oh, I never tell the stories as good as you do,” Luna said, “Everyone tends to believe you. They just laugh at me.... I know, I should just ignore them. I need to go or I am going to be late! I'll see you soon, Daddy. Love you.”
“Ready to go, Miss Lovegood?” one of the Aurors asked.
Luna turned around and hopped down the stairs.
“Yes, Xavier, thank you taking me,” Luna said, “I haven't gotten my Apparation license yet.”
“Soon, my love,” Xenophilius' voice said, “Very soon.”
Shadow watched as Luna and the Auror Xavier walked across the yard and toward the hill. A minute later, they Disapparated with a CRACK.
Shadow's eyes traveled to Xenophilius. Xenophilius talked in whispers to the other Auror, and Shadow immediately spotted the strange symbol around his neck.
It was the golden triangular eye, the one Agent 314 had mentioned...
Xenophilius retreated inside and the Auror followed him. Shadow cursed under his breath. He wanted a good clean shot at the Auror... and now he would have to deal with him inside the house....
…. he would have to wait a little longer, and modify his plan. This might be a little more difficult than he had anticipated.
(Harry's PoV – moments earlier)
“So Kingsley reckons it may be someone we know?” Hermione asked, “Perhaps a fellow student of ours?”
“Someone you would have recognized if he wasn't using Polyjuice Potion,” Harry said, “Yes.”
The four friends were back in the living room. Matthew was laying in his baby-seat, though he was wide-awake, and his eyes were traveling around to everyone. Teddy was asleep again in Ginny's arms.
“Maybe it is Malfoy,” Ron said. “He was in the Great Hall when you and Voldemort were dueling. He'd know about the Elder Wand.”
“I don't think it is Malfoy,” Hermione said, “We saved his life from that fire in the Room of Requirement --”
“-- which also killed Vincent Crabbe, Hermione,” Ron said, “Malfoy's friend.”
“Crabbe started the fire, didn't he?” Ginny asked.
“I agree with Hermione,” Harry said, “I doubt it is Malfoy.”
“But you said it yourself, mate!” Ron said, “He was the owner of the Elder Wand and he didn't know it. Perhaps, now he knows it and he wants it back.”
“It is Agent 314 who wants the Elder Wand, Ron,” Harry said, “The Agent in the restaurant was just working for him like Scabior.”
“I doubt Malfoy is Agent 314,” Hermione said, “He isn't the kind of bloke who would use the Pi numbers as a pseudonym. Nor do I think he was the Agent at the restaurant.”
“Also how do we know your stalker is a bloke,” Ginny said. “Could be a girl.”
“A girl?” Ron asked, “He impersonated a guy, Ginny!”
“Would be a genius disguise,” Ginny said, “Though I admit it would be fairly uncomfortable if I was in a bloke's body.
“Either way,” Hermione said, “If it is one of our other fellow students and not Malfoy, then who?”
Before anyone could give a suggestion, two more cracks were heard and Teddy started crying again. Matthew, however, seemed to have ignored it. He was only staring at Teddy.
“We really need to put up a Muffliato charm,” Ginny said, as she tried to calm down Teddy.
Harry stood up and walked back toward the kitchen. Luna and a man dressed in an Auror outfit were walking down the driveway.
“Hello, Harry,” Luna said, “Happy eighteenth. You look very smart in those robes. Am I late?”
“Thank you, Luna,” Harry said, “No, not at all. Ron, Hermione and Matthew just arrived a few minutes ago themselves.”
“Daddy wanted to come, but he's too busy with the Quibbler,” Luna said, “This is Xavier, one of the Aurors guarding me and Daddy, I do not think you've met before?”
“No,” Harry said, “Nice to meet you, Xavier.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Potter,” Xavier said, “Happy birthday.”
“Thank you,” Harry said.
“Will you be okay, Miss Lovegood?” Xavier asked, “I must talk to the other Aurors.”
“Yes, I am fine,” Luna said, “Say hi to that dog too. He's very obedient.”
“He is an Animagus,” Harry said, “One of the Aurors protecting Ron and Hermione.”
“Really?” Luna asked, “I wonder why he was trying to sniff me...”
Harry snickered and led Luna inside.
“Hello, Luna, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said, “How are you?”
“Hello, Mrs. Weasley, Angelina, Fleur,” Luna said, “I am fine, thank you.”
Harry led Luna into the living room. She immediately went over to Ginny and kneeled down near Teddy, and made a face. Teddy who was still crying softly, stopped and his hair went to the blonde color of Luna's.
“You look very dashing in blonde, Theodore,” Luna said.
Harry grinned and sat back down.
“So... I'm thinking we should get a replacement for Markus our protection,” Hermione said, frowning, “I still can't believe he didn't tell us that information.”
“He said Kingsley didn't allow it,” Ron said, “Kingsley is his boss as much as Robards is.”
“And yet Auror Bones was allowed to tell the information to Harry?” Hermione asked, “We were the ones who was being stalked, Ronald! No – I don't like that – I'm sorry.”
“Fine,” Ron said, then looked at Harry and Ginny, “Is Percy here yet?”
“Percy said he might be late,” Ginny said, “But I'm sure he'll be here.”
“Okay,” Ron said, then looked back at Hermione, “When he arrives, I'll ask him to set up a meeting with Kingsley, and we can go tomorrow. How is that, Hermione?”
“Thank you,” Hermione said, and kissed him on the cheek, “I trust Phillip, but – when it comes to Markus, well, it is just an instinct, you know – even if he isn't a Dark wizard, keeping information from us is a big deal.”
Harry nodded in agreement. If Auror Thatcher or Bones kept any information from him, he would want them replaced as well. Especially if the Agents were working actively again....
Shadow crept across the yard and over to the nearest window of the Lovegood house. He peered in and saw the Auror walking around the large living room – at least he was sure it was a living room. There was a couch and a chair, though they were hardly noticeable under all the stacks of books and copies of the Quibbler magazine on them. He looked around, trying to find Xenophilius, but he couldn't see him. Then he saw stairs leading up to the second floor. Xenophilius had to be up there... which means he would need to get past the Auror to get up there.
Shadow slowly crept around the wall of the house and over to the front door.
“Mr. Lovegood?” the Auror said, and Shadow saw him on the other side of the room, “Are you aware you have a highly combustible Erumpent horn hanging on your wall?”
“That is the horn of a the Crumple-Horned Snorcack, my dear mate,” Xenophilius' voice rang from the second floor, “Easy mistake. Erumpent horns are much smaller, and I promise you this one isn't combustible. Highly magical though – lets your mind relax if you ever feel troubled.”
Shadow scoffed, and he realized his mistake just as the Auror turned. The Auror was looking right at him – had the Disillusionment Charm lifted? The Auror opened his mouth to speak up, and warn Xenophilius, but Shadow was quicker.
“Langlock!” Shadow whispered, “Expelliarmus!”
The Auror tried to say words, but he gagged against his tongue. The Auror dived toward the ground, in search of his wand, which had only flown halfway across the room. Shadow pointed his wand at the man, ready to use the Killing Curse on him, when he heard Xenophilius' footsteps move across the floor. Shadow aimed his wand at the Auror, but the Auror rolled away under the couch. Shadow sent a spell at him and the spell bounced off the table.
“Auror Willows?” Xenophilius asked, “What was that?”
Shadow narrowed his eyes and hurried across the room toward the stairs. He pointed his wand up the stairs. Xenophilius saw him and yelped.
“No!” he said, “No – please!”
Xenophilius backed away and Shadow made his way toward the second floor, his wand still on Lovegood.
“My boss has sent me with a message,” Shadow said, “Avada –!”
An enormous explosion rang out from the bottom floor, and he felt the floor under him shudder. Suddenly, it collapsed, sending him and Xenophilius falling through the air.
“Arresto Momentum!” Shadow said, in a panic.
He landed on debris with a soft thud and looked around. He looked around the room and searched for his target. The Auror was laying on the ground a few feet away, buried under rubble. Shadow was sure he was dead. He continued his search and found Xenophilius across the room. He was not moving but Shadow needed to make sure. He pointed his wand at his target, ready for the kill –
Suddenly, he heard a large rumble above him and his eyes widened. The house was going to cave in around him. He knew he didn't have time for the spell. He just hoped the target was dead. He closed his eyes, hoping an Anti-Disapparation Charm was not up, and felt himself settle into darkness as he Apparated, his target ,many miles away from Ottery St. Catchpole.
Harry looked around the two picnic tables with a grin on his face. He was sitting with most of the extended Weasley family, including Percy who had only arrived as the food was being set on the table, Hermione, Andromeda and Luna. Teddy was sitting in one of the high-chairs at the end of his table near Harry and Ginny, and Matthew was in another one at the other end of the table near Hermione and Ron.
For Harry, it was hard to believe that almost three months ago, this was the sight of a quiet dinner after Fred's funeral, and now they were here celebrating his birthday. Laughter, smiles and conversation was heard around each table.
“ – that the first weekend of the August is always a big one, Ginny!” George said, “We need you.”
“This is my birthday present from Harry, George,” Ginny said, “Let Ron do it.”
“Do what?” Ron asked.
“Ron, can you work at the shop next Saturday?” Ginny asked, “I was planning on it, but that was until I found out Harry is taking us to the Puddlemere and Holyhead match.”
“Er --” Ron said, “I don't know, Ginny, Matthew's next appointment with the pedi-guy is on Saturday.”
“Oh, I can take him alone, Ron,” Hermione said.
“But --” Ron said, “Are you sure? I mean Ginny could just reschedule...”
“Quidditch, Ron,” Ginny said, “We can't reschedule a Quidditch match. And it is my birthday gift! Tell him, Harry.”
Harry, who was in the middle of feeding Teddy, looked up at Ginny, then Ron.
“What she said,” Harry said, before he returned his attention to Teddy.
“Fine,” Ron grumbled, “I'll do it, Ginny, but that is my birthday present to you! Nothing else.”
“Good enough for me,” Ginny said, grinning, “I reckon we'll have to take one of the Aurors with us, Harry. I wonder if Bones likes Quidditch.”
“Speaking of Aurors,” Hermione said, “Ron...”
“Huh?” Ron asked, “Oh, oh yeah. Percy – erm – do you know if Kingsley has any free time for a brief meeting tomorrow? Hermione and I want to talk to him about matters concerning one of the Aurors protecting us.”
“I'll see what I can do,” Percy said, “He is quite busy – but if this is about your protection, I could try to dot you in for a meeting.”
“Er – what is that dog doing?” Luna asked.
Harry turned around and saw the Auror, Phillip, running toward them in his Animagus form. His last stride was a jump and he appeared in his human form.
“Is everything okay, Philip?” Hermione asked.
“Miss Lovegood,” Phillip said, “As you may know, Aurors and our partners have a magical bond when we partner up lets us know if the other in danger. Xavier sensed that danger was happening with his partner.”
“But his partner was with Daddy!” Luna said, “What happened?”
Harry looked from Luna to Phillip.
“I am not sure yet,” Phillip said, “But I advise you and everyone stay here until we know.”
Suddenly a CRACK was heard and Harry, and everyone else looked toward the direction of the driveway. He said something to the three Aurors there, and Thatcher and Markus Apparated with him. Bones headed toward the direction of the table.
“Something's wrong,” Hermione said.
“Daddy?” Luna said, “No...”
Auror Bones crossed the yard and over to the table.
“Miss Lovegood,” Bones said, “I need you to come with me now. Aurors and mediwizards will be arriving at your house shortly. According to Xavier, your house was just attacked and Auror Willows was killed. Your father is alive, but Xavier believes he is in a coma.”
Well, I was going to have the party last a little longer, but because of the attack, and the time it happened and when the party took place, I didn't want it to look like a lot of time had passed between the attack and the discovery.
More to come! Don't know if I'll have a PoV of someone visiting Xenophilius. But I do have plans for the aftermath of this event.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Author's Note: Couldn't figure out a proper title for this chapter. My apologies. I'm no good at describing presents, so I am only going to write out a couple of them.
“So,” Ron said, with an air of one discussing the weather, “not one of your better birthdays, Harry, is it?.”
“Don't let Hermione hear a comment like that,” Ginny said, looking up from the baby-carrier where Teddy was asleep after a big meal, “She's likely to smack you on the back of your head.”
“Exactly why I said it,” Ron said, “because she can't hear me. She's upstairs in the bathroom trying to wash cake out of Matthew's shirt.”
“Ah, that explains the shirtless baby,” Ginny said, then smiled at Matthew.
Matthew giggled from his own baby-carrier, and this only caused Harry to chuckle. It felt good to chuckle, because he hadn't done so in half-an-hour. It had been that long since Harry's party had turned to almost a standstill, owing to the news of the attack on Luna's father. Harry could still see Luna's dazed face, tears sparkling in her eyes, as she stood up from the table and walked toward the start of the Burrow's driveway with Auror Bones.
Even though this wasn't the time to celebrate, Mrs. Weasley had brought out her homemade cake and almost everyone had a piece of it, so Mrs. Weasley's cooking wouldn't go to waste. There was no birthday song for Harry; he didn't want one after all of this. In fact he hadn't opened any of his presents either, although they were currently sitting on the coffee table in front of him in the living room.
“At least open my present, Harry,” Ginny said.
“Yours?” Ron asked, “What about mine?”
“Girlfriend before best mate,” Ginny said, “Besides, I want to see his reaction.”
“Oh, right,” Ron said, sarcastically, “I forgot he's going somewhere. He bloody lives here, for Merlin's sake!”
“Ronald,” Hermione said, appearing on the stairwell, “That better not be harsh language I hear, especially when my impressionable little brother is right next to you.”
“No, dear,” Ron said, grinning at Harry, “Not at all.”
“I didn't think so,” Hermione said.
She kneeled in front of Matthew and gently put the shirt on him.
“All clean and proper again,” Hermione said, “Just like my brother should be.”
Matthew babbled and giggled.
“Oh, Merlin,” Hermione sighed, as she stole a spot on the couch between Ron and her brother, “Why did I let him have that piece of cake?”
“If I remember,” Ron said, “it was so he could sleep off the night and allow us to have another special moment tonight.”
“Special moment?” Ginny asked, then her face turned up in disgust as Harry snickered, “Thanks, Ron for that nice little picture in my head.”
“I swear, Ronald,” Hermione said, “If Matthew wasn't here in the room, I'd smack you upside the head for that comment.”
“Did you hear that, Matthew?” Ron said, “You have a very violent-prone sissy.”
“Sissy,” Matthew said.
Harry's eyes widened as did Ginny's, Ron and Hermione's as they looked at Matthew.
“His first word!” Hermione said, before kissing Matthew on the forehead, “Oh, Matthew, that was wonderful.”
“Hey, what about me?” Ron asked, “He echoed me – that is how he said his first word.”
“Mmhmm, you're right he echoed you,” Hermione said, “So I better not hear any rude words from your mouth, you hear me? ”
Harry snickered and Ron rolled his eyes.
“Come on, Matthew, can you say it again?” Hermione asked, “Say 'sissy'.”
Matthew babbled indistinctly.
“One word for now, it seems,” Harry said.
“That's okay,” Hermione said, “That was very good.”
“Brilliant,” Ron said, “Soon, I'll have another mouthy Granger to deal with.”
“Mouthy?” Hermione asked, “If I remember right, you love my mouth.”
“Ugh, Hermione, not you too,” Ginny said, “I'm going to have nightmares.”
“I meant kissing!” Hermione said, blush crossing her face.
Harry sighed and picked up the smallest box on the stack of presents. He looked at Ginny, and she nodded, indicating it was from her. He slowly unwrapped it, and found that it was a small, white box. He opened the box and found a silver ring with a ruby on top.
“It is a promise ring,” Ginny said, “Though I wanted it to be different so I wouldn't copy Ron and Hermione's.”
Harry picked up the ring so Ron and Hermione could see it.
“Another ruby?” Hermione asked, “Ginny --”
“I swear, it is not enchanted like that,” Ginny said, grinning, “It is a ruby because it is Harry's birthstone. Also – I know this isn't traditional, Harry, but --“
She dug into her pocket and pulled out another ring. It had a green stone on top of it.
“This one is for me,” Ginny said, looking at Harry, “Technically it could be your birthday present to me, but you already gave me the tickets for the match. The gem is something called peridot, my birthstone, I guess.”
“I love it,” Harry said, leaning toward Ginny and kissing her briefly. “Thank you.”
Harry placed the ring on his finger.
“It is my promise to you,” Ginny said. “I am yours forever.”
“Oh, please,” Ron said, “Harry, open ours. You'll love it.”
“Actually I think your Dad will love it more, Ron,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes.
Ron nudged one of the bigger presents toward Harry and he took it and opened it. He found a couple of baby-oriented walkie-talkies. Harry raised his eyebrows as he looked at Ron.
“It is so you can hear Teddy,” Ron said, “Where ever you are.”
“Not where ever you are,” Hermione said, “It has a limit in distance. I just hope it works with magical interference.”
“Ours does,” Ron said.
“Yeah, but this house has a lot more magic around it,” Hermione said, “Anyway, whenever Teddy is here, and he is asleep in his crib during the day, just have one on his crib, and carry the other around with you or Ginny. You'll be able to hear him if he cries.”
“Thanks,” Harry said, grinning.
“I kept telling Ron we should get something for you,” Hermione said, “Instead of you and Teddy, but he wouldn't listen. He is obsessed with ours.”
“I am not obsessed,” Ron said, “But you're welcome, Harry.”
“No, actually I love this,” Harry said, “This means Ginny can stay in her room with Teddy at night and I can have this in my room and listen for him.”
“But I like your bed,” Ginny said, pouting.
“Ahem,” Ron said, “I hope you remember that was my bed.”
“Very comfortable too,” Ginny said, grinning.
Harry heard a sound of someone clearing their throat, and he looked up to see Auror Bones and Mrs. Weasley there.
“Just thought you would like to know,” Bones said, “Xenophilius Lovegood is now in St. Mungo's in the Janus Thickey Ward.
“But,” Harry said, looking at Hermione, “Isn't that the ward for Permanent and Long-Lasting Curses? The one Neville's parents are in?”
“Yes,” Bones said, “Unfortunately magic cannot wake patients in a coma. The Healers have to let it run its course. They are sure he'll wake up, but they do not know how long that will be. He has other injures, external and internal, which can be healed while he is in a coma.”
“But – what about Luna?” Ginny asked.
“We've offered to let her stay here at the Burrow for the month of August,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Until either her father wakes up or until she goes back to Hogwarts.”
“I'm sure she'll like that,” Hermione said.
“What happened?” Harry asked.
“Until Xenophilius wakes up,” Bones said, “We cannot know exactly. But what I can say is this. Two of the top floors of the house collapsed into the bottom. Pieces of an Erumpent horn was found --”
Hermione gasped. “Those are highly combustible!”
“Correct,” Bones said, “Because Xenophilius was found on top of some debris, it is believed that he was on the second floor. Whoever attacked him had to be inside the building. Because the Erumpent horn exploded, it is believe that in the last act of his life, Auror Willows cast a spell at which caused the floors to collapse. If the attacker was believed to be up on the same floor as Xenophilius when the floor collapsed, they must have escaped, because there are no signs of them anywhere.
“So... basically Auror Willows saved Mr. Lovegood's life while taking his own?” Ron asked.
“Sadly, yes,” Bones said.
“Did he have any family?” Harry asked.
“A wife and young daughter,” Bones said.
“Give them my sympathies,” Harry said, “Use my name if it will mean anything to them.”
“Of course,” Bones said, then walked back out of the room.
“I will go set up George's room for Luna,” Mrs. Weasley said, and disappeared up the steps. Percy walked in from the kitchen.
“Ron, Hermione,” Percy said, “If you want to talk to Kingsley today, instead of tomorrow, I am on my way to the Ministry to get caught up on the attack. I'm sure Kingsley will allow a few moments of your time.”
“What do you think Hermione?” Ron asked, “Is Matthew up for a meeting with Kingsley?”
“He seems wide awake for now,” Hermione said, “And he is very calm. And it is probably a good idea to go tonight. Then we don't have to do it tomorrow.”
“We'll only be a minute, Percy,” Ron said.
“I'll be outside,” Percy said.
Ron and Hermione stood up. Harry stood up and Hermione hugged him.
“Happy birthday again, Harry,” she said. “I hope you had a good time at least?”
“Good enough,” Harry said, smiling, “Thank you.”
“Happy birthday, mate,” Ron said, and gave Harry a one-armed hug.
“Tell us if Matthew says anything else,” Ginny said.
“I'm sure after a bit of encouragement, he'll say a few more words,” Hermione said.
“Perhaps one or two more by the time I go into work on Monday,” Ron said.
“See you soon, Matty,” Ginny said, gently taking one of his hands in her, “Can you say Ginny?”
Matthew babbled and giggled.
“Aw well,” Ginny said.
Ginny hugged Hermione and Ron. Hermione picked up Matthew's baby-carrier, and Ron took the bag, and they made their way out of the Burrow. Harry turned back to Ginny. She picked up the walkie-talkie box and looked at it.
“You know,” Ginny said, “We both could sleep in your room, and still be able to listen for Teddy.”
“Maybe soon,” Harry said.
“As in my birthday?” Ginny asked.
Harry rolled his eyes and looked at his new promise ring.
“Thank you for this,” he said, “Means a lot to me.”
“I thought it might,” Ginny said, grinning.
She kissed him softly and he returned the kiss. Before he could lose himself in it, however, Teddy woke up and started crying.
“Oh,” Ginny said, turning up her nose, “I think his meal went through him already.”
Harry picked Teddy up and rubbed his hand gently along Teddy's backside.
“You're right,” Harry said, “My turn?”
“Definitely, birthday boy,” Ginny said.
“I thought as much,” Harry said, and started off up toward Ginny's bedroom.
(Hermione's PoV – fifteen minutes later)
“Level One,” a cool voice said, “Minster of Magic and Support Staff.”
Matthew looked around from his baby-carrier in Hermione's arms, curiously, for the invisible voice as the golden grilles opened. Hermione and Ron followed Percy out of the lifts and down the hallway.
It had been almost a year since Hermione had been on this level of the Ministry of Magic. She remembered it as if it was written on the back of her hand. She and Ron had gone into, what was then, Dolores Umbridge's office, looking for the locket Horcrux. Harry had been in, what was then, Rufus Scrimgeour's office and had found him dead on the floor and Harry right by his body with the locket in his hand.
Hermione looked at Ron, who was looking around nervously, and knew he must have been thinking about the same thing. When they walked into the large waiting room outside the Minister's Office and the two offices where Percy and Senior Undersecretary Runcorn worked. Two Aurors were standing guard outside Kingsley's office.
“Junior Undersecretary Percy Weasley requesting a meeting with Minister Shacklebolt,” Percy said to the Aurors, “Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Matthew Granger will be my guests. I can vouch for them.”
“I can only allow you a few minutes, Undersecretary,” one of the Aurors said, “He has urgent meetings with Gawain Robards and Senior Undersecretary Runcorn shortly.”
Percy nodded. Hermione noticed the Auror's eyes went toward Matthew's baby carrier and baby bag.
“We aren't hiding anything,” Ron muttered, “If that is what you're thinking. It is just a baby carrier and his things.”
“Ron, be polite,” Percy said, “As I said, I can vouch for them.”
“Just being vigilant,” the Auror said.
He opened the door and Hermione followed Percy and Ron inside. Kingsley was sitting at his desk writing something on a piece of paper. He looked up at them and stood up.
“Minister,” Percy said, “I was hoping we could have a few minutes of your time, if it is not any bother.”
“No bother at all!” Kingsley said, “I need a break. Have a seat.”
He waved his wand and three chairs appeared in front of his desk. Hermione's eyes traveled to the portion of the floor where Rufus Scrimgeour had laid dead almost a year ago.
It has been quite a while since I've met young Matthew. He's getting quite big.”
“Yes,” Hermione said, wrenching her eyes back toward Kingsley.
He just said his first word not an hour ago,” Ron said, as he sat down in one of the chairs.
“Ron, I'm sure the Minister doesn't want to hear about that,” Hermione said, as she sat down in the one next to him, and set Matthew's baby-carrier in her lap.
“On the contrary,” Kingsley said, “That is wonderful news. May I ask what the first word was?”
“Sissy,” Hermione said, “Short for sister?”
“Mmm, yes,” Kingsley said, “Brilliant. We need some news like this after such a troubling day.”
“Have you heard any more about a possible culprit, Minister?” Percy asked, “I was going to talk to the Auror Office as soon as we finished here.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Kingsley said. “Though a clerk in the marketplace in Ottery St. Catchpole did come across a young man earlier in the day that had never been there before. In fact, reports say he may have been as young as you two.”
He motioned to Ron and Hermione when he said it.
“We heard you had a theory,” Hermione said, “that the stalker that eavesdropped on our anniversary dinner may have been someone who knew us?”
“Yes,” Kingsley said.
“We think it might be a fellow student from Hogwarts,” Hermione said.
“And if this stranger in the marketplace,” Ron said, “was Xenophilius' attacker –“
“We could be talking about the same person,” Kingsley said, “Yes.”
“But if the attacker knew Ron and Hermione,” Percy said, “Why did they choose to attack Xenophilius. His daughter is one of the reported targets. Luna, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Harry were all at the Burrow. Five reported targets. Why attack Xenophilius?”
“Maybe he thought Luna was there,” Ron said.
“The sign of the Deathly Hallows,” Hermione said, and Kingsley nodded, “Xenophilius wears the sign around his neck.
“Xenophilius is a Quester,” Kingsley said. “This is the fourth reported Quester attacked, though the previous three were all murdered more than three months ago.”
“I thought that was a simple theory, sir,” Percy said, “After the first three murders, the trail went cold.”
“Seems like it is warm again,” Ron said.
“Yes,” Kingsley said. “Is this why you wished to talk to me?”
“No, sir,” Hermione said, “Er – I was hoping we could request a different Auror to protect us, other than Markus.”
“Is something wrong with Markus?” Kingsley asked.
Hermione looked at Ron, and he motioned for her to continue.
“I don't know if it was your order or not,” Hermione said, looking back at the Minister, “But I think Markus was withholding information from myself and Ron. He knew more information about the eavesdropping incident, and he was keeping it from us. Auror Bones gave the information to Harry, and I feel like Markus should have given it to us too. We had to find out from Harry. I just feel that because this was something that concerned the safety of myself, Ron and my brother that we should have known these things.”
“I asked him to tell you this morning,” Kingsley said, “And yet you say Harry had to tell you?”
“Yes, sir,” Hermione said. “Sir, I do not think Markus is untrustworthy, or a traitor or anything like that. I just feel like I need someone more trustworthy if they are going to be protecting my brother. Even though Markus has been guarding us this long, I just feel --”
“Say no more, Miss Granger,” Kingsley said, “I will have a replacement as soon as possible. In fact – Percy?”
“Yes, sir?” Percy asked.
“You say you were headed to the Auror Office shortly,” Kingsley said, “Could you do a thorough search of the Aurors and find – oh, let's say three Aurors you feel are good enough. Send them my way and I will ask them my own questions.”
“Of course, sir,” Percy said, “I can do that right now.”
Kingsley nodded and Percy stood up and left the office.
“I will send a message to Phillip and Markus,” Kingsley said, “I won't let Markus know what is going on. I will just tell him his duties are needed elsewhere.”
“Thank you, sir,” Hermione said, “I'm sorry if this is any inconvenience.”
“No inconvenience at all,” Kingsley said, “You are targets of the new threat in the wizarding world. I do not take your safety with a grain of salt. You already have enough on your hands without having to deal with someone you do not completely trust.”
“Yes, sir,” Hermione said.
“If memory serves me correctly,” Kingsley said, “The Hogwarts letters will be sent out tomorrow. Of course, you two will be getting your NEWT exam invitations. Have thought about taking them?”
“We've put some thought into it,” Ron said, “I fancy becoming an Auror and I need NEWTs for it.”
“You would make an outstanding Auror, Mr. Weasley,” Kingsley said, “Any thoughts about the training camps you want to go to?”
“Brighton, perhaps,” Ron said, “Harry wanted to go there too.”
“My old stomping grounds,” Kingsley said, “Excellent choice. If you take your NEWTs and do well enough on it, I will send a letter of recommendation myself to Brighton. I don't think they will say 'no'.”
“I couldn't ask you to do that,” Ron said, blushing.
“You've done a great service to the wizarding world,” Kingsley said, “It would be no burden of mine. Besides, I could use someone like you and Harry in our Auror department in the future.”
“Yes, sir,” Ron said.
“And you?” Kingsley asked Hermione.
“I'm deciding on either the Magical Creature department,” Hermione said, “Or perhaps being a part of the Law division. But I've also decided to wait a while to do that. I still haven't decided if I could stand being away from Matthew for the two weeks needed to take the NEWTs.”
“Mum could watch him, Hermione,” Ron said, “How many times have I said that?”
“I know,” Hermione said.
She looked down at Matthew and saw that he was falling asleep.
“I think we better get going,” Hermione said, standing up, “I don't want to apparate with Matty if he is asleep. Thank you for your time, Minister.”
“Not at all,” Kingsley said. “If you need anything else, do not hesitate to request a meeting.”
“Thank you, Minister,” Ron said, “Have a good day.”
Kingsley bowed his goodbye and Hermione followed Ron out of the office.
Shadow paced back and forth in the rundown motel room he had made his temporary hiding spot. It was the late hours of the evening – or perhaps it was past midnight, he did not know – and his head was pounding from the three bottles of firewhiskey he had downed in two hours. Shadow knew he couldn't send a letter to Agent 314 until he knew if Xenophilius Lovegood was dead or not. If Lovegood wasn't dead, Shadow would be unless he ran away or did something that would make him better in Agent 314's eyes. What that was – he did not know. He didn't know what other choice he had.
He could not return home yet – and if Lovegood wasn't dead – he couldn't return at all. Not that he had much to return home to. Nobody else lived at the house besides him. His father had been killed in the Battle of Hogwarts and his mother had left the family after the Dark Lord's return. She had been afraid for her life after she had found out her husband was a Death Eater. He had kept that a secret from her and Shadow, as he tried to stay out of Azkaban.
The selfish woman had left Shadow at home with his father. Last time he heard from his mother, she was living in America with a new husband and Shadow had found out he had a baby step-sister. Divorce was a rare concept in the wizarding world. Wizards were usually bonded for life. Shadow's parents were the exception.
A sharp sound was heard in the room, and Shadow turned around pointing his wand toward the sound. He saw an owl sitting there on the windowsill. Shadow used his wand to open the door and the owl flew in and dropped an edition of the Evening Prophet. Shadow looked down at the newspaper and started skimming through it. His eyes then widened when he saw a small article. The title read:
Quibbler Owner/Editor Xenophilius Lovegood
Attacked! Auror Killed, Lovegood In Coma
Shadow slammed down the newspaper and growled.. Lovegood had survived the fall and cave-in? Impossible! He looked back at the paper. A coma... meaning he might not wake up for a long time. Or at all. Lovegood had seen Shadow's face. If he did wake up, he could describe Shadow's face.
Shadow paced back and forth again. He looked down at the paper. Xenophilius Lovegood was in the Janus Thickey ward at St. Mungo's. The same ward Broderick Bode had been in when he was killed by a Death Eater, and it had been made to look like an accident. Could the same thing be done again?
The owl hooted, breaking Shadow out of his thoughts. He growled, and pointed his wand at the owl. Two words, and a green beam of energy later, the owl lay dead on the floor.
Shadow scoffed and sat down on the bed. He could kill an owl, but he couldn't kill his target...
No... it had to be done. Before Agent 314, he would have to find a way to get his mission done. No second chances... Kill or be killed....
And Shadow was not ready to die.
Got some good things coming up soon.... including Quidditch! Which might happen next chapter. Going to be tough to write. Quidditch from an audience's PoV is extremely difficult for me to write... especially Professional Quidditch, which is usually more extreme than Hogwarts Quidditch.
Also, I think Matthew's old enough to say at least one word. Almost ten months old sounds good enough for that milestone.
Last edited by Fury; February 5th, 2012 at 12:53 am.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Owl Post and Quidditch
Author's Note: Made a mistake in Chapter 7. Ron said he had to work the day after (which is where this chapter begins) but I got the day wrong... it was supposed to be two days later, not this day. Sorry about that. Also, if you read one of my stories, Butterfly Kisses, you may recognize quite a few character names from that story. I decided to borrow them for this one.
Also, in Butterfly Kisses, I had Gwenog Jones as a Chaser. She is actually one of the Beaters.
Sunday, August 1st, 1998
The following morning, Hermione was awakened by Ron's traditional wake-up kiss on the lips. Hermione grinned and kissed him back. She chuckled when Ron's lips moved to her earlobe and he nibbled on it lightly.
“Lovely way to wake up,” she said, “How long have you been up?”
“Ten minutes or so,” Ron murmured, “I checked on Matty. He's still asleep. Also, I just talked to Phillip. He said Markus' replacement will be here in an hour or so to meet us.”
Hermione looked over Ron's shoulder at the clock: it was half-past-seven.
“Mmm,” she said, “Is there a reason you woke me up?”
“Maybe,” Ron said.
Hermione chuckled and pushed him onto his back. She kissed him softly and rubbed her tongue against his lips. He opened them and allowed her entrance.
“Sissy,” Matthew's voice said through the speaker.
Hermione backed away and looked at the speaker.
“Did I just hear him call me sissy again?” she asked, looking back at Ron.
“Yep,” Ron muttered, “Guess he's awake. Damn it.”
Hermione smacked him playfully on the chest.
“You're lucky the speakers are on the one-way option at the moment,” she said, and got out of bed, “Please watch your language around him.”
Ron made a lips-zipped motion and Hermione rolled her eyes. She put on her morning robes and left the room then headed for the nursery. Inside, Matthew was sitting up and giggling at something. She put her hands on her hips and he looked up at her and giggled. She smiled and walked over to him.
“Did I hear you call for me?” she asked, as she gently picked him up.
He giggled and she rubbed her hand along his pyjamas. The bottoms were rather wet.
“You called me because you needed a change,” Hermione said, “Very good.”
She walked over to the changing table and laid him down on it. She proceeded to unbutton his pyjamas and change him into a new nappy. As she taped the nappy against him, she saw that his eyes were looking off to his left. She turned and saw Crookshanks sitting there in the doorway.
“That's Crookshanks... you know him,” Hermione said to Matthew, “Can you say kitty?”
Matthew babbled indistinctly. Crookshanks meowed and Matthew giggled.
“Well at least he likes you,” Hermione said, “Crookshanks doesn't like Ron. Though I think the feeling is mutual.”
“Did I hear my name?” Ron asked, as he walked into the nursery.
Crookshanks hissed and ran off out of the room. Matthew pouted and started to cry. Hermione cooed and tickled him on his bare belly-button. He giggled again.
“Cranky today?” Ron asked.
“No, he's very happy,” Hermione said, “But you scared his kitty away. He loves Crookshanks.”
“Oh, Matty,” Ron said, “Do you have to? I was hoping I could finally have someone on my side when it came to Crookshanks.”
Hermione giggled. She then dressed him into a simple outfit for spending the day inside and headed downstairs. A few minutes later, as Hermione was making breakfast for Matthew, he giggled in his high-chair and she noticed he was pointing his tiny hand at something. Hermione turned and saw an owl sitting in the window across the kitchen. Ron, who was sitting at the table with Matthew, stood up and crossed over to the window.
“The Daily Prophet?” Hermione asked.
“Nope,” Ron said, as he allowed the owl inside, “Hogwarts letters. Our NEWT exam invitations, I expect.”
Hermione waved her wand and the food mixer started mixing the baby food on its own. Ron handed her one of the letters and she opened the Hogwarts seal on the back then unfolded the letter and read:
Miss Hermione Granger,
On December 5th, the Hogwarts Express will be at Platform 9 ¾ to pick up the recent Seventh Year students who wish to take their NEWT Exams. Between December 6th and 10th, if you attend, you will be required to take one NEWT preparation class a day that will prepare you for the NEWTs which will take place between the December 13th and 17th. Below are the subjects you chose in your Sixth Year for your NEWTs:
Defense Against the Dark Arts
Extra Subject :
To those students who have a sixth subject on their exams, you will have the option of taking a sixth preparation class on Saturday December 11th.
If you wish to take your NEWT exams, we wait your owl no later than November 1st.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
By the time she finished the letter, the food mixer had stopped. Hermione dished out Matthew's food, and sat down with him and started to feed him with a spoon.
“November 1st,” Ron said, “We have four months to think about it.”
“Do you need to think about it?” Hermione asked “You seem pretty sure since you need NEWTs to become an Auror.”
“True,” Ron said, nodding, “I don't really have to think about it. What about you? It is only for two weeks in December. Less than two weeks. There's usually a Hogsmeade weekend the week before term ends. Mum and Matthew could visit.”
Hermione opened her mouth and Matthew mimicked her, and took another mouthful of food.
“I do like that idea,” Hermione said.
Ron looked at Matthew. “What do you think, Matty? Should sissy take her exams?”
“Sissy,” Matthew said, nodding.
Food spilled over his lips.
“Ron,” Hermione said, giggling, “No letting him talk with his mouth full.”
Ron chuckled as Hermione cleaned Matthew's chin with a napkin.
“Well, at least he can say one word pretty well,” Ron said, with a smirk, “And he did answer my question.”
“Yes,” Hermione said, “And how can I say no to that?”
While Hermione made breakfast for herself and Ron, there was a knock on the front door. Ron left the kitchen, and a minute later, returned with a girl in her mid-twenties dressed in Auror robes. Hermione raised her eyebrows. She didn't expect their new protection would be a girl.
She was rather tall and had long blonde hair that reached the middle of her back. Her eyes were a dark blue, she had a noticeable scar that went from her forehead to her right ear. She was, however, rather attractive, even with the scar.
“This is Allison Fawning,” Ron said, “Markus' replacement.”
“Hermione Granger,” Hermione said, smiling.
“Very nice to meet you,” Allison said, then looked at Matthew, “And this must be your brother?”
“Matthew,” Hermione said, “Or Matty, as we like to call him.”
“What a beautiful little boy,” Allison said.
“Auror Dayton said that you wanted my credentials?” Allison asked.
“Yes,” Ron said, “If you please.”
“Well, I've been a part of the Aurors for five years now,” Allison said, “I was a Ravenclaw in Hogwarts, and I was one of the top ten of my class in Brighton Auror Academy. My strengths are Stealth and Disguise, which is probably why I was picked for protection detail. I am a fairly good duelist if I may so, but I am very lax in interrogation. Not one of my strong points. I am always honest and very trustworthy. Minister Shacklebolt tells me that was something you didn't like about who I replaced.”
“He withhold information from me and I felt it could put me, Ron and my brother in danger,” Hermione said.
“I will never do that,” Allison said. “If something happens during my protection rounds, you'll be the first to know. Let's see... more about myself?”
“If it isn't too personal,” Hermione said, nodding.
“I am twenty-six,” Allison said, “I joined the Aurors when I was twenty, and I took off a year two years later when I became pregnant with my little girl.”
“So you're a parent and an Auror?” Ron asked.
“It is considered quite rare for someone of my position,” Allison said, “But I'm a family woman. My husband works at home most of the time. His work at the Daily Prophet allows him to be a stay-at-home father.”
“I'm only curious,” Ron said, “Because I want to be an Auror, even though I am helping Hermione raise her brother and we want children of our own in a few years.”
“As I said, it is considered quite rare to be a parent and an Auror,” Allison said, “Because my job is quite dangerous. But I also find it quite enjoyable. If I have days where I come home after a hard day at work, it is always relaxing to come home and spend time with my little girl. Anything else?”
“No,” Hermione said, “I think you'll be quite welcome here.”
“My pleasure,” Allison said, “Now if you excuse me, I must catch up on the routine with Phillip. Should be exciting. Never had an Animagus as a partner.”
“Also,” Ron said, “If you see this orange cat around here, can you scare him off –?”
“Ronald!” Hermione said, “Ignore him, Allison. That cat is Crookshanks and he is mine.”
Allison chuckled and gave Hermione a thumbs-up motion as she left the kitchen.
“You're no fun,” Ron said.
Hermione stuck out her tongue as she returned to making breakfast, and this caused Matthew to giggle.
(Harry's PoV – Meanwhile at the Burrow...)
In the Burrow's tiny kitchen, Harry, Ginny, and Luna were sitting at the table, while Teddy was in his high-chair. Mrs. Weasley was at the stove making breakfast. Luna was working on one of her drawings that she loved so much. She usually drew her friends or events in her life.
At first, Harry wasn't too sure about these drawings, especially when the first given to him was her version of a Post-Quidditch-Match kiss between Harry and Ginny on the Hogwarts Quidditch Pitch the previous year; the thought of it alone was quite embarrassing. But when one of her drawings, one of Ron and Hermione dancing at Bill and Fleur's wedding had helped bring back Ron's memories, he was more supportive of them.
“What are you drawing there, Luna?” Ginny asked.
“Something for Daddy,” Luna said.
“That will be nice,” Harry said, “Something for him when he wakes up.”
“Oh, I think he'll like it even when he's asleep,” Luna said.
“Are you sure?” Ginny asked, looking at Harry.
“The Healers told me yesterday,” Luna said, “that Daddy can hear me when I talk to him. So if his ears are open, it is possible he could also see the picture even if he can't look at me.”
“That is a very nice way of putting it, Luna,” Mrs. Weasley said, kindly.
Harry frowned. He knew Luna didn't exactly understand the concept of her father being in a coma. So she would talk about him as if he was just in a very long nap. Harry remembered one of the first things she had said when she came to stay at the Burrow yesterday....
“Daddy is hibernating,” she had said, “just like the Blibbering Humdingers do... that only lasts a few days, so he'll wake up very soon.”
Harry had almost felt like crying when Luna said that, and had severely hoped it was true for her sake.
A sharp tapping sound was heard nearby and Harry looked up. An owl was sitting in the open window.
“Oh, Hogwarts letters!” Mrs. Weasley said, taking the envelopes from the owl, then handed them out, “Ginny... rather bulky letter... big book list perhaps, oh dear. One for you too, Luna. And Harry... must be your NEWT invitation.”
Harry, Ginny, and Luna started to open their letters. Before Harry could even look at his, he heard a gasping sound come from Ginny. She was holding a brightly colored badge.
“B-b-but,” Ginny sputtered, “I missed half of my Sixth year! No bloody way – oops, sorry, Mum --”
Mrs. Weasley was, however, too busy snatching the badge away to notice Ginny's swearing.
“Head Girl!” Mrs. Weasley said, “Oh, congratulations, Ginny!”
“Thanks, Mum,” Ginny said, blushing and looking at Harry, who was beaming at her.
“I'll have to get you something extra special,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Luna and I can go next Saturday while you two are at the Quidditch Match.”
“Oh, Mum, it is so close to my birthday,” Ginny said, “It will be the same thing.”
“My daughter, always humble!” Mrs. Weasley said, grinning.
Harry looked down at his letter. Mrs. Weasley was right. It was his NEWT invitation letter.
“Hmm,” Harry said, “I don't have to accept or decline this until November 1st.”
“Why would you decline, Harry?” Ginny asked “You need your NEWTs.”
“I just want to know if Ron and Hermione are going too,” Harry said, “It won't be the same without them.”
“I'm sure they'll go too,” Ginny said, “Even if it takes them till November to decide.”
Harry nodded and looked back at his letter... NEWT exams. The exams that would help him get into the Aurors... It was almost like these exams were the official start to the rest of his life.
(August 7th, 1998)
“Oh, bloody hell, this is amazing!” Ginny squealed lightly.
At noon the following Saturday, Ginny and Harry were currently walking up the long staircase to the top of the large Holyhead Harpies Quidditch stadium. Leading them were Susan Bones and her uncle, the Auror. Auror Bones had invited Susan along, and the two of them had free passes to the game because he was protecting Harry and Ginny.
“This is a wonderful birthday present,” Ginny said, “Thank you, Harry!”
Harry smiled and caressed Ginny's hand. They were soon in the VIP section and Harry looked around. The chairs looked very comfortable, and when he sat down with Ginny in the front row, the seat automatically fit to his size, and was quite cool, even though the temperature was steaming hot.
“Oooh, complimentary Omnioculars,” Susan said, “Brilliant.”
Harry looked in front of his chair and saw the fancy binoculars, identical to those he had seen at the Quidditch World Cup.
“The Quidditch World Cup stadium was bigger,” Harry said, looking around.
“Of course it was, Harry!” Ginny said, “It sat a hundred thousand! This can barely seat – I dunno – twenty thousand!”
“Are there even twenty thousand Harpies fans?” Harry asked.
“Even if there was,” Susan said “Puddlemere United has a huge support-base. You can bet there will be a lot of their fans here too. Heck, I'm one of them.”
“What?” Ginny asked.
“Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you,” Susan said, grinning, “I'll be rooting for Puddlemere today. You know Oliver Wood is playing today?”
“Really?” Harry asked.
“Yep,” Susan said, “First game as the official Keeper.”
“If Oliver is still as good as he was in Hogwarts,” Harry said, “Or better, the Harpies will have trouble scoring against him.”
“No they won't,” Ginny said, “Chase Crowe is an amazing Chaser. Her real name is Chastity, but they call her Chase because of how good she is. Of course, with Gwenog as Beater and Roxy Waters as Keeper, it will be Puddlemere who has trouble scoring.”
“Surely, you jest!” Susan said, scoffing, “Jocelind Wadcock is better than Crowe. Then there is Quaffle Jenkins who had his name changed to Quaffle from some barmy name like Zeke or something, because he is just that good. Also you think Gwenog is good? Puddlemere has Connolly and Quigley.”
“The two Beaters from the Irish National team?” Harry asked.
Susan nodded and grinned.
“We'll see how they match up against Gwenog and Bertha Biggs,” Ginny said.
“Harpies and Puddlemere United Fans!” a voice said, and Harry realized the voice was coming right below the VIP area, “Welcome to the 1998-1999 Season Opening Game between Puddlemere United and your Holyhead Harpies! I am Billy Tremble and my always beautiful commentator-in-crime is former Harpies Chaser Xena Mason is here as well to give you full-match commentary!”
“Ooh, Xena Mason!” Ginny said, grinning.
“It is very nice to see everyone here!” Xena Mason said, “I really get so many letters from my dedicated fans who want me back on the team, but unfortunately I don't think even Gwenog Jones will let me since I only have two fingers on one of my hands.”
“You could play with that hand tied to your broomstick and still be better than Chase Crowe,” Billy said.
“You're very kind,” Xena said, “And --”
She was interrupted by cheering coming from the other side of the stadium as a blur of navy robes and broomsticks flew off around the Pitch.
“And here is the Puddlemere United Quidditch Team!” Billy said, “Wood, Quigley, Connolly, Williams, Jenkins, Woodley, and Captain Jocelind Wadcock!”
Susan clapped and cheered beside Harry and Ginny as the team circled the field. Harry put the Omnioculars to his eyes and he saw Oliver Wood separating from the pack and heading off to the rings on the other side of the stadium. He hadn't changed much in the three months since Harry had seen him at the Battle of Hogwarts.
“There they are!” Ginny said, cheering.
“And your Holyhead Harpies!” Xena said, “Morgan, Griffiths, Isaacs, Waters, Biggs, Crowe, and Captain Gwenog Jones!”
Harry had met Gwenog Jones once in his life. She had been at Slughorn's Christmas party in his sixth year at Hogwarts. On the Quidditch Pitch, she looked much different, and quite a threatening figure in her dark-green robes. She indeed looked ready to play.
"As the players from both teams get ready to begin the game," Billy said, "Acclaimed Quidditch Referee, who has been a part of 750 matches, both as a celebrated Chaser, and official, Alec Salvatore flies out onto the field."
"Alec Salvatore gives his traditional pre-match speech to the players," Xena said, "and he releases the Bludgers, followed by the Golden Snitch. I'm sure you don't need reminded that the game can't end until the Golden Snitch is caught. Whichever seeker catches it earns 150 points for their team. Salvatore takes the Quaffle from the chest, blows his whistle and throws the Quaffle in the air! Every one of the Chasers on each team goes in for the Quaffle, can't tell who is who! And someone breaks out of the crowd with the Quaffle... who is it?"
“It's Chase!” Ginny cheered, “Ha!”
“Chase Crowe separates from the pack,” Billy said, “and heads off toward the rings where Puddlemere United Keeper Oliver Wood is waiting.”
“Wood was only a Reserve Keeper until this year,” Xena said, “Fans will be interested to know that Oliver Wood played in the Hogwarts School Quidditch league as a Gryffindor and was the Captain, and he played with the famous “Boy Who Lived”, Harry Potter!”
Ginny and Susan grinned at Harry, as he rolled his eyes.
“Can't even go to a Quidditch match without a name-drop,” he muttered.
He put the Omnioculars to his eyes and looked on as Chase Crowe neared in on Oliver Wood. Oliver was staring intently toward Chase and the Quaffle. Chase threw the Quaffle toward the rings...
“ – but it is intercepted by Puddlemere Captain Wadcock!” Billy said, as the Harpies' fans groaned, “And Wadcock takes the Quaffle back toward the other end of the Pitch. Chase Crowe is having trouble getting situated as she starts off back in pursuit. Oh, watch out!”
“Nice hit on the Bludger by my old Captain, Gwenog Jones,” Xena said, “and – ohh, Puddlemere Beater Quigley smacks it back in her direction before the Bludger can get anywhere near his Captain!”
“Wadcock passes the Quaffle to Omar Woodley,” Billy said, “Omar to Quaffle – Quaffle Jenkins that is, lets not get the name and the ball confused, folks. Jenkins in pursuit of the rings! Harpies Chasers Crowe and Morgan in pursuit, but they may be too late aaaand –“
Ginny groaned and Susan cheered along with the rest of the Puddlemere team.
“-- And Puddlemere scores!,” Billy continued, “ Roxy Waters completely misses the Quaffle. Ten-zero to United!”
“Beat back those Bludgers, Boys!” the Puddlemere fans chanted.
“And let the Quaffle In!” Susan finished.
“As the Puddlemere fans chant the words to Puddlemere's famous theme song, created by Celestina Warbeck,” Billy said, “Chase Crowe takes the Quaffle. Lets see if she can do better this time.”
Harry watched on as Chase Crowe flew off back down the Pitch, with her fellow Chasers nearby.
“Wadcock in pursuit, possibly looking for another interception!” Xena said, “Big Bertha swings her club and aims a Bludger right for the lead Puddlemere Chaser and – ooh, nice block by Puddlemere's own Beater, Connolly! The Bludger boomerangs back to Big Bertha, and she has to duck out the way! I have never seen Big Bertha have to dodge her own Bludger!”
“Back to Chaser action!” Billy said, “Crowe fakes an attempted score toward the rings, and passes it to Griffiths! It seems she has learned from her mistake! Griffiths has the Quaffle, and she passes it to Morgan and – oh, another fake scoring attempt as she passes it back to Chase – who throws it and scores!!!”
Ginny, Harry and the rest of the Harpies fans cheered.
“This is not the Hogwarts league, Wood!” Xena said, “You'll have to do better than that to get past Chase Crowe! All tied up, ten-ten!”
Almost two hours went by in the match, and it was all tied up once again. The match had gone back and forth... sometimes the United team would get a twenty or thirty point lead, then the Harpies would come back and tie it up.
“-- and Chase scores past Wood again!” Billy said, “An amazing three scores in a row to come back and tie the match up! 190-190! And – where is Gwenog Jones sending that Bludger?”
The Omnioculars were pressed against Harry's glasses as he watched the Bludger swerve toward a man in green robes.
“Hmm – ohh, toward Puddlemere United Seeker Benjy Williams!” Xena said, “He was in pursuit of the Snitch, but the Bludger made him swerve off course --”
The commentator was right. Harry could see the Golden Snitch now flying across the Pitch in his direction.
“-- and Illiana 'Ice' Isaacs sees the Snitch as well!” Xena said, “And she is in pursuit! The match could end here! Connolly hits a Bludger toward Ice – and Bertha Biggs sends it right back at him – and ooh! The Bludger hits Connolly's broomstick and he goes flying off toward the ground! Can he save it in time --”
Harry was still watching Isaacs in her pursuit of the Snitch. He saw the determination in her eyes. Then, in his view of the Omnioculars, he saw Benjy Williams fly in behind her.
“Go! Go! Go!” Ginny said, “Come on, Ice!”
Isaacs aimed a kick at Benjy and sent him flying away.
“Ooh!” Billy said, “Ice with a brilliant move to get the Puddlemere Seeker off her tail – is that legal, Xena?”
“You know it is, Billy!” Xena said.
Harry watched on as Ice reached her hand forward. He could picture himself in her position as she reached her hand out, trying to keep her other hand steady on the broom and –
Harry heard a coughing sound behind him. He turned around and saw Auror Bones standing there.
“An urgent Owl post was sent to you from Hermione Granger, Mr. Potter,” Bones said.
Bones handed the letter to Harry and he looked at it. He didn't hear the muffled cheers and screams, and could barely hear Ginny telling him that Isaacs had caught the Snitch and the Harpies had won, as he read the letter.
Ron is in St. Mungo's. He was injured in an accident at Weasley Wizard Wheezes. I'm at St. Mungo's now with Matthew. See you here soon. Hope the game is going well.
Cliffhanger! How badly is Ron injured? And what exactly happened? You'll find out very soon!
Auror Allison Fawning, Chase Crowe, Bertha Biggs, Roxy Waters and Illiana 'Ice' Isaacs (though Ice was only mentioned in name) was all names from “Butterfly Kisses”.
Sorry the Quidditch match was so short. It was kind of difficult to write. I don't really fancy writing matches from a audience PoV. It is not very fun at all! But I hoped you liked it anyway. And the Chapter as well!
Last edited by Fury; February 5th, 2012 at 7:17 pm.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Author's Note: There is a Lord of the Rings reference in this chapter. Maybe you'll catch it.
(Shadow's PoV – Ten minutes later)
The early August air was nice and warm in Tutshill, England, as Shadow made his way down a long driveway toward a large white-bricked manor. Trees, separating each other by about three yards, were dotted along the driveway on either side, and he could hear birds chirping, and branches bouncing as squirrels bounded across them.
He made his way toward the wide covered porch in front of the house and stepped inside it then toward the front door. He knocked on it gently, and waited. A moment later, the door opened and Blaise Zabini stood there.
“What are you doing here, mate?” Blaise asked.
“Can't a old friend come in for a visit now and then?” Shadow asked.
“Oh, sure,” Blaise said, “Come on in.”
Shadow followed Blaise into the house.
“Anyone else here?” Shadow asked.
“Just the old House Elf, Croaker,” Blaise said, “Mum's in Diagon Alley doing some shopping.”
Shadow nodded, keeping the House Elf in his mind. It would have to be taken care of if his plan was going to work.
“Want some tea?” Blaise asked.
“Yeah, sure,” Shadow said.
Blaise led Shadow across the large sitting room and toward the kitchen.
“I was just listening to the Puddlemere and Holyhead game on the wireless,” Blaise said, “Harpies just won a few minutes ago, but it was narrow win. All tied up until Isaacs caught the Snitch.”
“Brilliant,” Shadow said.
“You get your NEWT invitation last week?” Blaise asked.
“Sure did,” Shadow said, “Are you going back to Hogwarts for it?”
“Thinking about it,” Blaise said, nodding, “You?”
“Thinking about it,” Shadow echoed.
Shadow brushed his hands along his robes.
“So what can I help you with?” Blaise asked.
“Was hoping you could come to St. Mungo's with me,” Shadow said.
“Oh?” Blaise asked, “Is somebody injured? If it is Draco, I am not going.”
“No, it isn't Malfoy,” Shadow said, slowly taking his wand from his robes, “It is you. Crucio!”
Screams tore through the house as Blaise fell to the ground, writhing and shrieking.
“Master Blaise!” the house-elf's voice came, as he ran into the kitchen.
“Avada Kedavra!” Shadow said, pointing his wand at the house-elf.
The house-elf fell to the ground, dead.
An owl, and now a house-elf... going up the ladder.
“Wh-what are you doing?” Blaise asked, weakly, “You're supposed to be my --”
“Crucio!” Shadow screamed.
Blaise shook and screamed, as his body writhed into unconsciousness.
“Obliviate!” Shadow said, wiping the memory of this event from Blaise's mind.
“I am your mate,” Shadow said, as he walked over to Blaise and picked him up. “In fact – as your mate – I'm taking you to St. Mungo's with me.”
(Hermione's PoV – Meanwhile in St. Mungo's)
Hermione sniffled as she looked down at Matthew, who was asleep in his baby-carrier, as it lay on the chair near her. She was pacing back and forth outside one of the hospital rooms on the Ground Floor (Artifact and Object Accidents) of St. Mungo's. George and Angelina were sitting across the narrow corridor, and Luna was sitting near Matthew. Aurors Fawning and Xavier were standing outside the door to the hospital room. The door opened and Mrs. Weasley and a witch walked out. Hermione immediately turned around and looked at them.
“Will he be all right?” she asked, “I want to see him!”
“You can see him, Hermione,” Mrs. Weasley said, “But allow Healer Bentley to explain things first.”
Hermione frowned and looked at the Healer.
“Ron suffered a concussion and a broken leg,” Healer Bentley said, “The concussion is easy to mend... and normally we can normally mend a broken leg overnight, but--”
“But?” Hermione echoed, “I don't like 'buts'!”
“Unfortunately, when I asked him to do a urine test,” Healer Bentley said, “I found a black substance in the results. Almost like a goo of some kind --”
“Oh no,” George said, “Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder. We found it all over the inventory room when we found Ron.”
“Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder is very problematic if it is in the bloodstream,” Healer Bentley said.
Hermione put a hand to her mouth and moaned. “What does that mean?”
“Magical potions will not be able to immediately heal Ron's leg,” Healer Bentley said, “It may take quite a while for the powder to escape Ron's bloodstream. It is not poisonous to his system, fortunately, only to the medical potions. So we may have to let his leg heal on its own. He will be in a cast, and he will be able to walk on crutches after a couple of days. I do not suggest Floo travel nor Apparation for his traveling.”
“Poor Ron,” George said, snickering, “He hates the Knight Bus.”
“You can go see him,” Healer Bentley said to Hermione, “But I do not suggest taking your son --”
“Brother,” Hermione muttered immediately.
“My apologies,” Healer Bentley said.
“Been known to happen,” Hermione said, shrugging.
“I would not suggest taking your brother in there,” Healer Bentley continued, “He is much too young, and may have nightmares about seeing Ron in his wrappings.”
“I will watch Matthew for you, Hermione,” Luna said, “I promise to keep an eye on him.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said, smiling at Luna.
“I'll come with you,” George said, “Ron hasn't told me what happened yet. Angelina?”
Angelina shook her head. “I need to get back to the shop to do some clean-up. Hopefully we can spare a few more open hours.”
Angelina kissed George on the cheek, and Hermione led George into the room. Ron was laying on the bed, with his right leg propped up in a cast, and his head wrapped in bandages. The right side of his face was bruised as well. Hermione walked over to him and kissed him softly.
“Ow!” Ron groaned, “Watch the lips.”
Hermione moved her lips over to his cheek and kissed it.
“I was so scared!” she moaned, backing away, “George sent me a letter and I – he didn't tell me what happened!”
“I said I don't know everything about it, didn't I?” George asked, “What happened, Ron?”
“I was on the big ladder, counting inventory,” Ron said, “and across the room, one of the Decoy Detonators exploded, and the jolt knocked me off the ladder. I banged my leg on one of the work-tables... guess that is how I broke it. And I blacked out when I hit my head on the ground. Blame my concussion and my bruises on that.”
“The work table,” George moaned, “Oh, I was working on making new batches of Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder. The powder was laying there. The Healer said it got into your bloodstream.”
“So that is why I I had to do a urine test,” Ron said, “Really hard to pee laying down. Is it poisonous?”
“No,” Hermione said, and Ron sighed in relief, “Unfortunately your leg has to heal on its own until the powder leaves your body, because one of the side-effects is that the power cancels out the potions that would mend your leg. So you're going to have to use crutches for a while when you can walk again --”
“-- and you have to use the Knight Bus instead of Floo and Apparation travel,” George said.
“Ugh,” Ron said, pouting, “That's horrible.”
The door opened and Hermione looked over her shoulder. Harry and Ginny walked into the room. Ginny ran over to the other side of the bed and hugged Ron.
“Ow, Gin!” Ron moaned, “Watch the head!”
“Sorry,” Ginny said, “What happened?”
Hermione explained the accident and the injuries.
“So you have to be on crutches for a while?” Harry asked, “Damn, mate, I'm sorry.”
“Ugh!” Ginny said, “This wouldn't have happened if I was working today!”
“Don't blame yourself, Gin,” Ron said, “How was the match?”
“Harpies won,” Ginny said, grinning. “In fact Isaacs had just caught the Snitch when we got the letter from Hermione.”
“So you didn't miss any of the match?” Ron asked, “Brilliant.”
“You picked a very good time to get injured, mate,” Harry said, grinning, “Has the Healer said how long you're here?”
“Another couple of days,” Ron said, “Just to make sure my concussion doesn't take a bad turn.
“Hermione, where's Matthew?” Harry asked.
“Er...Outside in the hallway with Luna,” Hermione said, “Didn't you see him?”
Harry shook his head. “Luna and Matthew wasn't there.”
“Er...” Hermione said, “One moment.”
Hermione walked over to the door and opened it. She looked toward the chairs and only found Mrs. Weasley and Auror Fawning there.
“Where is Luna and Matthew?” Hermione asked.
“Oh, I was going to tell you that!” Mrs. Weasley said, “I'm sorry – Luna took Matthew up to the Janus Thickey Ward to see her father.”
“She took my brother?” Hermione asked, “Without my permission! And you let her?”
“Xavier is with them,” Allison said, “I hope there isn't a problem.”
“Ugh, Luna,” Hermione said, sighing, “I – no, no problem. I trust Luna.”
“Something wrong?” Ron asked.
Hermione turned around. “Luna took Matthew to see her father,” she said, rolling her eyes, “You know how Luna is. She was probably really wanting to go see her father, and she promised me she'd look after Matthew.”
“She didn't want to break her promise,” Ginny said.
“Let's go find them then,” Harry said, standing up.
“I'll stay here with Ron and George,” Ginny said.
Harry nodded. Hermione walked over to Ron and kissed him softly.
“I'll be right back, I promise you,” Hermione said.
“Tell Luna off for taking Matty for me,” Ron said.
“I might just do that,” Hermione muttered.
Hermione followed Harry out of the room and down the hallway toward the lifts.
Shadow appeared, with the unconscious Blaise Zabini in his arms, in the Apparation-safe area of St. Mungo's, and carried him up to the nearest passing Healer.
“Sir!” the Healer said, “What happened?”
“I-I don't know,” Shadow said, feigning panic, “I was going over to his house and I found him on the floor alongside his dead house-elf! Is he okay?”
The Healer took his wand from his robes and hovered them over Blaise.
“This boy was recently put under the Cruciatus Curse!” the Healer said, “What is his name?”
“Blaise Zabini,” Shadow said, “I'm a – a friend of his.”
The Healer pointed his wand at the floor and a gurney appeared. Shadow laid Blaise onto it.
“We'll go to the fourth floor,” the Healer said, pushing the gurney toward the lifts, “Straight away.”
“The Janus Thickey ward?” Shadow asked as he followed the Healer.
“I – er – yes, good idea,” the Healer said, “You seem to know your way around here.”
“I've always wanted to work here,” Shadow lied, “So I like to know my way around here.”
“You do look like you would be a mighty fine, Healer,” the Healer said, as they stepped into the lifts, “Mr. –?
“Underhill,” Shadow lied.
“Does Mr. Zabini have family?” the Healer asked.
“Yes,” Shadow said, “But I don't know where they are. I feel I should be here for him... as his mate, I mean.”
“Of course,” the Healer said.
Three minutes later, they were on the fourth floor and Shadow followed the Healer and Blaise's gurney toward the Janus Thickey Ward. When they arrived at the ward, however, Shadow stopped in his tracks...
…. the same Auror that had accompanied Luna to Harry Potter's birthday party was standing outside the ward.
“Here we are,” the Healer said, “Come on in then, Mr. Underhill.”
Shadow avoided the Auror's gaze as he followed the Healer into the ward. He froze in his tracks as he looked inside....
…. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood were on the other side of the long room.
(Hermione's PoV – a couple minutes earlier)
The doors to the lifts opened and Hermione hurried out.
“Hermione!” Harry said, “Hermione, wait up!”
“Come on then,” Hermione said, without slowing down as she walked toward the Janus Thickey Ward.
“Hermione, please don't be mad at Luna,” Harry said, “You know she meant no harm.”
“I just want to make sure Matthew is okay,” Hermione said.
When she arrived at the ward, Xavier saw her and Harry.
“Oh, Miss Granger,” Xavier said, “Luna and your brother are inside the ward with Luna's father. I tried to convince her to let Molly watch your brother, but she insisted... she had said she promised to watch him.”
“It is okay,” Hermione said.
Hermione and Harry walked into the ward and found Luna across the room, sitting near Xenophilius' Lovegood's bed. Matthew was in his baby-carrier on another chair.
“Oh, Hermione, Harry,” Luna said, “Hi.”
“Hi, Luna,” Hermione said, “I've come to get Matthew.”
“I'm sorry I didn't tell you,” Luna said, “I just had an urge to see my father and --”
“And you promised to keep an eye on Matthew,” Hermione said, “Yes. It is okay. Next time, please tell me. I was worried.”
“He's been a very good baby,” Luna said. “He's been asleep all this time. I've just been talking to my father.”
Hermione frowned and looked at Xenophilius. He was laying in bed, and he looked asleep, though Hermione knew he was in a coma.
“Here we are,” a voice said, “Come on in then, Mr. Underhill.”
“Hermione,” Harry whispered, “Isn't that Blaise?”
Hermione turned around and saw Blaise Zabini being levitated onto a hospital bed by a Healer. Harry walked toward the Healer and Hermione followed him.
“Excuse me?” Harry said to the Healer, “We know him from school. What happened to him?”
“He was a victim of the Cruciatus Curse,” the Healer said, “A pretty bad one too....he's unconscious, and seems to have been this way for a while now. His friend brought him in – he's right over --”
The Healer pointed toward the door of the ward. Nobody was there.
“Huh,” the Healer said, “Well, he was right there. He said his name was Mr. Underhill. Do you know him?”
“No,” Harry said.
“I wonder where he could have gone,” the Healer said, “He wanted to stay with Blaise.”
Hermione walked over to the doors of the ward and looked through them and down the hall. She heard a sharp ding as the lifts closed, then looked at Xavier.
“Did you see a man walk in here with the Healer?” she asked.
“Yes,” Xavier said, “He seemed to be avoiding me. He was rather tall and had blonde hair.”
Hermione frowned and turned back into the ward. Harry had gone back over to Luna and Matthew. Hermione walked over to him and was about to tell him about the description of this “Mr. Underhill” when Matthew woke up and started crying.
“Ohh,” Hermione said, as she gently lifted him up, “It's okay.”
“Miss?” the Healer near Blaise said, “I'm sorry, but we can't have crying babies in here.”
“I'm sorry,” Hermione said, “I bet he's hungry. Er – I didn't bring any bottles with me. Oh, Merlin, I was leaving the house so hastily and I forgot!”
“The Maternity ward is on this floor,” the Healer said, “Tell them Healer Gently sent you, and they'll give you something to feed him with.”
“It isn't a potion or anything?” Hermione asked, “He's a Muggle and I haven't given him any magical potions.”
“Just milk, Ma'am,” the Healer said, smiling.
“Thank you,” Hermione said, then turned to Luna, “We'll be back at Ron's room if you need us. Come on, Harry. Shh, Matthew. Hang on just a few minutes.”
“I'll take this,” Harry said, grabbing the baby carrier.
Hermione cuddled Matthew against her and followed Harry out of the ward. As she passed Xavier, her brief conversation came to her mind.
“I think the bloke that brought Blaise into St. Mungo's was lying about his name,” Hermione said as they followed signs toward the Maternity Ward.
“Why?” Harry asked.
“Well,” Hermione said, “If he told the Healer he wanted to be there with Blaise – and then he suddenly left? What if he left because he saw you and I in there?”
“Wait, Hermione,” Harry said, “You're not saying...”
“I think it was the Agent that attacked Xenophilius,” Hermione said, “And the same one who stalked me and Ron. Harry, Luna's Auror said the guy was tall and blonde.”
“Many of our fellow students are blonde,” Harry said.
“Only one of them would be interested in taking the Elder Wand, Harry,” Hermione said, frowning.
Harry stared at her and Hermione nodded.
“I think I was wrong, Harry,” Hermione said, “I think the Agent was Draco Malfoy.”
Shadow growled as he walked off onto the bottom floor of St. Mungo's. His plan had been foiled again! There was no way he would have been able to kill Xenophilius – accident or not – while Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood were there. And now he had just cursed Blaise Zabini. Even though he had put a Memory Charm on him, there was a small chance that the Healers could get that memory back. And Blaise knew exactly who it was that attacked him.
Shadow walked over to the Apparation Point and closed his eyes. A moment later, he was back in the rundown motel room he had been staying in. He opened his eyes and almost yelled out. Agent 314 was sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. A piece of parchment was in his hand.
“Sir!” Shadow said, “I – er – what are you doing here?”
“Wondering where you have been, Agent Shadow,” Agent 314 said, “And why Xenophilius Lovegood is not dead!”
“I-I'm sorry!” Shadow said, “I messed up. The Auror – he blew up an Erumpent Horn inside Lovegood's house and it sent me and Lovegood falling to the bottom floor. I thought Lovegood had been killed by the fall, and then a part of the house collapsed too, so I had to Apparate. I thought the collapse would kill him, but --”
“But he is in a coma,” Agent 314 said, “Yes.
“I'm sorry, sir,” Shadow said, “Please let me do something else. Don't kill me.”
“I will not kill you,” Agent 314 said, “I actually need you again. But this time, you have many months to plan your attack.”
“Sir?” Shadow asked.
Agent 314 lifted the parchment. Shadow recognized it as his NEWT invitation.
“You will accept your NEWT invitation letter,” Agent 314 said, “And you will go to Hogwarts. There is a good chance that Potter, Granger and Mr. Weasley will be there. Miss Weasley and Miss Lovegood will also be there.”
“The High Five Targets,” Agent Shadow said nodding.
“Six now,” Agent 314 said, “Neville Longbottom will also be there. He is close to these five targets, and he helped them in the battle at the Department of Mysteries. There you will plan your attack. There the Agents will make their final stand against the Elder Wand's last owner.”
“Will you be there, sir?” Shadow asked.
“Perhaps,” Agent 314 allowed, “Hogwarts is vulnerable. True – December is a long ways away. The school could rebuild by then. But they would never expect an attack of this size again. Because you have the highest chance of success, I am promoting you to Squad Leader. Assemble agents – perhaps those who will also take their NEWT exams and could help you.”
“Wh-what do we do about Xenophilius Lovegood?” Shadow asked.
“We will wait,” Agent 314 said. “The Ministry would expect an attack on Mr. Lovegood. We must go back into hiding until December.”
“Yes, sir,” Shadow said, “Very good idea. Lay low. Yes.”
“Do not fail me again, Shadow,” Agent 314 said, “As the American Muggles say. Three strikes, your out.”
“No, sir,” Shadow said, “Not again. Never again.”
“Just to make sure you do not,” Agent 314 said.
He quickly brandished his wand from his robes and, without a word, Shadow felt pain sweep through his body as he collapsed to the floor. He moaned and screamed....
…. the pain only ended when he blacked out into unconsciousness.
Agent 314 has made his first appearance into the story! And I can confirm it is a bloke. So the Agents are going dormant until December. Hmm...
Mostly I did this for one reason. I want to put the Agent story-line on the back-burner until the story gets into December, and focus more on Hermione/Ron/Matthew and Harry/Ginny. I might show Ginny at Hogwarts as well.
I also might do another time-skip, but not just yet. Though I am going to do a rather short one at the start of next chapter just to move the story along. Then perhaps a few more over the next few chapters. But there are a few things I want to do before we get to December.
Hope you liked this chapter!
Last edited by Fury; February 5th, 2012 at 9:40 pm.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Daydreams and Nightmares
Author's Note: This chapter begins a few minutes after the previous chapter ended and then it will do a brief time-skip. Also, this chapter gets rather fluffy near the end. I wanted to have a nice little moment for the couples after such serious story-lines. And then it gets serious again. The end of this chapter has very strong connections to “What If?”
“Are you sure?” Harry asked, “I mean, are you really sure it was Draco?”
Hermione frowned as she looked down at Matthew. He was currently feeding from a bottle Hermione had borrowed from the maternity ward at St. Mungo's. They were currently in the lift as it made its way to the ground floor.
“I wish you would stop asking me that,” she said, “No, I am not sure it was Draco. But who else could it be? Didn't you tell me he asked for his wand back when he confronted you in the Room of Requirement?”
“It was his wand, Hermione,” Harry said, “Of course he would want it back.”
“Yes, but if he didn't completely understand the concept of the Elder Wand,” Hermione said, “He could possibly think the Elder Wand's powers transferred to his own wand when he disarmed the wand from Dumbledore.”
“It is Agent 314 who is after the Elder Wand, Hermione,” Harry said.
“Well,” Hermione said, “If Agent 314 is on the hunt, he may be looking for those who disarmed the wizards who had the Elder Wand. Maybe he found out Draco disarmed Dumbledore --”
“And he made Draco an agent?” Harry asked, skepticism running through his voice.
“He could be using Draco,” Hermione said.
“I don't think it is Draco,” Harry said, “You know – this is a switch. Wasn't it you who was telling me not to obsess with Draco a couple years back?”
“Yeah, but it turned out you were right,” Hermione allowed.
“I don't think it is him this time,” Harry said.
The lifts opened and Hermione followed Harry back toward Ron's hospital room. Hermione decided Ron didn't look too bad so Matthew could see him. When they arrived inside the room, Mrs. Weasley was now there, and George wasn't.
“There's my little man,” Ron said, grinning, as he gingerly sat up against his pillow.
Matthew pushed back his bottle and giggled as he saw Ron.
“Can I hold him?” Ron asked.
“Are you sure?” Hermione asked.
“It is my leg that is injured, love,” Ron said, “Not my arms.”
Hermione smiled and gently gave Matthew to Ron, as well as Matthew's bottle. She then kissed Ron softly and backed up into an empty chair. Ron opened his mouth and Matthew mimicked him and Ron returned the bottle to his mouth. Matthew gave muffled happy murmurs.
“So Ginny had this strange theory that the Decoy Detonator was tampered with,” Ron said.
“What?” Hermione asked, looking at Ginny, “By an Agent?”
“Decoy Detonators don't just randomly explode, Hermione,” Ginny said.
“It was pretty hot in that room,” Ron said, shrugging, “Could have happened. Besides, the shop is quite protected --”
“By George's wards,” Ginny said, “Yes, you said that.”
“Maybe he's right, Ginny,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Nobody can get past the family's wards without getting injured.”
“Right,' Ron said, “and the inventory room is one of the most guarded parts of the entire shop, since that is where everything is. You know that, Ginny.”
“Ron, have you seen Draco Malfoy around Diagon Alley lately?” Hermione asked.
Ron raised his eyebrows as he looked at Hermione. “He's never come into the shop. Why would he?”
“Hermione thinks Draco is your stalker Agent,” Harry said, with a smirk.
Hermione explained to Ron about Blaise Zabini, and the mysterious blonde wizard that Auror Xavier had seen.
“We know a lot of blonde wizards, Hermione,” Ron said.
“That is what I said,” Harry said, “And if it was Malfoy, why would he attack Zabini? They're friends.”
“Harry, you were there,” Hermione said, “The Healer said Blaise's friend had brought him into St. Mungo's.”
“But Blaise could identify Draco,” Harry said.
“Unless he did a Memory Charm on Blaise,” Hermione said.
“Memories can be mended,” Ron said, “I speak from experience.”
Mrs. Weasley frowned. She had only learned about Ron's memory loss when he accidentally said it in her presence a few weeks back. Hermione noticed she still seemed to be rather uneasy about the whole thing.
“Okay,” Hermione said, “So it wasn't someone Blaise knew who attacked him. Why would be bring Blaise in to St. Mungo's? Why didn't he just kill Blaise?”
“Maybe he needed to get into St. Mungo's,” Harry said. “And where do all patients who are hit by Cruciatus Curses go to?”
“The fourth floor,” Hermione said, “Where the Janus Thickey Ward is.”
“Where Xenophilius Lovegood is,” Ron said, “Blimey. Xenophilius could have been his target. The Agent couldn't kill him at his house, so he tried to do it here at St. Mungo's.”
“But he couldn't,” Harry said, “Because we were there with Luna. He saw us and left!”
“But we're targets of the Agents too,” Hermione said, “He could have easily killed us.”
“Unless his boss wants us alive,” Harry said, then stood up, “I need to go warn Xavier about a possible threat on Xenophilius' life.”
“I'll go with you,” Ginny said, “We can go to the fifth floor as well. I fancy some tea to calm my nerves.”
“I think I'll go too,” Mrs. Weasley said, standing up, “Leave Ron with Matthew and Hermione.”
“Thanks, Mum,” Ron said.
“Get better, Ronnie,” Mrs. Weasley said, hugging Ron gently, though awkwardly since he was holding Matthew.
Harry, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley left the room, and Hermione looked back at Ron.
“So you're going to be alone in our bed for two nights while I'm here,” Ron said, “Think you can handle it?”
“No – I mean – oh, how will I survive?” Hermione said, sighing dramatically.
“Very funny,” Ron said.
“Yes, I can handle it,” Hermione said, “Besides, it will be longer than two days.”
“I'll be home in two days,” Ron said.
“I'm not letting you up those stairs on your bum leg,” Hermione said, “I'll extend the couch in the living room to a bed, and find a way to solve the bathroom problem before you get home.”
“But you can sleep in the living room too,” Ron said.
“I dunno... I love our bed,” Hermione said.
“But you love being with me more,” Ron said.
“That is arguable,” Hermione said, sticking out her tongue.
“No flirting when I'm feeding Matty,” Ron said, “So... will you wait on me hand-and-foot?”
“We'll see about that,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes, “I already have one baby to wait on hand-and-foot.”
“I'm not a baby,” Ron said, pouting.
“I dunno,” Hermione said, grinning, “You and Matthew have things in common right now. The two of you can barely stand without help from something.”
“Ugh,” Ron said, “I am so dreading crutches.”
“You'll just have to get used to them,” Hermione said, “Especially if you're going back to work before too long.”
“You could work at the shop instead,” Ron said, “And I could watch Matthew.”
“You can't use crutches and carry Matthew at the same time,” Hermione said, “At work, you can just sit behind the till and help customers.”
“Right,” Ron said, “That does sound easier.”
“It is only until the powder goes through your bloodstream,” Hermione said, “Then the Healers can give you the potions.”
“Hopefully that won't take too long,” Ron said, “I mean – your birthday is in five weeks, and Matthew's is less than two months away. I don't want to be on crutches while I'm celebrating with you.”
“Aww, how sweet of you,” Hermione said, smiling, “I'm sure you'll be walking on both legs by then.”
August 11th, 1998
Ron hissed, his bum leg brushing against the inside of the counter, as he moved in his chair behind the till at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. It had been four days since the accident, and two days since he had left St. Mungo's. For most of those four days, while he was at St. Mungo's or back at home, he had been laying down somewhere. Either on the hospital bed or the on couch in the living room.
As she had promised, Hermione had extended the living room couch into a normal sized bed for him. She hadn't spent the night on the bed with him yet, much to Ron's displeasure. But she had spent the two hours that separated Matthew's bedtime and her normal bedtime with some intimate time between the two of them. This also proved rather difficult since Ron couldn't do very much moving, thanks to his leg. It was far more annoying then when his arm was healing from the Splinching incident in December.
Ron didn't mind staying in the living room, especially since he got to spend loads of time with Matthew during the day. The two days he had been home, he and Matthew had spent many hours together. Ron had even tried to encourage Matthew to say more words, but, besides saying “sissy”, Matthew could only make vowel sounds. He had also helped Matthew with his stand-up and sit down practices, and all though he needed help, Matthew was able to stand up on his feet for minutes at a time.
Hermione had also found a way to remedy the bathroom problem. Ron's father had come over on Sunday and by the time he left, a temporary new bathroom was installed in the bottom of Hermione's house, near the living room. Thanks to the fact that he had to use crutches to get to the house inside of Apparation or Floo Powder, Ron had become an expert at walking with them, and had no problem going between the restroom and living room.
The night before Ginny's birthday, George had come over to Hermione's house to beg Ron to return to work the following day. Ginny would be off that day, and George and Angelina needed a third person in the shop. After some thought, and bickering from Hermione about how Ron needed to do things on his leg, Ron accepted the offer.
Ron thought work was going to be hard with a bum leg, but he found it fairly easy. The two hours he had been there so far that day, he had spent behind the till and he didn't have to get up at all yet. Getting to work was a bigger problem. He had to take the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron, and he had slammed his leg into the wall of the bus many times as it turned street corners quickly. The walk through the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley took fifteen minutes longer than it did when both of his legs worked properly.
“Hey, Ron!” George said, as he walked across the shop, “Can you go up on the ladder for me and get something?”
“Very funny, George,” Ron muttered, sarcastically, “That hasn't made me laugh the past five times you said it. It isn't going to work this time.”
“I'm sorry,” George said, “I couldn't hear you. What was that?”
“George, be nice to your brother,” Angelina said, “We're lucky to have him working here today.”
“Yeah, I could have stayed away for a full week like the Healer suggested,” Ron said.
“I was only joking with him Angelina,” George said, “It isn't my fault he's grumpy cause of no love-life.”
“I have a fine love-life, thank you very much,” Ron said, “Even with a bum leg.”
“Hermione does all the work, huh?” George asked, “Very submissive of you.”
“Don't let Harry hear that,” Ron said, remembering all the times Harry teased him about Hermione having a lot of control over their snogging sessions.
“Too late, mate,” Harry's voice said.
Ron turned toward the doorway of the shop. Harry was grinning as he walked over to the counter.
“Harry!” George said, “Welcome. My brother and I were just discussing his intimate life. Speaking of snogging girlfriends... what are you doing here, Harry? I thought you were spending the day with Ginny.”
“Most of the day,” Harry said, “Just getting some things for a private date with her.”
“Where are you taking her?” Angelina asked.
“We're going to stay at the Burrow,” Harry said, “because the Aurors don't want us going anywhere. But that is okay. Ginny's okay with it, since I took her to the Quidditch Match for half of her birthday present.”
“Half?” Ron asked, “What else are you getting her?”
“That is between me and her,” Harry said.
“Translation,” George said, “He doesn't know yet.”
“I am not selling you a Love Potion, mate,” Ron said, with a smirk, “I refuse.”
“I have a better idea,” Angelina said, “Our newest item! I just put it in stock a few minutes ago.”
“Oh, no, Angelina,” George said, “You're not suggesting – oh dear, I knew I was going to regret making those.”
“What are you talking about?” Ron asked.
“We updated the Patented Daydream Charms,” Angelina said. “So they can be used by couples. My favorite is the one I thought of when George took me to the Muggle cinema last year. It is cruise ship fantasy.”
“Er – Angelina,” George said, “If I remember right, the cruise ship sank.”
“The two lovers still had a nice time,” Angelina said.
“Yeah, until one of them died,” George muttered, “Poor bloke died on the night he got lucky.”
“How vile of you,” Angelina said.
“What other fantasies?” Harry asked.
“Follow me,” Angelina said.
“Harry!” Ron growled, “You better not –!”
“Oh, let him have his fun,” George said, grinning, “It is just a daydream for him and Ginny – a very realistic daydream.”
“This is for our sister, George,” Ron said, “Our sister!”
“Hmm,” Harry said, as he looked at a shelf, “Masseuse parlors, a dark forest --”
“ – er, I don't recommend the forest,” George muttered, “That is mainly for really gloomy folk. It is based on the Forbidden Forest.”
“The Hogwarts Express?” Harry asked.
“Mostly for school sweethearts,” George said.
“I think I'll take it,” Harry said.
“Harry!” Ron growled, “I swear – I'm not selling that to you. I don't care if my brother is the boss. I am the one behind the till.”
“You forget, Ron,” George said, “Harry's our investor. A discount on all items. And since this is for Ginny, and our very first sale of the new item, I'll let you have it for free, Harry.”
“Oh, George, I couldn't,” Harry said.
“Just tell Ginny it is a present from me too,” George said, “Since I didn't get her one.”
“You are lucky I have a bum leg, Potter!” Harry said.
Harry grinned and waved to Ron as he left the shop. Ron glared at George and Angelina.
“He's giving it to our sister, George!” he growled, “Your sister-in-law, Angelina!”
“She's seventeen,” George said, “We can allow her a bit of innocent fun.”
“Yeah, Ron,” Angelina said, “ Besides, Harry's a gentleman around Ginny.”
“It is not Harry I'm worried about,” Ron muttered.
(Harry's PoV – that evening)
“I cannot believe you blindfolded me for the second year in a row, Harry!” Ginny growled.
“Relax, love,” Harry said, “We're almost there.”
“You're taking me to the lake again, aren't you?” Ginny asked.
“Not this time,” Harry said, “We need a bit more privacy.”
“Privacy?” Ginny asked, “Exactly what do you have in mind?”
Harry grinned privately as he took off Ginny's blindfold. They were standing in the Weasley's barn. Ginny blinked as she adjusted her eyesight and looked around.
“The barn?” Ginny asked, “There's nothing here, Harry.”
“Nothing on the bottom floor,” Harry said, motioning over to the ladder, “Birthday girls first.”
“I knew I shouldn't have worn a skirt,” Ginny muttered.
“I won't peek,” Harry said, grinning.
Ginny rolled her eyes and ascended the ladder. He heard Ginny gasp and he climbed up after her.
“Oh, Harry,” Ginny said, as Harry reached the second floor, “This is wonderful.”
A picnic blanket had been laid out on the hay-covered barn floor. Four candles, protected so they wouldn't set fire to the barn, were lit at the corners of the blanket.
“Is this... Mum's cooking?” Ginny asked, as she sat down.
“She made me promise she could cook for you even if we weren't having dinner with her tonight,” Harry said, as he sat down next to her.
“Any other plans other than this romantic picnic in my barn?” Ginny asked, as she started on her pork chop.
“Yes,” Harry said, as he did the same, “But it can wait until after we eat.”
“Hmm,” Ginny said, raising her eyebrows, “A picnic dinner... in the barn... away from my mother. Very private too. Are you trying to tell me something?”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“You know what I mean,” Ginny said, “I remember our old conversations. 'Not until I'm seventeen' and 'Not until the war is over'. As of today, both have happened.”
“The Second War isn't over,” Harry said, “Not as long as the Agents are around.”
“You weren't thinking about the war when we had that conversation, Harry,” Ginny said.
“I know,” Harry said, “And at the time I wasn't sure if we'd ever reach this day.”
“That's not funny, Harry,” Ginny said. “I almost lost you in May. I don't ever want to have to go through that again.”
“You won't,” Harry said, “Not until we're old and wrinkly at least.”
“You've given me so many hints lately,” Ginny said, “Usually it is girls who have to give blokes hints.”
“Are you saying I'm a girl?” Harry asked.
“You behave like one sometimes,” Ginny said, grinning.
“Very funny,” Harry said.
Ginny stuck out her tongue. Harry stared at her silently as he continued in on his meal.
“I want to give you your other birthday present,” he said, “But you have to put the blindfold on again.”
“Do I have to?” Ginny asked.
“It is a surprise,” Harry said.
Ginny frowned and took the blindfold from her pocket. She put it over her eyes and tied it in the back. Harry took out the small heart-shaped perfume bottle from his pocket. He read the back of it.
Daydream Charms for Couples. Very realistic. Press the lid down and inhale the scent. Lasts for one hour. It is advised you are alone or in private areas.
“When I say so,” Harry said, “Inhale.”
“You got me perfume?” Ginny asked.
“Er... sort of,” Harry muttered, then pressed down on the lid and sprayed it around them. “Inhale now.”
Harry closed his eyes and inhaled and so did Ginny. He opened his eyes and he was no longer in the barn. He was sitting on the floor of what resembled a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. Outside the window, they seemed to be floating over clouds.
“Take off your blindfold,” Harry said.
Ginny did so and looked around. Her eyes widened and she looked at Harry. He told her about the Daydream Charm and what it did.
“So we're still in my barn, right?” Ginny asked.
“Technically, yes,” Harry said, “Only we think we're on the Hogwarts Express. It lasts for an hour.”
“Er... are you really here?” Ginny asked, “I mean...”
Harry reached out to Ginny and touched Ginny's hand. She gasped and giggled.
“Wow,” she said, “This is so bizarre.”
She took his hand and pulled him onto one of the long seats. He then leaned toward her and kissed her softly and she returned the kiss.
“I felt that too,” Ginny said.
“George did say it was very realistic,” Harry said, “I imagine if someone was to walk in on us, we'd be in snogging in the barn.”
“Good thing you requested our privacy,” Ginny said, grinning.
She laid back against the seat and pulled Harry toward her and kissed him again. He rubbed his tongue along her lips, and she opened them, letting his tongue inside. He rubbed his tongue between hers and the roof of her mouth and she moaned softly against his lips. He backed away a bit and moved his lips toward her chin, kissing it softly. She rubbed her hands along his hair and he noticed her eyes travel toward the floor.
“Harry,” she whispered.
“Hmm?” Harry asked, moving his lips to her neck.
“My purse came with us,” Ginny said.
“You brought your purse to our picnic?” Harry asked, looking toward the floor where the purse was, “why?”
Ginny smiled and reached for the purse. She rummaged through it, then pulled out a small vial.
“Er... what is that?” Harry asked.
“I'll give you a hint,” Ginny said, “It is the only reason Hermione and Ron have their 'special moments' at the moment.”
Harry raised his eyebrows, and realized what she meant.
“She actually gave you that potion?” he asked.
“One night's worth,” Ginny said.
“Hermione gave you that potion?” Harry repeated, in disbelief.
“She said she wanted me to have it 'just in case',” Ginny said.
Harry looked from the vial to Ginny. He chewed on his bottom lip and looked at her lips. He then reached a hand over to the vial and popped off the cork.
“I can't believe I'm going to do this in your barn,” Harry said, with a sigh.
“Technically we're on the Hogwarts Express,” Ginny said, then gulped down the potion.
She groaned and made a disgusted face.
“Man, that's gross,” Ginny said, “Though it has a strange minty taste to it. Probably to help with breath.”
Harry chuckled and looked into her eyes. “Happy birthday, Ginny. I love you.”
“I love you too, Harry,” Ginny said.
She smiled and pulled him toward her and kissed him deeply on the lips.
(Hermione's PoV – five hours later)
Hermione opened her eyes and she was in a very tight space, almost as if she was under a bed or something. She could hear Matthew crying nearby, and heard a movement of footsteps in the distance. She then realized she was in Matthew's nursery.
“I'm coming, Matthew,” a very familiar voice said, one that Hermione hadn't heard in many months.
She saw the bottom of a door open and slipper-covered feet as they walked into the room. Very familiar slippers...
“I'm here, my baby,” the voice said, “Mummy's here.”
“Mum?” Hermione asked, but all that came out was a soft meowing sound.
“I bet you're hungry,” Helen Granger's voice said.
A moment later, Hermione's mother walked across the room with a very young Matthew in her arms. She sat down in a rocking chair and unbuttoned the shirt of her blouse, then put a small blanket over Matthew so that it covered his whole body.
“There you go, sweetheart,” Helen said, “How's that?”
“Mum?” Hermione asked.
Another meowing sound, followed by the sound of creaking, as the rocking chair moved back and forth. Hermione then heard footsteps coming from somewhere outside the room. She then heard a very high, familiar cackling sound.
“Run, Richard!” Elphias Doge's voice said, “Get to Helen and Matthew!”
“Richard?” Helen asked.
More movement. The door opened again and Richard hurried in.
“Someone is coming, Helen,” Richard said.
“Daddy?” Hermione asked.
“Richard,what is happening!” Helen asked, uncovering the blanket from Matthew.
Matthew started crying again.
“We need to hide Matthew,” Richard said, “Remember what Elphias said. Hide Matthew. I am going back downstairs.”
“Richard!” Helen said, her voice split by sobs.
“I love you, Helen,” Richard said, “Hide him.”
Richard ran out of the room. Hermione heard her mother crying as she walked over to the closet. She opened the door and kneeled down.
“My baby,” Helen said, “My Matty. You'll be all right. If I'm not here, Hermione will take care of you. Okay? I promise.”
Helen backed up and Hermione saw Matthew laying in the closet on the top of a large pile of clothes, and the door closed.
“Protego Enfante Totalum!” Elphias Doge's voice rang out from downstairs, “Richard! I told you to --”
“Avada Kedavra!” a voice yelled.
“No!” Richard yelled, “Elphias! Helen –!”
“Avada Kedavra!” the same voice yelled.
Hermione's eyes widened as she heard a second thud. She knew her father had just been killed. She then heard footsteps outside the door, and saw Helen looking at the door.
“Alohomora!” the voice said, “Hmm... Reducto! Aargh!”
“Go away!” Helen growled, “Leave me alone!”
The voice cackled and Hermione heard more footsteps.
“Mum!” Hermione said, “Run!”
More meowing and now hissing. She then saw her mother pacing back and forth and sobbing.
“Where did she go?” Helen asked, “You'll be okay, Matty. I promise. She won't get you. Aagh!”
The sound of broken glass shattering split the air and Hermione saw black-booted feet land in the room from the window. Hermione looked up and saw Bellatrix Lestrange standing there.
“No!” Helen cried out, “Why?”
Helen dropped to her knees.
“Please don't!” Helen cried, “Please!”
“You little slag,” Bellatrix said cackling.
Helen crawled on her hands and knees across the floor.
“I bet your daughter is the same way,” Bellatrix said, “I'm going to go after her next. And before I end her life, I'll tell her all about how I ended yours.”
“No!” Helen cried, “No, please... please...”
“Avada Kedavra!” Bellatrix yelled.
A flash of green filled the air....
… and Hermione bolted up into a sitting position and gasped. She looked around and realized she was sitting on the modified bed in the living room. She looked next to her at Ron, who was awake looking up at her.
“Are you okay?” Ron murmured, “Is it Matty?”
“I-I need to check on Matty,” Hermione gasped.
“He's not crying,” Ron said, turning his heard toward the walkie-talkie, “Go back to sleep.”
“I'll be back,” Hermione said, “I promise.”
Hermione kissed Ron softly, and reached for her robes that eerily resembled the blouse Helen Granger had been in on the night of her death. She put them on and stood up then walked toward the stairs. She frowned and felt tears in her eyes. She had learned to get past her parents' death months ago, and had been able to climb these stairs without incident. But because of her dream, it had all come back to her.
She closed her eyes so she wouldn't look at the step, and walked up the stairs, and over to Matthew's nursery. She then walked inside and tried to keep her eyes away from the section of floor her mother had died at. She walked over to Matthew's crib and smiled when she saw that he was sleeping peacefully, curled up against a teddy bear she had given him a few days ago. She leaned toward him and kissed him softly on the forehead.
She felt more tears in her eyes and dropped to her knees and just sat there as she watched him sleep. She then realized where she was in her dream. She had been under Matthew's crib, and – was she Crookshanks in her dream? Had he been under Matthew's crib during the attack? She frowned as she looked behind her. She could picture Bellatrix there, standing on broken window glass, over her mother.
She then looked back at Matthew and clutched her knees against her.
“Hermione?” Ron's voice said, from the speaker.
“I'll be down shortly,” Hermione said, trying to keep her voice calm, “Just watching Matthew.”
“I'm going back to sleep,” Ron said, “Good night.”
“Night, Ron,” Hermione said.
Hermione laid her head down on top of her knees and stared at Matthew as he slept...
… truthfully she was afraid to go back to sleep that evening, and knew that even if she joined Ron on the bed, she would be up all night.
She then realized why she had that nightmare. She hadn't been to her parents' graves since Christmas Eve. Was this punishment for not visiting them? She had promised... but she was planning on going on the anniversary of their death. Even if she wanted to go as soon as possible, she didn't want to go without Ron, and he wouldn't be able to walk across the un-solid grassy ground of the cemetery with his crutches. And she wanted to bring Matthew with her as well... but she didn't know if he was ready...
… no that wasn't the truth. It would be a great moment for him, but he wouldn't understand it just yet. Honestly.... she didn't know if she was ready to go back there just yet.
The nightmare came to me as I was writing this chapter. I wanted something after Harry and Ginny's part, but I wasn't sure what. And then I figured it out. It isn't too important to the story-line, and honestly I could have had the nightmare closer to a Halloween chapter, or on Halloween. But I wanted it here instead.
So Ginny had a rather fun birthday! I loved the idea of the day-dream charms for couples. Definitely something George and Angelina would create. Also... Titanic reference, for the win?
I think I'm going to do another time-skip soon, and possibly have Ginny at Hogwarts. I'd like to do a few Hogwarts Chapters before I get to the NEWT chapters. I do have some rather good ideas for some chapters like that.
Hope you liked this chapter!
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
The New Head Boy
Author's Note: I'll be doing a generous time-skip in this chapter to move the story along. Again, I will show dates in-story. Also, I will be focusing quite a bit on Ginny's PoV in the next few chapters.
After Ginny's birthday, the month of August went by rather quickly, much to Ginny's disappointment. She continued to work until the last couple of days of August, so she could get prepared to go back for her final year at Hogwarts. Because of this she had focused her weekends on time with Harry and, when he came over to the Burrow, Teddy as well. After their memorable night in the barn on Ginny's birthday they had slowed down their relationship again. Hermione's birthday gift had given them the night they both desired and after that, things were calm and the discussion of it hardly lingered.
Ron had a follow-up check-up with the Healer, two weeks after his accident, and he discovered there was still enough trace in his bloodstream that the potions wouldn't work very well. The Healer had said it could take another month or so, and Ron was still hoping he wouldn't be on crutches by Hermione's birthday. However, the pain in his leg had subsided, and it made walking with crutches easier. By the end of August, he was also able to gingerly walk around for periods of time without his crutches, but this took a lot of energy to do so.
Ron and Hermione were working with Matthew, trying to help him improve on talking and even walking a few steps with help. Because of Ron's leg, he couldn't be of much help with it, but he did help Matthew by persuading him. Hermione would stand Matthew up on the floor, and slowly walk backwards with him, and he would take a few steps.
Matthew had made improved vowel sounds that sounded more like he was saying 'you' and 'I”, and he would also point to things he would want, which Hermione was quite happy with. One day, a week before the end of August, while Hermione was trying to get Matthew to say Ron's name, he ended up saying “Won”. Even though Hermione was happy about this, Ron could tell she was a bit disappointed as well, probably because it reminded her too much of “Won-Won.” But after a few days of Matthew calling Ron “Won” whenever he saw him, Hermione had grown quite accustomed to it.
A few days after he was attacked, Blaise Zabini had woken up from his bout of unconsciousness with a rather odd memory of what happened to him. As he told Aurors, he was listening to the end of the Puddlemere-Holyhead Quidditch game, when his house-elf Croaker had come in yelling his name. Next thing he remembered, pain was going through his body, and only Croaker had been there. It was then decided that Croaker had decided to rebel against his Masters and attack Blaise, and that Blaise had defended himself, killing the house-elf before he went unconscious.
Because of the reports of a strange blonde-haired wizard that had brought Blaise into St. Mungo's, it was still suspected that an Agent had something to do with Blaise's attack. Thanks to Harry, there was now round-the-clock Aurors guarding the Janus Thickey where Xenophilius was still in a coma. Though by the end of August, as Kingsley had personally reported to Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Luna, the Agents seemed to have gone dormant again, and all trails had gone cold.
August 31st, 1998
“Won! Won!” Matthew's voice said in the speaker.
Hermione shook her head, chuckling to herself.
“Matthew,” Hermione said, mostly to herself, “You're supposed to be going to sleep.”
Because of his leg injury, they hadn't had many meals at the table in the past month. But now that Ron was able to walk a bit on his leg, though it still pained him, Hermione had surprised him with a romantic candlelight dinner, much to his fancy. She had been washing dishes, by hand, in the kitchen after dinner when Matthew had called for Ron. Hermione had put Matthew down for bed before dinner, but he seemed to still be awake.
Hermione pointed her wand at the sink and the scrubber started to wash the dishes on its own. She then walked out of the kitchen and found that Ron was not on the modified bed in the living room. She raised her eyebrows and looked toward the stairwell, tapping a foot in annoyance. He had told her he couldn't get up the stairs at the moment!
She sighed and walked up the stairs and into the nursery. Ron was sitting in the rocking chair, his bum leg in front of him, and Matthew was sitting up on his lap.
“Sissy!” Matthew said, giggling when he saw her.
Hermione smiled and kneeled down next to the chair.
“Did you want your Won-Won?” Hermione asked.
Ron chuckled at his old nickname.
“Won!” Matthew said, nodding.
“'Won' knows he isn't supposed to walk up the stairs,” Hermione said, glaring at Ron.
“I'm getting better at it,” Ron said, “Thank you for dinner, it was lovely. What about dessert?”
“I have an apple cobbler in the --” Hermione began, then gave Ron a once-over, “And that was not what you were talking about, were you?”
Ron chuckled and shook his head. “Why do you think I'm trying to help Matty get back to sleep?”
“I put you to bed an hour ago, young man,” Hermione said, looking at Matthew, “You should be asleep.”
“What about your father's lullaby?” Ron asked, “Maybe that will work?”
Hermione frowned. Ever since she had that nightmare of her parents death a few weeks back, she had at least four more of them, but they were always in a different person's point of view. At one point she was in Matthew's view, hiding in the closet. At another point she was her mother. And the worst, by far, was when she was Bellatrix. She had woken up before Bellatrix could even point the wand at her mother, but she was still in the view when her father was killed. This had affected her a lot for days.
“Um... okay,” Hermione said.
She gently picked up Matthew into her arms and stood up, then walked over to Matthew's crib. She laid him down in the crib and inhaled and exhaled. She brushed her hand across Matthew's hair which was starting to get thicker like hers.
“Do you want me to sing it?” Ron asked, sensing her delay, “I remember it.”
Hermione shook her head and felt tears in her eyes. Matthew frowned when he saw her, and she didn't want him to cry because that wouldn't help him get to sleep at all, so she started to sing:
"Now the sun is sinking
In the golden west;
Birds and bees and children
All have gone to rest:
And the merry streamlet,
As it runs along,
With a voice of sweetness
Sings its evening song."
Matthew smiled and put his thumb to his mouth. She repeated the words once again, brushing her hand along his cheek, and Matthew closed his eyes. She turned to Ron and looked at him. He beckoned her over and she smiled and gently sat down in his lap, trying to mind his bum leg. She laid her head back against his neck and watched Matthew as he slowly tried to fall asleep.
“Hermione?” Ron murmured softly.
“Hmm?” Hermione asked.
“I've been thinking about something,” Ron said, “What would you say if I suggested we invited Harry over as a guest for a while?”
“I would ask you 'why'?” Hermione said.
“Well, Ginny's going to Hogwarts tomorrow,” Ron said, “And Harry would be alone at the Burrow.”
“He'd be with your parents,” Hermione said, “And Teddy sometimes.”
“He'd be without Ginny,” Ron said. “I couldn't imagine being alone without you for months on end. I'm sure it will be hard for him.”
“Since when did you get so soft about Harry's relationship with your sister?” Hermione asked.
“She's a pretty permanent part of his life, isn't she?” Ron asked, “I mean – you don't sense anything bad between them, do you?”
“No,” Hermione said, shaking her head, “Everything is right between them. I think it would be a good idea for him to stay over. At least until December. He could stay in the guest room again, and Teddy could visit here sometimes too. I'm sure Matthew would love that. We can fit Teddy's crib in here too, I'm sure. Besides... if you two are going to pass your NEWTs in December – well enough to get into someplace like Brighton – you need my help.”
Ron chuckled. “I won't argue with that.”
“I didn't think so,” Hermione said.
She pecked him on the lips then turned back toward Matthew, who was breathing softly. He had finally drifted off to sleep.
“I think we can go now,” Hermione said.
“Dessert?” Ron asked, with a smirk.
“Soon,” Hermione said, grinning, “Dishes before dessert. Since you're up here, it looks like we can have our own bed tonight.”
“Finally,” Ron said, “I'll write a letter to Harry inviting him here while I wait for you.”
Hermione smiled and kissed him softly on the lips again. She carefully stood up, minding Ron's leg and walked over to Matthew's crib.
“Good night, my little man,” Hermione said, kissing him on the forehead.
September 1st, 1998
“Ten-minute warning for all students!” the conductor's voice rang out through Platform 9 ¾, “Ten minutes until the Hogwarts Express leaves!”
Ginny pouted as Harry wrapped her arms around her in a hug.
“August went by way too fast,” she said.
“That is like the third time you've said that today,” Harry said, grinning.
“Ginny, you better hurry, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said a few feet away.
“I'm standing right outside the door, Mum,” Ginny said, her eyes still on Harry, “And I have ten minutes. I think I can get on the train in time.”
Harry snickered. “I promise I'll see you on your first Hogsmeade weekend.”
“Halloween,” Ginny said, “Do not forget.”
“Not possible,” Harry said.
“Anniversary of your parents' deaths,” Ginny said, nodding, “And Hermione's. Right.”
“Never a good holiday for me,” Harry said.
“This year will be much different I promise you,” Ginny said.
She looked at her mother, then back at Harry.
“I'll make it extra special,” she whispered into his ear.
“Mmhmm,” Harry said, “I can already see that.”
Ginny grinned and kissed him softly. He returned the kiss and she backed up.
“Will you miss me?” she asked.
“I dunno,” Harry said, grinning, “Ron and Hermione invited me over to their house until December. Between them and Teddy, I'll be awfully distracted. And I imagine Hermione will be making me study for NEWTs. Might not have time to miss you.”
Ginny glared at Harry and he laughed.
“You should get a new owl sometime,” Ginny said, “It has been over a year since Hedwig's death. And you can write to me.”
“Won't you write to me anyway?” Harry asked.
“Of course,” Ginny said, “But --”
“I know,” Harry said, nodding, “I was thinking about it.”
“Ugh,” Ginny said, frowning, “This is my first year at Hogwarts without you.”
“It will be fine,” Harry said, “You have plenty of things to distract you. You're Head Girl and Quidditch Captain.”
“Ugh,” Ginny said, again. “I have to find almost a whole new team.”
“You can do it,” Harry said, “Good practice for when you become a Captain in the Professional Quidditch league next year.”
“Thanks for the sarcasm,” Ginny said.
Harry grinned and Ginny kissed him again. He returned the kiss and didn't back away until he heard the conductor.
“Five minute warning!” the conductor said.
“Ginny,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“I know, Mum,” Ginny said, rolling her eyes, “I can hear it.”
Ginny pecked Harry on the lips again and backed up. Harry watched her as she walked over to her mother and hugged her.
“Have a good term,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Remember, you need to go to the Head and Prefect compartment for the meeting. You're Head Girl. The best of the best.”
“Yes, Mum,” Ginny said, “I know. I'll see you at Christmas.”
“Write to me and your father,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Don't waste so much ink on Harry.”
“Yes, Mum,” Ginny said, “I have to go.”
She backed away and walked back over to Harry. She kissed him again and he chuckled as she dragged him back toward the door of the train.
“Not yet, Ginny,” Harry said, backing up, “In December, I promise. And Halloween.”
“See you then,” Ginny said, “I love you. Always will.”
“I love you too,” Harry said.
She pecked him on the lips and he backed away. She backed up through the doorway, and the train started to leave. He waved to her and she smiled and disappeared through the hallway.
“That girl is madly in love with you,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“I know she is,” Harry said.
“I'm very happy for you two,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Do you have to go to Hermione's house? It won't be the same without you.”
“I'll visit when I can,” Harry said, “But this is the best idea so we can study for our NEWTs.”
“You're right, of course,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Say 'hi' to Ron, Hermione and Matty for me, eh?”
“Of course I will,” Harry said.
He hugged Mrs. Weasley and smiled as he backed away. He headed toward the Apparation-Safe area of the platform and was soon standing on the doorstep of Hermione's house.
“Stay where you are!” a voice said, behind Harry.
Harry turned around and saw Auror Fawning standing there.
“Oh, Mr. Potter!” she said, “My apologies.”
“Sorry,” Harry said, “Did not mean to startle you.”
“No, I'm sorry,” Allison said, “Auror Bones said you would be staying here for a while. I should have expected it.”
“He wanted me to tell you,” Harry said, “He will be coming over to assist you and Phillip in your duties from time to time. Auror Thatcher will be staying at the Burrow to protect them just in case.”
“I will watch out for him,” Allison said, “Thank you for the warning.”
“Again, sorry for startling you,” Harry said.
Allison smiled and Harry opened the front door and stepped into the Hermione's house.
“Anyone here?” he called out.
“Upstairs in the bathroom!” Hermione's voice called, “You can come in!”
Harry walked up the stairs and headed toward the bathroom. When he opened the door, he saw Hermione bathing Matthew in an extended version of the bathroom sink. Hermione looked quite wet herself; her shirt was almost completely drenched in front.
“Bath-time,” Harry said.
“Mmhmm,” Hermione said.
“Won!” Matthew said.
“No, that's Harry,” Hermione said, chuckling.
“Hi, Matty,” Harry said, grinning, “Where's Ron?”
“St. Mungo's,” Hermione said, “Urine tests to see if his blood is clean. Your things arrived earlier. They're in the guest room. Thank you for accepting our invitation, by the way.”
“Couldn't pass it up,” Harry said, “Fancied spending some time with my best mates. It isn't too much of a bother.”
“How is it a bother?” Hermione asked, “We invited you!”
“I know,” Harry said, “I just know how much you and Ron love the privacy here.”
“We can still have our privacy,” Hermione said, “It won't be too different than when we were here in February. Except now we have Matty with us.”
“Just remember to put a Muffliato Charm on your door and walls at night,” Harry said.
“Always do,” Hermione said, with a smirk.
“How did I know you were going to say that!” Harry said.
Hermione giggled and Matthew giggled too. He splashed soapy water, and some landed on Harry's shirt.
“Ah,” Harry said, “You and Teddy have so many things in common, Matty.”
“At least it isn't anything you have to get used to,” Hermione said, chuckling.
Matthew chuckled too and this caused Harry and Hermione to laugh again.
Ginny inhaled and exhaled as she reached the Prefect compartment of the train. She walked into the compartment and looked around. She recognized Tessa and many of the now-sixth year prefects from the previous year. However there were three new sixth year prefects; Two Slytherins and a Gryffiindor. Scott, Tessa's boyfriend and former Gryffindor prefect, who had been killed in the Battle of Hogwarts was now replaced with a mousy, rather handsome boy. Tessa, who looked as if she hadn't smiled in a while, had a smile on her face when she saw Ginny. She smiled back and looked at the other sixth-year prefect. She recognized the girl instantly: Astoria Greengrass, younger sister of Daphne Greengrass who had been in Harry's year.
She didn't recognize any of the fifth years and knew there would have to be some introductions coming. When she looked around for her fellow Seventh Year, the Head Boy, she couldn't see him.
“Er.... where's the Head Boy?” Ginny asked.
“We were hoping you would know,” Astoria Greengrass said, “He hasn't shown up yet.”
“We don't even know who he is,” a fifth year in Hufflepuff robes said, “Do you?”
Ginny shook her head. “How about we start anyway and he can catch up when he gets here, okay?”
Everyone nodded and Ginny sat down.
“As a few of you know,” Ginny said, “I am the new Head Girl, Ginny Weasley.”
“Harry Potter's girlfriend,” the sixth-year Slytherin boy said.
“Tyler,” Astoria said, “We agreed we weren't going to talk about that.”
“It's okay,” Ginny said, “Yes... Tyler, is it? I am Harry Potter's girlfriend. And yes, I did leave for half-a-term last year from Hogwarts to help Harry out on his quest to help destroy Voldemort. But I am back, and I want to focus on my school-year. Can everyone introduce themselves?”
“I'm Tessa,” Tessa said, “Er... I was a prefect last year as well with my --”
Tessa frowned and inhaled.
“My late boyfriend,” she continued, “He died protecting me in the Battle of Hogwarts. I decided to stay on as prefect in his memory.”
“Wade O'Leary,” the other Gryffindor sixth year said, an Irish dialect in his voice, “Aren't you the Quidditch Captain, Ginny?”
“Yes,” Ginny said, smiling.
“I'll be trying out for the team this year,” Wade said.
“Did you try out last year?” Ginny asked.
“No,” Wade said, “Was in the Hospital Wing that day with a over-sized nose due to a potion.”
A few of the prefects snickered.
“Astoria Greengrass,” Astoria said, “You may know my sister, who graduated last year.”
“Wasn't she the one who pointed out Harry to everyone when Voldemort called out for him?” a fifth-year Hufflepuff asked.
“No,” Astoria said, “That was Pansy Parkinson. I'm quite surprised that I am prefect, however. I am rather shy, and not really a people-person. Tend to mostly stick to my schoolwork.”
Suddenly, someone cleared their throat and Ginny looked up at the entrance to the compartment. Her eyes widened as she saw the tall boy with slick white-blonde hair and Slytherin robes. A shiny badge was pressed onto his robes over his heart. Ginny cursed under her breath. She had not expected this at all. What was he doing back?
“Sorry I'm late,” the newcomer said, “I'm Draco Malfoy... the new Head Boy.”
Cliffhanger! Draco's reason for being at Hogwarts will come up next chapter. Let's just say... it was not exactly his choice. Also there is a specific reason he is Head Boy. You'll also find that out soon. Hint: both of those have similar reasons.
So Ginny's Hogwarts portion begins! I will of course, be going back and forth between Ginny, and Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Hope you liked this chapter!
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Author's Note: The title of the chapter means “Sleeping Dragon” and has to do with Draco. You'll come to understand why soon. Time to answer a comment.
Q: There is no logical way they would make a Death Eater Head Boy after the war. All of the wizarding world would march to Hogwarts and lynch him.
A: All of this (including his Death Eater status) will be explained by the end of this chapter. As will his father's status as well.
All eyes were on Draco as he walked into the compartment and sat down on the other side of the seat away from Ginny. Most expressions were of shock and surprise. However, Ginny noticed, Astoria Greengrass seemed to be staring at him another way... the way Ginny would look at Harry, in fact, for years before they were a couple and many times since.
“What are you doing here, Malfoy?” O'Leary asked, “I thought you graduated last year.”
“Kind of difficult to do that when I wasn't at Hogwarts last year,” Draco said, “As for why I am here – well – that is for me to know and – well – that's just none of your business. I'll leave it at that.”
He looked at Ginny and raised his eyebrows.
“Weren't we in the middle of introductions, Head Girl?” he asked.
Ginny cleared her throat. “Er – yes,” she said, then turned to the others, “Please continue.”
Ginny was only paying minimal attention to the prefects as they introduced themselves. She tried to her best not to look at Draco, but still she couldn't help but wonder why he was Head Boy. She could understand his reasons for coming back to Hogwarts – he needed to finish his education, of course, and since he hadn't been at school at all the previous year, he didn't have the option of just taking his NEWTs like Harry did. But the title of Head Boy? When he had a part in the murder of Albus Dumbledore? Although he was being used, and it wasn't his choice, he still disarmed the late Headmaster. Surely Headmistress McGonagall didn't make Draco Head Boy – and if not – who did? The Deputy Headmaster had not been announced, but she assumed it was probably Hagrid or Professor Flitwick.
“Anything else?” Draco asked, looking at Ginny.
Ginny blinked and looked around at everyone. They were looking back at her.
“Er – oh, yes,” Ginny said, “This is mainly to the new prefects and – Head Boy, though I know you were prefect, Draco, so it might not matter.”
Draco shrugged and motioned for her to continue. Ginny remembered Hermione's Head Girl speech from the previous year and decided to use that.
“Okay,” Ginny said, “Having been a prefect myself, I know it is pretty hard to be do be a prefect and do your schoolwork too at the same time. It is very time-consuming. But you were chosen because you are the best of your year.”
Ginny glanced at Draco very briefly, knowing that probably didn't qualify for him.
“If you have problems or questions,” Ginny said, “Come find me.”
“Or me,” Draco said.
Ginny raised her eyebrows, not expecting that. “Yes, or Draco. Now, when you arrive in your Common Rooms tonight, you will all find your scheduled corridor duties. These corridor duties are part of your duties as a prefect. If you skive off them, you could have your Prefect privileges taken away. Curfew for every student in the castle is ten-o-clock. Nobody is to be out past that time, unless they are accompanied by a Professor or they are in dire need of medical help. Prefects do not care about house points.”
A few of the fifth year prefects groaned.
“She's right,” Draco said, “Prefects care about their duties. So if one of your own house-mates break rules, you will be expected to dock points from even them.”
“But,” Ginny said, impressed that Draco stepped in, “Not everyone deserves detention, so do not give those out so generously. You also must keep up with your schoolwork and duties or your title of prefect could be taken away. Anything else, Draco?”
Draco looked at Ginny. He straightened himself up and looked around at them.
“I know that you all know who I am,” Draco said, “I know you think I took part in the murder of Albus Dumbledore. I was coerced into it by the Dark – by Voldemort. I am not, nor have I ever been a Death Eater. I was not branded by choice, but by force.”
“And your father?” Wade asked.
“My father may have been branded by choice,” Draco said, “But he renounced those ways when Voldemort decided to treat him no better than Mud – Muggleborn. Everyone of you knows the powers Voldemort had. I am here to complete my education and try to continue my life for the better. I am here to be the Head Boy I would have been last year if if I was not under lock and chain by Voldemort.”
Ginny did her best not to scoff. Ron was a far better Head Boy than Draco would ever be.
“So don't harass me about that,” Draco said, “Or I will take away your titles.”
“I agree,” Astoria said, “He deserves a life after Voldemort as much as the rest of us.”
Ginny looked at Draco, who raised his eyebrows at Astoria. He cleared his throat and looked back at Ginny.
“Anything else?” he asked her.
“Um... no,” Ginny said, “You may go. Draco, stay here a moment. Head student stuff.”
Draco shrugged and the prefects stood up and left the compartment. Astoria was the last to leave, and she looked back at Draco. Draco's eyes went to her, and she blushed and left the compartment.
“I think Astoria has a thing for you,” Ginny said.
“Greengrass?” Draco asked, “Doubt it. My parents and her parents are old friends. I've known her for years. I don't think she – I mean – whatever.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Ginny said, with a smirk.
“What did you want to talk to me about, Weasley?” Draco asked, “I assume it isn't about you and Potter.”
“Why are you really here?” Ginny replied, “Why are you Head Boy?”
“The honest answer?” Draco suggested.
“If it isn't too difficult for you,” Ginny said.
“It wasn't exactly my choice to come back,” Draco said, “Believe me, there are other ways to get on in life, even if I didn't complete my education.”
“It wasn't your choice?” Ginny asked, “Who then?”
“Ask me that after the Opening Feast,” Draco said, “You might know the answer by then anyway. To that and your question as to why I am Head Boy.”
Ginny stared at Draco with raised eyebrows. A smirk crossed Draco's lips and he stood up then disappeared out of the compartment. Ginny harrumphed and walked out of the compartment as well. As she walked through the corridors of the train, looking for a place to sit, she thought of this new development. Draco Malfoy, whom Hermione had suspected was the Agent that had stalked her and Ron during their anniversary dinner in July. Was he really an Agent? He said he just wanted to live his life now that Voldemort was gone. But he was never known for being so honest about things. Always lying, always twisting answers around. But she wondered if he had been honest this time. Harry had saved his life in the Room of Requirement. Draco would have probably been killed if Voldemort was still around. Maybe he had changed for the better.
After five minutes of searching, she finally found Luna Lovegood and Romilda Vane sitting in one of the compartments. Ginny blushed as she looked around at the compartment, her mind going back to that memorable time with the Daydream Charm on her birthday. She was lost in the thought of it, and hadn't even realized Luna had opened the door.
“Are you okay?” Luna asked her.
“Wrackspurts,” Ginny said, sitting next to her, “Definitely Wrackspurts.”
“Ah, I thought so,” Luna said, grinning.
Across the compartment, Romilda was looking out the window, looking rather distraught.
“Are you okay, Romilda?” Ginny asked.
“She's been quiet since I arrived,” Luna said.
“It's Dean,” Romilda said, frowning, “I'm not sure if our relationship is going to survive long-distance like this.”
“Oh, I'm sure you'll be okay,” Ginny said, “There's always owl post and Hogsmeade weekends. It is what I have to do with Harry.”
“Yeah, sure,” Romilda said, nodding.
“Are you going to try out for the Quidditch team again?” Ginny asked.
“Are you serious?” Romilda asked, “I was horrible as Seeker.”
“Oh, you're all right,” Ginny said, “Just a bit of practice is needed, is all, right?”
“Yeah,” Romilda said, “I guess I'll try out. But if someone else tries out as Seeker, and they are better, pick them. I'm serious.”
“Deal,” Ginny said, smiling.
“So how was the prefect meeting?” Luna asked.
“Interesting,” Ginny said, “Draco Malfoy's back and joining us in Seventh Year. He's the new Head Boy.”
“You're serious?” Romilda asked, “Malfoy? He disarmed Dumbledore that night on the Astronomy Tower. Everyone knows that.”
“I think he was coerced,” Ginny said, shrugging, “By Voldemort.”
“Coerced?” Luna asked.
“Wrackspurts,” Ginny translated.
“Oh,” Luna said, “That does make sense.”
“Must have been interesting with him there,” Romilda said.
“He was okay,” Ginny allowed, “Actually took part in everything. Not everyone was disappointed to see him there either.”
“What do you mean?” Romilda asked.
“You know Astoria Greengrass?” Ginny replied, “She's in your year.”
“Yes,” Romilda said, “She's very odd. And not in the way you are, Luna. You're much more interesting than she is. She's.... bland and boring. She's very shy. She's the prefect? You're serious?”
“Yep,” Ginny said, “And I think she fancies Draco.”
Romilda snickered. “Are you serious?”
“That's kind of cute,” Luna said, “Draco needs someone to calm him down. Astoria Greengrass would do that.”
“Did he seem interested in her?” Romilda asked.
“He was oblivious, like all boys,” Ginny said.
“Astoria's very lucky then,” Romilda said, “Oblivious boys are easy to snatch.”
“You got that right,” Ginny said, nodding, thinking of Harry, “Harry was quite oblivious for a while. Years, in fact.”
Romilda nodded and looked back out the window. Her thoughts were probably on Dean. This made Ginny think of Harry. Of how it hadn't even been an hour since she had last seen him. Had kissed those lips, and she could almost feel them on her own...
Almost. She frowned. Halloween couldn't come soon enough.
“One more, Matty!” Hermione said, “Can you take one more step?”
Harry grinned as he watched Matthew giggle and step forward, closer to Hermione's legs, with a little assistance from Hermione. Ron was still at St. Mungo's, though Hermione had expected he would be home soon.
“Very good!” Hermione said, lifting him up into her arms.
“Before too long, you'll be chasing him around the house,” Harry said.
“Maybe not for a couple more months,” Hermione said, “But perhaps you can actually walk by yourself by the time your first birthday comes around, huh, Matty?”
“Hopefully I'll be walking by myself then too,” Ron's voice grumbled.
Harry looked over his shoulder. Ron was hopping into the room with the aide of his crutches.
“Won!” Matthew squeaked.
“Hey, big guy,” Ron said, “Hey, Harry.”
“Hey, mate,” Harry said.
“Oh, no,” Hermione said, “Bad results?”
“Still black specks in my urine,” Ron said, and groaned as he sat down on the couch.
Harry moved over to the recliner.
“Just specks,” Hermione said, “That's better.”
“Yeah,” Ron sad, “The Healer said it could take two to four more weeks. I swear when I get back to work tomorrow, I'm going to obliterate all the those bloody powder rocks.”
“Language, Ron,” Hermione said in a scolding tone.
“Impressionable baby,” Ron said, “Right. Come here, Matthew, want to see your 'Won'?”
“Won!” Matthew said again.
Hermione grinned and sat down with Ron. Ron gently pulled Matthew into his lap, and Matthew laid against his chest. Ron kissed Hermione softly and Harry tried his best not to roll his eyes. He was definitely going to have to get used to that again.
“I'm sorry, love,” Ron said, clearly ignoring Harry, “I'm just a bit bothered, is all. Potions can mend bones in a night. It might take me two months to get to that night. I just want to be able to walk on my own by your birthday. Even if I have to temporarily use a walking stick or something. How's Ginny, Harry?”
“She was okay,” Harry said, “Practically dragged me onto the Hogwarts Express with her. Probably wanting to recreate her birthday or something.”
“You never told me what you did with her,” Ron said.
“You don't want to know, mate,” Harry said.
Harry looked at Hermione and she blushed. He knew she was thinking about her birthday present to Ginny.
“Oh,” Ron said, “I see.”
“Just that night, mate,” Harry said, “Nothing like that since.”
“No different than what you and I do, Ron,” Hermione said.
“Ugh,” Harry said, “Please – keep that talk in your own room. Impressionable baby, remember?”
“Impressionable best mate, more like,” Hermione said, grinning.
“You win,” Harry said.
“So when is your next weekend to spend with Teddy?” Hermione asked, “He is very welcome to come over. The crib in Ginny's room could be in either your room or the nursery.”
“Next weekend,” Harry said, “Going over to Andromeda's on Friday afternoon.”
“What do you think, Matty?” Ron asked, “Do you want to see Teddy again?”
Matthew nodded and giggled.
“Can you say Teddy?” Hermione asked.
Matthew shook his head.
“Well, at least he knows 'yes' and 'no',” Harry said, “Even if he can't say them.”
“Ugh,” Hermione said, “I'm sure 'no' will be his favorite word soon. Mum said it was one of my favorites, and Matty is so much like me.”
“Like sister, like brother,” Ron said.
Hermione smiled and nodded.
“So... Ginny wants me to get a new owl,” Harry said.
Hermione frowned as she looked back at Harry. “Will you get one?”
“I told her I was thinking about it,” Harry said, “It has been over a year since Hedwig died. Long enough, I guess.”
“Pigwidgeon is here,” Ron said, “If you ever want to write to Ginny, you are welcome to use him.”
“I know,” Harry said, “But I think it would cheer Ginny up to know I am using a new owl.”
“If you want my help,” Ron said, “Come by after work tomorrow. We can go to Eeylop's together.”
“Matthew and I are going too,” Hermione said, “Mr. Ollivander set up his shop again last month in time for new students, and I want to get a new wand. I want to be done with Bellatrix's wand.”
“All right,” Harry said, “I'll go tomorrow then.”
“Well, I'm going to make some lunch,” Hermione said, standing up, “Any suggestions, Harry?”
“Anything but what Matty eats,” Harry said.
Matthew giggled at the sound of his name.
“Coming up,” Hermione said.
“Want Matty?” Ron asked.
“Hmm,” Hermione said, “What do you think, Matty? Are you hungry?”
“Guess that is a yes,” Hermione said..
She gently picked him up into her arms and walked into the kitchen.
“So how are you, mate?” Ron asked, “With Ginny at Hogwarts, I mean?”
“Why do you think I accepted the invitation to come and spend time with my best mates?” Harry asked.
“Aw, you're lonely,” Ron said, “How sweet.”
“Not everyone has the luxury of spending every day with their girlfriend – er – fiancee, in your case,” Harry said.
“Have you and Hermione talked anymore about that?” Harry asked, “Your wedding?”
“We told you,” Ron said, “We're waiting to even begin talking about it until after we get out of Hogwarts.”
“I know, mate,” Harry said, “But by then you could be in an Auror training camp.”
“It wouldn't be any different than what we're doing now,” Ron said. “We're living together, raising Matthew, our – er – you know intimate life isn't on hold because we're not married. Only thing that is different is she's not a Weasley yet. We're fine with it for now, mate. Even if training camp takes a few months, and Hermione and I don't get married until after I get out of training, I'm fine with that.... and I'm sure she is too.”
“What about you?” Ron asked.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“Have you and Ginny talked about that route?” Ron asked, “I'm just curious as her brother – she's just seventeen now so --”
“She has no desire to become engaged until she's out of Hogwarts,” Harry said.
“Well,” Ron said, “Either way, I'm happy for you and her. No matter how many times I've said different.”
“Thanks, mate,” Harry said.
Harry's eyes traveled around the room. On the mantle of the fireplace, a moving picture of the entire Weasley family, including Fred and Charlie, taken at Bill's wedding, was sitting in a frame. Harry could see Ginny waving and he smiled. He did miss her already... even if it had only been an hour. This was definitely going to be a tough eight weeks for him – and he knew it would be for her too.
(Ginny's PoV – Seven hours later)
Ginny walked through the large oak doors of the Great Hall with Luna and Romilda. She smiled as she looked around. There was no sign that the Great Hall had even been the sign of battle, or the grim aftermath where the injured and dead lay. Though Ginny could still remember standing near Fred's body.
“What in the dickens?” Romilda said, breaking Ginny from her reverie.
“Hmm?” Ginny asked, as she sat down beside Romilda at the Gryffindor table.
“Did you see who is up at the Professors table?” Romilda asked.
Ginny shook her head and looked toward the table. It didn't take long to see a man in a black cloak sitting there. His blonde hair, the same color as his son's, though much longer as it went past his shoulders. Lucius Malfoy's eyes found her and she immediately turned away back to Romilda.
“Don't tell me he is one of the new Professors?” Romilda asked.
“He can't be,” Ginny said, “No one in their right mind – he may not be a Death Eater now, but a former Death Eater?”
“Wasn't he a school Senator once?” Romilda asked. “Maybe he's here for that reason. Like Fudge was.”
“I certainly hope not,” Ginny said.”Fudge was the Deputy Headmaster.”
Ginny frowned and looked toward the Slytherin table at Draco. When he saw her looking at him, a smirk crossed his face.
“I think I know why Draco is here,” Ginny said, “And why he is Head Boy.”
“His father?” Romilda asked.
“Before Ginny could respond, however, led by Rubeus Hagrid, twenty-or-so first years had made their way to the other end of the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall had walked around to the front of the Professors' table. The ancient Sorting Hat, looking a bit burned from the damage Voldemort had done to it, but still looking as good as ever, was sitting on a small stool.
"Before we begin the sorting, I have some bad news," Professor McGonagall said, "Due to the damage it had sustained in the great Battle of Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat is unable to give its annual Pre-Sorting song."
Many sad remarks and "awws" erupted from the students around the hall.
"The Sorting Hat has asked me to apologize to you on its behalf," McGonagall said, "But it is able to continue with its sorting. So, let's begin."
It took almost half an hour to sort the new students into their respective houses, though Ginny noticed there were at least eight new Gryffindors and only two new Slytherins.
“Thank you, Sorting Hat,” McGonagall said, as Argus Filch moved it off to the side, “To those of students who have just joined us, welcome, to those returning students, welcome back. I am extremely pleased to see so many students, especially after the great loss this castle was put through only months ago. We lost a few students --”
Near Ginny, Tessa sniffled and her new fellow sixth-year prefect comforted her.
“ – but the threat of Voldemort is over,” McGonagall said. “Now to a few announcements. We have two new staff members and a staff-member update. First of all, I would like to introduce one of the new appointments to the staff this year: Professor Redcorn. He will be the new Muggle Studies Professor.”
McGonagall looked to her left. Down near the end of the table, a man in his mid-forties stood up and bowed slightly. He had short reddish-brown hair and was of average height. The students around the Hall applauded the new Professor, who sat back down in his chair.
“Second,” McGonagall said, “And this may come as a shock to many of you. After a bit of discussion between the Wizengamot, the Hogwarts Senators, Minister Shacklebolt and myself, we had come to a decision about the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. I'd like to introduce Lucius Malfoy, who was agreed to take the position.”
Ginny groaned and many students raised loud objections. Lucius Malfoy did not stand. He only glared at the reaction from the students. Professor McGonagall raised her hands to silence the students.
“Yes, it is true,” McGonagall continued, “He was a former Death Eater --”
“Once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater,” Michael Corner said.
“Thank you, Mr. Corner,” McGonagall said, “However, after much deliberation and much discussion, Professor Malfoy has said he has renounced his ways as a Death Eater and his life in the Dark Arts – and –“
She raised a hand to quell the students.
“And has asked to become to the Defense Professor,” she continued, “So as to prove this. I'm sure he will allow you to ask him questions during your first lesson with him. And I'm sure he will gladly answer them.”
She briefly looked at Lucius and he bowed his head slightly.
“Thank you, Professor,” McGonagall said, “Third, and this could not come any sooner, I would like to announce that our Care of Magical Creatures Professor, Rubeus Hagrid, while he will also remain the Professor, he is now the Deputy Headmaster of Hogwarts.”
Ginny's cheers and applause were the loudest as they rang out across the hall. Hagrid stood up and bowed slightly, and Ginny grinned as she saw large tears in his eyes.
"First I want to make the usual reminder," McGonagall continued, "The Forbidden Forest is strictly off-limits to everyone. The forest is a very dangerous place, more-so as of late. The battle that had taken place here has done considerable damage to the Forest. That just doesn't mean the trees and plant-life in the forest. Hagrid has told me that the magical creatures are in a particularly foul mood right now. So I do not want to hear anything about any of you going into the forest.
"Next, as you all know, the castle had also taken some considerable damage in the battle. Over the summer, we had done some repair to the castle, but more has to be done. I want all of you to be extra careful when walking around the corridors. Also, Mr. Filch has asked me to remind you that magic is not to be used in the halls, and a number of magical items are illegal to use in the halls as well. For the complete list, see your notice boards in your common room.
“To those students who are old enough, the occasional Hogsmeade weekend privileges are still given. Aurors are stationed in Hogsmeade throughout both terms of this school year to make sure the village is safe and Dark forces cannot come in. Lastly, I'm sure you all miss the Hogwarts Quidditch league owing to the fact we could not complete it last year. It is back on, and I know everyone is itching to get the Quidditch Cup back in their House. Watch the noticeboards for try-out dates. But now, I'm sure all of you are hungry, so without further ado... let the feast... begin.
As soon as she said this, the tables were covered with plates, bowls and other various dishes of all the sorts of food the Hogwarts Kitchens had to offer.
“Renounced his ways as a Death Eater,” Romilda said, her eyes on Lucius, “What rubbish.”
“I'm definitely going to be writing Harry about this one,” Ginny said, “I'll like to see what he thinks about it.”
“Maybe he can get some inside information,” Romilda said, “Isn't he friends with the Minister?”
“Kind of, yes,” Ginny said.
Dinner was the usual affair of talk and celebration, and Ginny expected much discussion was about Lucius. Up at the table, Lucius kept to himself, but his eyes traveled around to students, and more than once, Ginny found his gaze on her.
After dinner as she walked out of the Great Hall, she found Draco Malfoy standing by the steps that lead up to the Grand Staircase.
“What do you want?” Ginny asked him.
“Just wanting to know if your question has been answered yet,” Draco said.
“I guess so,” Ginny said, “Care to explain in some detail.”
“As the Headmistress stated,” Draco said, “My father, and my mother, was sent in front of the Wizengamot. They were there to try to find a way to stay out of Azkaban. My mother, at the moment, is currently working with Dumbledore's brother in the Hog's Head, as his assistant.”
“Bet she hates that,” Ginny said, with a smirk.
“She doesn't like it,” Draco said, “And my father asked to prove himself. He wanted to prove that he wasn't associated with the Dark Arts anymore. He may have the Dark Mark on his arm, just like myself, but neither of us are Death Eaters. I never have been and he renounced his ways.”
“He said he renounced his ways a few years ago,” Ginny said, “Only to come back when Voldemort returned.”
“Voldemort isn't going to return, Weasley,” Draco said, “Even so, my father wants to change. And he wants to prove it by being the Professor that teaches how to fight the Dark Arts. He also made two other requests.”
“What were those?” Ginny asked.
“He wanted me to be welcomed back into Hogwarts,” Draco said, “And he wanted me to be able to prove myself. He wanted me to be the Head Boy so my fellow students and our Professors could see that I, too, am a changed man.”
“We'll see about that,” Ginny said, “You have to earn it, Draco. There are far better students who could be in your position.”
“Like Michael Corner?” Draco asked, “Your former boyfriend? The boy who chose to question the decision of McGonagall, the Wizengamot and the Minister himself?”
“You sound like Umbridge,” Ginny said.
“I am far better than that toad,” Draco said. “I assume you are going to write to Potter about all of this.”
“Yes,” Ginny said, “Would you like me to send him a message?”
“One message,” Draco said, “Tell him 'thanks' for saving my life three times.”
“Three times?” Ginny asked.
“Twice when he saved me during the battle,” Draco said, “The Room of Requirement, and I know it was him under his cloak when he took out a Death Eater who was fighting me. And a third when he defeated Voldemort. I would be dead if it wasn't for him. So tell him that for me.”
“Really?” Ginny asked, “You want him Harry to know you thank him?”
“I'm a changed man, Weasley,” Draco said, “I'll prove that to you sooner or later.”
Draco looked past Ginny and nodded. He walked past her and she turned. Draco walked over to Astoria Greengrass and a group of Slytherins and led them down into the dungeon.
“Draco?” a voice said, “Have you forgotten where the Common Room is already?”
Ginny turned and saw Astoria standing there. Draco raised his eyebrows and looked back at Ginny, who raised her own.
“I might have,” Draco said, with a smirk, “Care to refresh my memory?”
Ginny grinned as Draco walked off with Astoria toward the dungeons.
“Miss Weasley?” a voice said near the doors of the Great Hall.
Ginny saw Professor McGonagall walking toward her.
“I assume you know you about the Head Girl bedroom by now,” she said.
“Yes, Headmistress,” Ginny said.
“Wonderful,” McGonagall said, “Allows me to skip the explanation. Follow me and I will help you get into the room.”
“I was just talking to the Head Boy,” Ginny said, as she followed McGonagall up the Grand Staircase.
“Ah, yes,” McGonagall said, “Draco Malfoy.”
“Seems like there has been strings pulled during the summer,” Ginny said.
“Quite a few,” McGonagall said, “Lucius Malfoy is trying to -- well -- I believe his exact words were 'trying to get his name back after Voldemort took it from him'.”
“More like he is trying to stay out of Azkaban,” Ginny said.
“An immense truth in that, Miss Weasley,” McGonagall said.
“What do you think about all of that, Headmistress?” Ginny asked.
“Only time will tell if Lucius Malfoy has changed his ways,” McGonagall said, “I will be keeping both eyes on him. Who knows? He may surprise us all.”
Ginny nodded. However much she doubted this, she had to agree with the Headmistress. Only time would tell if Draco and Lucius Malfoy were really changed men. As soon as she was settled into the room, she started on a letter to Harry, and made sure he knew all about these new developments at Hogwarts.
Ginny's letter to Harry will be seen at the start of the next chapter.
Hope you understood why Draco and Lucius are at Hogwarts. I wanted an interesting twist in the Hogwarts storyline and I thought it would work.
Also, as you can see, I have made many hints at Draco and Astoria's future relationship. I am a Draco/Astoria shipper. I like writing about the two of them. I may even focus a couple PoVs on the two of them and their slowly-budding relationship.
Hope you liked this chapter!
Last edited by Fury; February 6th, 2012 at 11:47 pm.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
The Honest Truth
The following morning, Harry woke up in the guest room of Hermione's house. The time on the digital clock indicated it was a few minutes after eight-o-clock. He stared at the ceiling of the room and frowned. Ginny would probably be in the Great Hall at the moment, having breakfast before her first lesson. All of a sudden, the desire to take the Marauder's Map from his things and just stare at Ginny's dot as she went to different part of the castle was very inviting. But he decided that was just mental.
He got out of bed and proceeded to find a suitable outfit for the Diagon Alley visit he would take later that day. He then went down to the kitchen and found Hermione feeding Matthew his breakfast.
“Morning, Harry,” Hermione said, “Sleep well?”
“Well enough,” Harry said, then spotted breakfast on the table, “Cinnamon buns? I wasn't even aware you knew how to make those.”
“Very funny, Harry,” Hermione said, “I'm not completely like my parents when it comes to food. Ron's headed for work. He wants us to meet him in Diagon Alley around five. Oh, and you already have Owl Post from Ginny. She must miss you if she wrote early enough to get the letter here this early in the morning.”
Hermione indicated the rolled up piece of parchment on the table. Harry, ignoring Hermione's snickers, sat down hastily and grabbed the parchment. He unrolled it, then proceeded to read:
You're probably surprised I am already writing a letter to you, but this could not wait.
You will not believe who is here at Hogwarts at this very moment. Draco Malfoy and his father! Yeah, and Draco Malfoy is the new Head Boy. Ugh – I'm going to have to do patrols with him all year. He told me and the prefects during our meeting on the train that he was never a Death Eater and he was coerced into it by Voldemort. I know he used to brag about being a Death Eater more than once. So I don't know if I could believe that. But.... he says he's changed his ways. I don't know.... I mean, it is possible, I guess. Right? Oh, right, this is you I am talking to. You probably doubt he could change his ways. But he seems different.... I don't know... nicer, perhaps? I mean it. We actually had decent conversation last night. He still calls me by my last name, of course, but you can't change everything. Also, apparently it wasn't his choice to come back.
It seems it was Lucius Malfoy's choice for Draco to come back. Lucius is now the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. I can't wait for my first class with him. Headmistress McGonagall is letting us interrogate him and ask him questions. That will be interesting. You should have heard the uproar when he was announced in the role. The unity of the tables was amazing. But apparently he wanted the job. He wanted to prove that he has changed his ways and have renounced his ways as a Death Eater. Teaching the students how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts – seems the best way to do it, I guess. But he also had two requests: one, that Draco would be given permission to return to school to complete his education, and two, he wanted Draco to be Head Boy so he could prove himself to the rest of the students. Apparently Minister Shacklebolt and the Wizengamot had a lot of say in this. I can imagine the Owl Post coming into the Ministry after students tell their parents about all of this. A former Death Eater teaching at Hogwarts, just months after the Death Eaters attacked it.
Oh, before I continue with lighter side of this letter, Draco asked me to give you a message: he says “thank you”. Yes, you read that right. He thanks you for saving his life from the Room of Requirement and a Death Eater during the battle. And he thanks you for saving his life when you defeated Voldemort, because he says he would be dead now if it wasn't for that. I don't expect you to give a “you're welcome” or anything. Just letting you know.
I imagine you're going to let your best mates read this news about the Malfoys, so I'll give them a warning here. Ron and Hermione, stop reading after this line. It is personal between me and Harry!
I mean it Ron!
Anyway... I miss you so much, Harry, even though it has only been less than twelve hours since I saw you (I am writing this after the Opening Feast, before I go to bed, but I am sending it very early tomorrow morning.). So many things remind me of you. Like when I walked into one of the compartments of the Hogwarts Express and it looked exactly like the one from our Daydream Charm. I took a nap during the ride, and lets just say I had a very good dream because of it. I'll let your imagination decide what I dreamed about.
But that is not the only thing that reminds me of you. For example, I walked past the couch in front of the fireplace to get to the stairs, you know? And I remembered all those wonderful times we spent on the couch together. Ugh... I can't wait until December I can snog you on that couch again. And then, right now I am in my Head Girl bedroom, on my bed, and you know Ron spent so many nights with Hermione up here, just sleeping and who knows what else. And that makes my imagination wander of how you could be here too. I'm sure I'll be snuggling up to my pillow when I wake up. (Additional note: Yep, I was! Ugh, I miss you!)
I am counting down the days to Halloween. Yes, I promise I will focus on my studies and my patrols and Quidditch. I am thinking that try-outs will be at the end of the second week. I asked Romilda Vane to try out again. I have hopes she can improve as Seeker. Oh, speaking of Romilda, while you're “on the outside” and you see Dean anywhere, tell him to send Romilda some very sweet posts or something. She really misses him, and she is afraid their relationship isn't going to last while she is here. She's really great for him, and I don't want that to happen. So please, do that for me. And I don't care if you tell him the idea was mine – he probably won't care, even if I am his ex-girlfriend.
However, I am not like Romilda. I know you and I will survive this. You'll probably have so many letters from me – speaking of, are you going to get an owl? Please do! – and I'll see you at Halloween, and then of course you'll be here a month later, for two weeks. So I'm okay. Even if I do miss you – how many times have I said that in this letter? – anyway, I love you more than you'll ever know. And I won't tell you the things I'm going to do when I see you at Halloween. That will be my surprise. You better be there, or I'll send you Howlers everyday for the following month. I mean it!
I don't want to end this letter, but I really need to go to bed. I know you'll write back to me, so I don't have to ask. I imagine Ron will let you send me a letter with Pig – or you can send it if you get a new owl. Hint, hint.
I love you and miss you.
Harry smiled as he read the letter. His eyes went back to the part about Draco and Lucius. He would have never believed that if anyone else besides Ginny had told him that. Though in the back of his mind, he thought about getting out the Marauder's Map and looking for their dots to see real proof they were there. He expected Ginny would tell him more about Lucius after her first Defense class. He could imagine the things Lucius might teach. He wondered if Lucius would be another Snape – adoration toward the Slytherins and hatred toward the other students. As for Draco... Harry knew the only time Ginny would have to deal with him was during her patrols with him, and during class. She could stick up for herself. He almost laughed at the thought of Draco trying to cross her and ending up on the wrong side of a Bat-Bogey Hex. Perhaps he would suggest that in his first letter to her.
He looked up at Hermione, who was looking between Matthew and him as he had read the letter.
“Anything interesting?” she asked, with a smirk.
Harry slid the parchment across the table.
“Harry, that's private,” Hermione said, “I don't want to --”
“She knows you'll probably read it,” Harry said, “She even gives you an early warning where the private part for 'my eyes only' comes in.”
Hermione grinned and gave the last bite of Matthew's breakfast to him. Matthew giggled and part of it went to his chin. She cleaned it off with a napkin, then proceeded to read the letter. Harry watched her as her eyes grew bigger with every line. When she reached the middle of the parchment, she rolled her eyes, probably at Ginny's message to her and pushed it back over to him.
“Draco and Lucius Malfoy are at Hogwarts,” Hermione said, in disbelief.
“That's what Ginny said,” Harry said.
“Wow,” Hermione said, “I-I'm shocked. Lucius Malfoy wanting to be a Professor and Draco --”
“You still think he's an Agent, don't you?” Harry asked.
“I don't know,” Hermione said, “The Agents have gone dormant again... what if Agent 314 wanted to do that because one of their Agents are in Hogwarts? Could be an undercover job, but --”
“Ginny said he seemed different,” Harry said.
“I know she said that, Harry,” Hermione said, “I read that. Yes, he thanked you for rescuing him. But – this is Malfoy we're talking about. You remember him bragging about his Death Eater status to his cronies. Now he is saying he was coerced? It is probably just talk.”
“I'll write to Ginny when I get my new owl,” Harry said, “And ask her to keep an eye on him, though I imagine she's already going to do that. But – maybe he's telling the truth, Hermione. Sure he bragged about being a Death Eater, but so did many others. Now Voldemort's gone and – well -- maybe Draco wants to change and start his life over – like everyone else is trying to now that Voldemort is gone.”
“I know,” Hermione said, “I wonder what Ron will think about this. We'll have to ask him tonight.”
Harry nodded and returned his focus on Ginny's letter. He smiled as he read the more personal part of the letter again.
“Ginny wants me to talk to Dean,” Harry said, “About Romilda. I guess Romilda has those long-distant relationship jitters.”
“What about you?” Hermione asked, “Any of those jitters?”
“Are you kidding me?” Harry replied, “If Ginny keeps sending me letters likes this, it will keep me going until Halloween.”
“What exactly did she write?” Hermione asked, “No – nevermind, that is private.”
“Lets just say she loves your old bed and wishes I was there too,” Harry said.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I should have known.”
Harry chuckled and returned to his letter again and wondered what Ginny was doing at this moment.
Ginny's first Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson would take place after lunch. Potions was her first lesson of the day. As Harry, Ron and Hermione had done the previous year, the first term of Potions would be all about medical Potions. Essence of Dittany was the first potion they would be studying. Because she had helped her mother over the years with these, and also helped Hermione out with quite a few during the hunt for the Horcruxes, she had done pretty well with the potion in class and she felt the short essay would be pretty easy as well.
As Ginny sat down to lunch, Romilda Vane was talking to her fellow Gryffindor sixth years about their first lesson.
“He didn't even favor the Slytherins as much as I thought he would,” Wade O'Leary said, “I wonder if he really has changed his ways.”
“Are you talking about Luc – Professor Malfoy?” Ginny asked, “I have his class next.”
“Yeah,” Wade said, “Our first lesson was with him.”
“How was he?” Ginny asked.
“Everyone thought he wouldn't want to answer any questions like the Headmistress had requested,” Tessa said, “But he was pretty inviting.”
“I still think he was forced to do it,” Romilda said, “You'll see, Ginny. He kept answering our questions as if he had to do it.”
“Well, he did have to make a deal with the Wizengamot, didn't he?” a blonde girl said, “I mean – maybe if he isn't a good teacher, he'll be forced to go to Azkaban.”
“That is possible, Cheyenne,” Romilda nodded.
“What did he teach you?” Ginny asked.
“Stuff about the Death Eaters,” Wade said, “I think it is going to be the same for everyone, even the first and second years. He was telling us about why the Death Eaters choose to do what they do. It was rather grim sometimes, but he knows this stuff. It was pretty wicked to listen to, I'll say.”
“The Slytherins kept asking him to give really specific details about the Death Eaters,” Cheyenne said, “And he kept ignoring them. Slytherin is his former house and his son's house. At one point, he took ten points away from one guy because he asked the Professor to show him his Dark Mark. He told the bloke it wasn't something to be happy about.”
Ginny raised her eyebrows and she looked at the others for confirmation and they nodded. Ginny hurried up with her food and started off to class. When she arrived, a few of her fellow Seventh Years were sitting down, and Draco was at the front of the class talking to his father in hushed whispers. Ginny saw Luna beckoning her over. It seemed they were having class with all four houses.
“What are they talking about?” Ginny whispered, as she sat down.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Luna said.
“Not now, Draco,” Lucius said, “Sit down, please. Or I'll --”
“Give me a detention, Father?” Draco asked.
“I might,” Lucius said.
Draco turned and when he saw Ginny looking at him, he looked away and sat down at a table on the other side of the room. Lucius stood up from his desk and walked around it. The students who were talking to each other stopped immediately.
“Welcome, Seventh Years,” Lucius said, “to Defense Against the Dark Arts. As Headmistress McGonagall told you last night, I am Professor Lucius Malfoy. I expect to be called 'Professor' 'Professor Malfoy' or 'sir'... if you please. As the Headmistress also said, you can ask me questions about why I have chosen to teach you and why I have renounced my ways as a Death Eater. I will start out with my own details and maybe the questions will lower quite a bit, hmm?”
He looked around at the students, and Ginny noticed a few were looking at him rather doubtfully.
“I was once a student like yourselves here at Hogwarts,” Lucius said, “I was a chosen as a prefect in my fifth and sixth year and a member of Professor Slughorn's 'Slug Club'. When Voldemort --”
He paused and looked around to see the reactions of students at the name and shrugged.
“-- I can see the name does nothing to you older students anymore,” he continued, “Impressive. I joined the Death Eaters when I was young and foolish and high on the need for blood purity in the wizarding world. Many of my fellow Slytherins back then were interested in becoming a part of Voldemort's group. While many of our fellow students back then wanted to be Quidditch players, Aurors, members of the Ministry and the Wizengamot, myself and my fellow Slytherins were all about joining the Death Eaters in hopes we could rid the wizarding world of those we deemed – unfit – to join this school or the wizarding world itself. We believed purebloods should only join with purebloods. Even Half-bloods were unaccepted – yes, Mr. Corner?”
Ginny looked at Michael, who had his hand raised halfway.
“Surely you realized back then that if the purebloods only married purebloods,” Michael said, “The wizarding race would die out soon. Our world needs Muggleborn and half-bloods for our race to survive and thrive.”
“It was an accepted risk to Voldemort and many of his followers,” Lucius said, “Half-bloods meant that Purebloods, mostly –“
He paused and looked at Ginny, who narrowed her eyes.
“-- mostly those we called blood-traitors,” he continued, “and other half-bloods mixed with Muggles to create Muggleborn, and that was just unacceptable. Those purebloods who mixed with dirty blood were thought to be filthy and not a part of our world. My own sister-in-law, Andromeda, married a Muggleborn, and she was soon to be a long-forgotten member of her family. When Voldemort fell the first time – you know the story, I trust? – when he fell, many Death Eaters, including myself went dormant. Many Death Eaters had been killed or put in Azkaban, while others, like myself, chose to disguise ourselves and lie to the Ministry. I lied for many years, mostly to save my own skin, you could say, but the biggest reason was --”
He paused and looked at Draco.
“ – was to raise my own son and try to move on,” he continued. “Most of the Death Eaters felt Voldemort was not going to return and that the Death Eaters were long gone. Some of you may know about the term Horcruxes – those who don't, you will learn about them this term. Voldemort had made Horcruxes – six of them.”
“Seven,” Ginny said, “Only he didn't know about one of them.”
Lucius stared at Ginny and raised his eyebrows.
“Ten points to Gryffindor for that correction,” Lucius said, “Thank you, Miss Weasley.”
Ginny's eyes widened and the Slytherins groaned. Draco looked at his father with a mix of shock and disbelief.
“Yes,” Lucius said, “Seven. I, unknowingly, had one of these Horcruxes in my posession for many years, until I passed it on.”
Lucius looked at Ginny and she looked away from him.
“It was later destroyed,” Lucius said. “If I may be honest with myself, I think that is the reason I have renounced my ways. Voldemort was unhappy, you could say, that I had given away one of his Horcruxes. I was considered an outcast and that is why I renounced my ways. I was no longer a part of his inner circle. I should backtrack a bit, I suppose. When Voldemort returned – every one of you know the night of which I speak. It was the night of the final task of the Triwizard Tournament.”
“The night Cedric Diggory was murdered,” a Hufflepuff girl said.
“Yes, Miss Reynolds,” Lucius said, “That is correct. Many of you know the story... Harry Potter was taken by Portkey to a graveyard in Little Hangleton near the house where Voldemort's Muggle father and grandparents once lived. Yes – Miss Lovegood?”
“How did you and your – friends – feel when you found out Voldemort was a Half-blood?” Luna asked.
Ginny grinned as she looked from Luna to Lucius.
“He kept that secret for many years,” Lucius said, “Paraded himself around as a Pureblood. Many Death Eaters were in shock and disbelief when they found out. I thought it was rather ironic, to be honest. But I also realized that is why Voldemort was the way he was and why he hated Muggles. Because his own father hated him before he was even born. Not surprising. He was conceived because of a Love Potion. Anyway... Voldemort was brought back to life through a very difficult process. He then summoned myself and the other surviving Death Eaters. Were we thrilled he was back – perhaps? Shocked even more so. He never treated us like equals. We never were equals in his eyes. It took me years to discover this – this could also be given as a reason to renounce my ways. Harry Potter survived because of the twin wands and Voldemort was bent on trying to to kill him.”
Ginny looked at Draco and came up with a question for Lucius. She lowered her hand and avoided Draco's eyesight.
“How did you feel when Voldemort targeted your son as a Death Eater?” Ginny asked.
Lucius stared at Ginny for a moment.
“Betrayed, more or less,” he said, “I had failed to acquire the prophecy that had to do with Voldemort and Harry. So of course I was being punished. And my punishment was to --”
Lucius glanced at Draco and then back to the rest of the students.
“ – was to watch my son be put through a test that may have very well ended his life,” he said, “It was an almost impossible task. Voldemort knew Draco couldn't do it – I knew Draco could not do it. Voldemort would not listen to me when I pleaded with him to choose someone else – anybody else. Voldemort was all about spite. He had failed to defeat Albus Dumbledore during the battle in the Department of Mysteries and the Atrium of the Ministry. He was all about ending Dumbledore's life and he did not care who was killed in the process. You see – everyone knows Voldemort was incapable of love. That was taught to the wizarding world by the Ministry after Voldemort's downfall. That was one of the major differences between him and many of his Death Eaters, including me. I could not watch my son become a Death Eater, but I had to do it. But that was when my change of heart started, I believe. Seeing my own son in the cross-hairs really made me do some thinking. If anything else about my story gives you doubt, do not doubt this. I love my family more than life itself. I would do anything for them. And I did – the day I renounced my ways as a Death Eater and backed away from the Dark Arts. Now I am here to teach you how about the history of the Dark Arts and how to defend yourself against those who still relish in it.”
Lucius looked around at the students.
“Any more questions?” he asked.
Ginny raised her hand again.
“Yes, Miss Weasley,” Lucius asked.
“Do you – or your son, for that matter,” Ginny said, “know anything about these so-called Agents?”
Lucius stared at Ginny for a moment.
“Whoever is controlling the Agents,” Lucius said, “It is unknown to me. If they are trying to bring Death Eaters into their group, I don't know that either. They have not tried to contact either of us, nor would we want them to. Anything else?”
Whether her fellow classmates had more questions or were simply stunned by how much he had revealed, Ginny didn't know.
“Grand,” Lucius said, “For the first term of this class, you will be learning more history about the Death Eaters, their techniques when it comes to dueling and fighting, and how to identify a Death Eater. Not all Death Eaters have the Dark Mark branded on them, and if there are any more recruits, they will not have the Dark Mark branded on them either. Only Voldemort and those who were his most trusted could brand new recruits, and they are either dead or in Azkaban. No, I will not show you my Dark Mark. I do not consider it a part of my life anymore. Please... do not ask me about it.”
Lucius looked around at the students, wondering if anyone would dare to do so anyway.
“Grand,” Lucius repeated. “Now, what I am going to teach you this term cannot be read in a book. Therefore, I expect you to listen to me and I expect you to take notes for further studies outside of class. Is this understood?”
“Yes, sir,” most of the class said.
However, Michael Corner raised his hand.
“Yes, Mr. Corner?” Lucius said.
“Will this be important on our NEWTs?” Michael asked.
“Honestly... no,” Lucius said, “Your NEWT studies will start the following term. This term, as a I stated, is to teach you to know your foes, those Death Eaters who are still at large, when you are no longer under the protection of this school. Yes?”
“Yes, sir,” Michael said.
“Shall we proceed?” Lucius asked.
While Ginny and the rest of her fellow Seventh Years took notes, Lucius drawled on about the early history of the Death Eaters, what the name meant, and why the group was first created. Homework at the end of class was to take those notes the students had taken and to turn it into a twelve-inch essay due at the start of the following class.
After class, when Ginny left the classroom, she saw Draco Malfoy walking in the direction of Transfiguration, their next class.
“Draco,” Ginny called after him.
Draco slowed to a snail's pace and Ginny approached him.
“Can I talk to you?” Ginny asked.
“You want to talk to me?” Draco asked.
“We're Head students,” Ginny said, “We're going to be doing patrols together. We should learn to try to – behave around one another.”
“I suppose,” Draco said, “Though I was thinking I should do my patrols with – other people.”
“Astoria, perhaps?” Ginny asked, with a smirk.
“Perhaps,” Draco echoed, “Come on if you want to talk to me. We need to get to class or McGonagall will have our badges.”
Ginny nodded and walked with Draco down the corridor.
“I suppose much of what my father said surprised you?” Draco asked.
“It did,” Ginny said, nodding, “I didn't expect him to reveal so much. Did the Wizengamot make him do that.”
“No, actually,” Draco said, “That is what I was talking to him about at the start of class. I was asking him what he was going to reveal about his past as a Death Eater. When he told me, I raised objections and --”
“And he told you to leave it alone?” Ginny suggested.
“Yes,” Draco said.
“I noticed you gave him a rather harsh look when he gave me ten points for Gryffindor,” Ginny said.
“I was quite surprised,” Draco said, “I think he really can change his ways. Can I ask you a question and trust you'll be honest with it?”
“Perhaps,” Ginny said.
“Why did you ask my father about the Agents?” Draco asked, “Does Potter think my father or I have something to do with it?”
“Someone was stalking Hermione and Ron,” Ginny said, “at the dinner on their first anniversary as a couple.”
“Granger and your brother, huh?” Draco asked.
“Yes,” Ginny said, “Anyway – it was decided that it could have been someone who was familiar to them. A fellow student of theirs.”
“And they thought of me, of course,” Draco said.
“An Auror spotted a possible Agent when we were in St. Mungo's last month,” Ginny said, “And he said they were tall and blonde.”
“And you assumed it was me,” Draco asked.
“The Agent had brought in Blaise Zabini to St. Mungo's,” Ginny said.
“I heard about that,” Draco said. “Blaise had been tortured.”
“And they said they were friends with Blaise,” Ginny said.
“It is true, I would consider him my friend,” Draco said, “But he has many friends. A few tall, blonde blokes too, you know. I'm not the only one.”
“Do you have anyone in mind?” Ginny asked.
“No,” Draco said, “Not off the top of my head.”
“Is that the honest truth?” Ginny asked.
“Yes,” Draco said, “Whether you believe me or not, it is.”
“I'll believe you,” Ginny said, “For now. But you're going to have to work at it to let me trust you.”
“I just want to live my life, Weasley,” Draco said, “What will it take for you to believe me?”
“For starters,” Ginny said, “Call me Ginny.”
Draco harrumphed and rolled his eyes.
“I don't even call my best friends by their first names,” he said. “You're going to have to earn it.”
“What about Astoria?” Ginny asked, “I notice you don't call her 'Greengrass'.”
Draco harrumphed again and walked ahead of Ginny. Ginny chuckled privately and headed off toward Transfiguration class.
(Hermione's PoV – Three hours later)
“You're joking?!” Ron demanded.
Harry and Hermione shook their heads. Shortly after Ron had finished his workday, they were slowly walking (Ron with the aid of his crutches) up the cobbled pavement of Diagon Alley. Matthew was strapped into a stroller that was being pushed by Hermione. Harry had just told Ron the first half of the contents of Ginny's letter.
“Malfoy the Head Boy?” Ron asked, “and his father the Defense professor?”
“Yep,” Harry said, “According to Ginny.”
“McGonagall must be off her rocker,” Ron said.
“I think the Wizengamot and Kingsley had more to do with it than McGonagall did,” Hermione said.
“And now Ginny has to do patrols with Draco all year,” Ron said, “I bet she's not happy.”
“She likes her new bedroom, that's for sure,” Harry said, with a smirk.
“I bet she does,” Ron said, chuckling, “Have you written back to her?”
“No,” Harry said, “I'm going to buy my owl, then write a letter to her.”
“Well,” Ron said, “Let her know I wish her the best of luck with both Malfoys. Ugh... I'd write to her myself, but she's probably looking forward more to your letters.”
“Definitely,” Harry said.
“Well, I am going to go to Mr. Ollivander's,” Hermione said, spotting the wand shop out of the corner of her eyes, “I think Matty will enjoy watching me try out a new wand. I'll see you shortly. Harry, don't let Ron make you get an owl you don't want.”
“I would never do that!” Ron said.
“Uh-huh,” Hermione said, in an I-doubt-it voice, “See you shortly.”
Hermione kissed Ron on the cheek and headed into the shop. She immediately spotted Mr. Ollivander. He looked far better than when she had seen him last. Much more healthy and like his normal self.
“Ah, Miss Granger!” Mr. Ollivander said, “Former wand ten and three quarters inches, made of vine and dragon heartstring. Correct?”
“Yes, sir,” Hermione said.
“And who is this?” Mr. Ollivander said, looking down at the stroller.
“Matthew,” Hermione said, “My brother – he's just a Muggle.”
“Pity,” Mr. Ollivander said, “I would have liked to see what wand would have chosen him. I assume you are here to acquire a new wand?”
“Yes, sir,” Hermione said, again.
“I see you still have the wand once owned by Bellatrix Lestrange,” Mr. Ollivander said.
“For now,” Hermione said, “I was going to destroy it soon.”
“Of course,” Mr. Ollivander said, “A wand that has done much evil like that one should be destroyed. Actually, Miss Granger, I recently came across many old wands that were dumped in my posession after the end of the Battle of Hogwarts. One moment...”
Hermione raised her eyebrows and Mr. Ollivander ducked behind the counter. He took out a large chest and opened it.
“Hmm,” he said, “Let's see. I was wondering if you could do me a favor.”
“Of course,” Hermione said.
“I was hoping you might be able to recognize this wand,” Mr. Ollivander said, a smile across his lips.
He lifted a wand in his hands and Hermione's eyes widened. She felt tears in her eyes as she looked at it.
“That – that is my old wand!” Hermione said, “But – Scabior took it.”
“It was found in his posession, I understand,” Mr. Ollivander said, When he was arrested, it was taken from him and given to me. I recognized it immediately, of course, knowing every wand I've ever sold. I knew you might come in some day to acquire a new wand.”
“I-I,” Hermione said, “Um... thank you!”
Hermione took her wand from Mr. Ollivander and looked at it. She felt a warmth from it she hadn't felt in many months. She pointed it at a flower pot on the counter.
“Wingardium Leviosa,” she said.
Matthew giggled as the flower pot hovered above the counter and set back down.
“Oh, thank you!” Hermione said, “How can I ever repay you?”
“By doing me one small favor,” Mr. Ollivander said. “Hmm... fourteen inches, willow and unicorn hair.”
He lifted another wand from the chest. Hermione looked at it and grinned.
“Do you recognize it?” Mr. Ollivander asked.
“That is Ron's wand,” Hermione said, “Also stolen from a Snatcher, probably Scabior.”
“Indeed,” Mr. Ollivander said, “I was hoping you could give it back to him.”
“Of course!” Hermione said, taking Ron's wand, “Thank you. I'm sure he will thank you too.”
Mr. Ollivander smiled.
“Good day, Miss Granger,” he said, “And Mr. Granger.”
“Say goodbye, Matty,” Hermione said.
Matthew said something that sound like 'aye' and Hermione grinned. She bowed slightly in farewell to Mr. Ollivander and he did so in return. She left the shop with Matthew and headed toward Eeylop's. When she arrived, Harry and Ron were at the till. Harry was holding a cage and inside was an owl that looked a bit familiar.
“Wow,” Hermione said, “Are you sure, Harry? She looks like Hedwig.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, “I'm sure. Her name is Serenity.”
“Nice name,” Hermione said.
“Did you get a new wand already?” Ron asked, “That was quick.”
“No,” Hermione said, then lifted up her wand.
“That – is that – no,” Ron said, grinning.
“It is my original wand,” Hermione said, “Apparently Scabior had it in his posession when he was arrested and the wands were given to Mr. Ollivander – I guess so he could identify them. And look --”
She held out the second wand. Ron limped forward on his crutches forward and took it.
“Blo – I – right, sorry Hermione – I mean – Merlin!” Ron stammered, “Is this –?”
“Is it?” Hermione asked, “You should know, shouldn't you?”
“It is,” Ron said, “Harry! My wand!”
“Brilliant,” Harry said, grinning.
Hermione smiled as Ron stared at the wand, tears forming in his eyes.
“Blimey,” he breathed, “This is cause for celebration. Leaky Cauldron on me!”
Hermione chuckled and nodded. Harry paid for his new owl, and they headed out of the shop.
Throughout dinner, Matthew was giggling and pointing at Harry's new owl.
According to Harry Potter Wiki, Hermione gets her wand back somehow, though it is unknown if Ron does. I decided that he should and this was the best way to do so. I decided to go the unusual route and get Harry an owl that resembled Hedwig. Also – the name Serenity is one of my favorites, so I decided to give the owl that name.
Hope you liked Lucius Malfoy's story and actions. I loved writing it – it was really fun. So was Ginny's discussion with Draco.
I loved writing Ginny's letter too. Harry's reply letter to Ginny will be in the next chapter.
Last edited by Fury; February 8th, 2012 at 2:20 am.
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Posts and Patrols
The following morning Ginny sat at the Gryffindor table, barely touching her food. She was looking at the enchanted ceiling eagerly, waiting for the owls to come in with the post. She had expected a return letter from Harry the previous evening, but none had come.
As she waited, she thought of the lessons she would be having that day: Charms, Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Hagrid's class was not one of her NEWT subjects, but since she needed a sixth, she decided it would be better than Astronomy or Muggle Studies. She wasn't as interested in Muggle Studies as someone like Hermione, and she didn't fancy having class two days a week during the evenings. Especially when she would be having to spend many of those evenings doing her patrols or, when Harry was there for two weeks, spending time with him.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of hooting, and she smiled and looked up toward the ceiling. Numerous owls flew into the Great Hall and Ginny looked around for Pig. Of course, if Harry had bought his own owl, she wouldn't know what it looked like. Then, suddenly, an owl dove toward the table gracefully and perched itself on a jug of orange juice. Ginny's eyes widened as she looked at the owl. It looked almost exactly like Hedwig.
“Is that for me?” Ginny asked, noticing the parchment in the owl's talons.
The owl hooted and Ginny untied the parchment from the owl's leg then unrolled it. It was indeed from Harry.
“You're quite a beautiful owl,” Ginny said, “A little eerie though how much you look like Hedwig.”
Ginny looked down at the parchment and started to read:
First of all, I guess I should introduce my new owl. Her name is Serenity, and yes I know she looks a lot like Hedwig. I saw her at Eeylop's and I knew I wanted her. I know she can't replace Hedwig, but I know she'll be as wonderful as Hedwig.
So... about the Malfoys. I was quite shocked to read that, and Ron and Hermione share my sympathies. Draco as the Head Boy? I can't imagine how your patrols are going to be with him. As for him thanking me for saving his life, you can tell him that he is welcome, but not to think anything of it. Because he probably won't thank me if he learns about what I'm going to say next. I want you to promise me something. If he wrongs you in any way, tell me. I'll march up to Hogwarts and give him a piece of my mind for trying to mess with you. I know that you can take care of yourself, but that is why I am here, isn't it? To protect you? Yes, I can imagine you are thinking 'my hero' right now, but I am serious. I know you can probably give him one of your Bat-Bogey Hexes, but that would just get you in trouble. As for me – I could probably get away with it, right? I know how he is, and even if he has changed, he can change back just as easily. You are right: this was the bloke who bragged about his Death Eater status at many points, and now he says he is changing his ways? I'm not so sure, but I guess time will tell.
I imagine by the time you write another letter to me, you'll already have had one of Lucius' lessons. Hopefully he doesn't give you a hard time. Is he as bad as someone like Snape was? I imagine I'll have to put up with him in December when I come for NEWTs. That will be interesting.
I miss you too – you have no idea. Part of me wishes I could have had the option of making up the term I missed, just so I could be there with you. I'd even put up with the Malfoys if I know you'd be there with me. I had to stop myself from looking at the Marauder's Map numerous times. Just the thought of staring at your name on the map all day is really inviting. I still might do that, especially if you're going to be on patrols with Draco.
You are right, my imagination was running quite wild when you said you dreamed about us on the Hogwarts Express. But since you teased me, it is my turn and I will not describe to you what I imagined. I know you're probably threatening me with a Bat-Bogey Hex or two. But I think I will save the stories for when I visit you on Halloween, given that I'm sure I'll have many more by then. I can't wait to see what you have planned for me and in turn you'll have to wait for what I have planned for you.
Even though I am going to spend these next three months with my two best mates, it does not mean I won't miss you all the same. I'm sure they'll try to distract me in their own little ways – before too long Hermione will probably start making me and Ron study for our NEWTs, so I will definitely be distracted. Matthew's a nice little distraction as well. Hermione and Ron are trying to help him walk, as well as say a few more words. I'm going to try to get him to say my name too, so that will be fun. Ron still has a bum leg, but I imagine he'll be walking without crutches by Matthew's first birthday, and he's hoping to do so by Hermione's birthday. I'm bringing Teddy over to Hermione's house on Friday afternoon. I think I'm going to set up his crib in my room instead of the nursery. I'm sure he'll miss you so much, almost as much as I miss you, and being with me at night would help him.
I'm sure we'll exchange a few more letters before now and then, but good luck with the Quidditch try-outs. When is your first match? I wish I could come up and see it, but I doubt I can. Besides, I'm sure that would just make you want me more since I'd see you anyway on Halloween.
I will try to talk to Dean about Romilda if I meet up with him sometime. If I can get through these few months without you except for letters and the Hogsmeade weekend, I'm sure he can get through them without Romilda. Give her my best though.
I love you so much and am counting down the days until I can see you again.
Ginny smiled as she finished the letter. Her eyes sparkled as she thought of her first Quidditch Match. Halloween would be on that Sunday, and the Quidditch Match would take place the day before. She didn't want to ask McGonagall about it yet since it was so far away, but she hoped she could invite him to watch her play. He could stay in Hogsmeade that night and she could see him the next morning and spend all day with him. She grinned at the thought looked up at Serenity.
“Can you wait for a moment while I write a short return letter?” she asked.
Serenity hooted lowly and Ginny took a quill and a piece of parchment from her knapsack, then started to write.”
I have to go to class soon, so this letter will be much shorter than my last. I will cherish your letter until I get a new one from you.
I love your new owl! She does look like Hedwig, but she is very beautiful, as is her name. And she is quite sweet. I can tell that already. I bet she'll be a very good owl for you. Just as loyal as Hedwig too.
I have a patrol with Draco tonight which should be interesting. If you want to know and, for example, you wanted to watch me on the Marauder's Map, it is scheduled for seven. I promise our dots won't get too close! Ha-ha, I'm just joking with you. It will probably be quite awkward. I'll tell you all about the patrol in my next letter. I promise I won't let him get to me. I can handle him, so please don't have any thoughts of coming up here to do anything to him. Although I would be happy to see you so soon, it would probably just get BOTH OF US in trouble.
I had my first lesson with Lucius yesterday. He's actually quite different than what you think. He gave me ten points for Gryffindor because I corrected him about something. I was pretty surprised. I think his lessons will be fairly interesting. The first term is all about the history of the Death Eaters and how we can defend ourselves against them. Nothing that has to do with NEWTs, strange enough.
Guess what? My first Quidditch Match is the day before Halloween! So maybe, closer to then, I'll ask Professor McGonagall if you could come a day early and watch me play. I won't ask her yet. It is much too early for that.
Say 'hi' and send my love to Ron, Hermione and Matty for me, and tell Ron I hope he gets off those blasted crutches soon. Send a little luck for him from me, okay? I know Teddy will miss me, and I'm sure I'll give you one or two more letters between now and then, but tell him I miss him just as much.
I have Hagrid's class this afternoon, and I'll tell him 'hi' for you.
Miss you even more than I did my last letter, and I love you even more too, if that is possible.
Ginny rolled up the parchment and tied it to Serenity's leg. With a hoot, she took off into the air. Ginny started in on the rest of her breakfast. When she looked up, she noticed Draco had finally decided to come up from the dungeons for breakfast. She smiled to herself as she thought of what Harry said about him, and how he would defend her if Draco did anything. But like she told him, she could handle Draco herself.
Draco bit into a piece of bacon as he looked around the Great Hall. He could see his father concentrating on his own plate of food. He looked up at Draco with raised eyebrows. Draco shrugged and turned away.
“Good morning, Draco,” Astoria said, as she sat down across the table from him.
“Morning,” Draco muttered.
“If I ask you something,” Astoria said, “Would you get offended?”
“Depends,” Draco said, shrugging.
“Is there anything going on between you and Ginny Weasley?” Astoria asked.
“Are you serious?” Draco asked, “No bloody way. She's a blood-traitor, and she's with Potter. Everyone knows that. Why would you ask that?”
“I've noticed you talk to her a lot,” Astoria said, “And I just caught her looking at you.”
Draco looked over his shoulder, toward the Gryffindor table, but Astoria coughed and he looked back at her.
“Don't look, Draco,” Astoria said, “Bloody Merlin.”
“She's Head Girl,” Draco said, “I – er – have my first patrol with her tonight. I'm sure she's wondering if I know about it.”
“You have a patrol round with her?” Astoria asked.
“Of course,” Draco said, “I am Head Boy. Why?”
“I dunno,” Astoria said, “I was – you know – hoping I could do patrols with you. I don't fancy doing them with Tyler.”
“You want to do patrols with me?” Draco asked.
“Well, yeah,” Astoria said, “I mean – we've known each other for a while. You know I'm not much of a people-person. I don't like spending too much time with people.”
“What is so different about me?” Draco asked.
Astoria blushed. “I don't know – I mean – ugh – if you want to do patrols with Weasley, then you should.”
She frowned and looked away.
“Astoria,” Draco said, and Astoria looked back at him. “I'll talk to her tonight about it, okay? It isn't like I want to do these patrols with her. But I thought I had to, you know, because we're the Head students. But if you want to do patrols with me, I'm sure I can set something up. I dunno – this Friday perhaps?”
Astoria blushed again. “I'd be happy to do them with you on Friday.”
“All right then,” Draco said, “I'll talk to Weasley about it. I'm sure she's not looking forward to these patrols with me either.”
Astoria nodded and this seemed to cheer her up measurably. He didn't want to admit it to Astoria yet, but to be honest, he was looking forward more to doing patrols with her than he was with Ginny. Ginny seemed so confrontational with him. Okay, perhaps he deserved it, for giving her, her brothers and Harry hell for so long, but it was like she was trying to catch him doing something wrong. All he wanted to do was finish his education and get on with life. If that meant doing patrols with Astoria instead of Ginny, he was happy to do so.
Ginny's guesses had been spot-on. She would be having all six of her classes with Draco all year. Fortunately, she would also be having them with Luna, so at least she didn't have to pair up with Draco for anything unless she was forced. Just as she had one in Transfiguration, Professors Flitwick and Sprout had started off the new term with lectures about what they would expect on their NEWT exams. They had also done start-of-term exams, which were supposedly like a preview of their NEWTs, and would show the Professors what the students knew and didn't know when it came to their NEWTs.
In Care of Magical Creatures, Hagrid had once again brought out the herd of Thestrals, as he had done two years prior for them. Ginny had known she could see them since the previous year, and she raised her hand along with Luna, Draco and a half of the students in the class when Hagrid asked who could see them.
After dinner, Ginny found Draco waiting for her on the Grand Staircase.
“I see you know about our patrols,” Ginny said.
“I pay attention too, you know,” Draco said.
Ginny nodded and they started off along the corridors of the first floor.
“I gave Harry your message,” Ginny said, “And he wanted me to tell you 'you're welcome', though he doesn't expect it will mean too much.”
“Does he know about these patrols we have to do?” Draco asked.
“Of course,” Ginny said.
“I suppose he warned you to be careful around me,” Draco said.
“You could say that,” Ginny said.
“Well, if it means that much to him,” Draco said, “I could ease his burden.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Ginny asked, narrowing her eyes.
“Astoria wants me to do patrols with her,” Draco said. “We've set up one for Friday night.”
“Aww, how sweet,” Ginny cooed, teasingly.
“It isn't a date,” Draco said, rolling his eyes, “Just patrols.”
“Mmhmm,” Ginny said, “A private walk between the two of you around the castle. I know she likes you and I can see you like her too.”
“I don't appreciate you trying to play match-maker, Weasley,” Draco said.
“I don't think I have to play match-maker, Malfoy,” Ginny said, with a smirk.
“Good,” Draco said, “Because I know how many boys you've been through.”
“Oh, please,” Ginny said, “I've had three boyfriends, and only my relationship with Harry has been serious. In fact, I was only with Michael and Dean to make him jealous, and it worked. Harry's the one for me, and I know it is going to work out. As far as I can see it, I'm with him for life.”
“Uh-huh,” Draco said, “How romantic. Why are you telling me this?”
“I am just letting you know,” Ginny said, “I will do anything for him and he will do anything for me. So if you decide to insult him at any time during this year, you'll have to deal with me. And just let me remind you. He'll be here for a visit on Halloween, and he'll be here for two weeks in December, so I'm sure he can deal with you personally then.”
“What are you on about?” Draco asked.
“Just telling you to watch what you do on these patrols with me,” Ginny said.
“I just said I want to do patrols with Astoria, didn't I?” Draco asked. “I'm sure – er – what's her face – the girl with the dead boyfriend --”
“Tessa,” Ginny said, “And don't be rude. She's still going through a very rough time.”
“Whatever,” Draco said, “I'm sure you could do patrols with her instead of me. I know Potter has that map of his. I imagine if he sees you doing patrols with her instead of me, it will calm him down and keep him off my back.”
“If you want to have patrols – or dates – or whatever you want to call them,” Ginny said, “with Astoria, you don't have to convince me. This will be our only patrol duty together, okay?”
“Good,” Draco said.
“Don't have too much fun with Astoria, though,” Ginny said, with a smirk, “I can just imagine how much trouble you'd be in if a Professor caught you two snogging in corridors during your rounds.”
“Snogging?” Draco scoffed, “Please.”
“Okay,” Ginny said, “Whatever you say.”
Draco rolled his eyes but Ginny grinned when she saw a tinge of blush in his cheeks.
(Harry's PoV – Meanwhile at Hermione's house...)
“Harry James Potter!” Hermione gasped, “Are you spying on Ginny?!”
Harry rolled his eyes as he looked up over the Marauder's Map, where Ginny's dot was walking up the Grand Staircase next to Draco Malfoy's dot. Hermione was standing there in an apron. Behind her, in the kitchen, Ron was feeding Matthew his dinner.
“Nice apron,” Harry said, snickering, “I bet Ron loves seeing you in that.”
“Don't change the subject,” Hermione said, blush raising in her cheeks.
“For your information, “ Harry said, “Ginny gave me permission to watch her during her patrol with Draco. She even gave me the exact time it would happen.”
“What exactly are you going to achieve by looking at two dots, hmm?” Hermione asked.
“Nothing, I guess,” Harry said, “It just calms me down, okay?”
“Is he watching my sister's dot on his map?” Ron's voice called from the kitchen.
“Yes,” Hermione said, “Concentrate on Matty. He just learned a new habit today and he --”
“Ugh,” Ron groaned, “You're supposed to eat the food, Matty, not throw it.”
“He does that,” Hermione said, chuckling.
“Thanks for the warning,” Ron said, and Harry snickered when he saw goo spattered on Ron's face; as he cleaned it up, he continued, “Harry, she's okay. It isn't like she's going to do anything with Draco, you know?”
“I'm more worried about him,” Harry said.
“He won't do anything, mate,” Ron said, “He knows you and I would beat his – sorry, Hermione. You know what I mean, Harry!”
“Yeah, I know,” Harry said.
“I know you miss her, Harry,” Hermione said, as she sat down beside him, “But you'll see her on Halloween.”
“Day before Halloween maybe,” Harry said, “Gryffindor's first match is then, and she's going to try to get me permission to come and watch her play.”
“Well then,” Hermione said, “You have something to look forward to, huh? Believe me, I know how you feel, and how she feels. If things were different, I would probably be at Hogwarts for a full term at the start of the year, and I would miss Ron, and he would miss me. So I know how you feel. But soon you'll get to see her, and I'm not even going to take a guess at what you'll do with her.”
A smirk crossed her face and Harry grinned.
“In a few months, we'll be at Hogwarts for two weeks,” Hermione continued, “And then you'll get to spend much of the time with her, as well as Christmas Break. Right?”
Harry nodded, as he looked back at the map. He lost Ginny's dot then found her, still on patrol with Draco on the seventh floor.
“Exactly,” Hermione said. “I plan on starting our NEWT studies on Saturday. So that should distract you right.”
“I'm sure you'll find a way to, if it doesn't,” Harry said.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Well, I can't deny that.”
Friday, September 6th, 1998
Friday evening, Harry was alone with Teddy in Hermione's house. Ron had to work a couple hours late and Hermione had gone to Diagon Alley as well with Matthew. She was picking up a few NEWT subject books so they could begin studying the following day, and she was going to come home with Ron.
So Harry had decided to surprise them with dinner, though it was technically breakfast food, one of the things he could cook and trust himself with it because he had cooked it so much at the Dursleys for so many years. So while the bacon and eggs were frying on the stove, with a bit of aid from magic, Harry was feeding Teddy with a bottle. The Marauder's Map was in front of him again. Ever since Hermione and Ron had caught him staring at Ginny's dot, he had chosen to do this in secret, because he knew they would just tease him more. At the moment, Ginny's dot was among the other numerous dots in the Great Hall for dinner.
He was concentrating so much on her dot he hadn't heard the front door of the house open and close.
“Mmm, what smells so good?” Ron said, as he slowly made his way into the kitchen, “Oh, Harry, you're staring at my sister's dot again, aren't you?”
“Bacon and eggs,” Harry said, deciding to avoid Ron's last question.
“Breakfast for dinner?” Ron asked, “That is mental, mate. Hey, Teddy.”
Ron groaned softly as he sat down on a chair with a bit of difficulty.
“Yeah, thanks,” Harry said, rolling his eyes, “You could have Matty's food then. When are you going to get off those crutches?”
Ron raised a finger to his lips and looked over his shoulder. He heard Hermione walking up the steps and heard Matthew crying as well.
“Okay, I think she's changing Matty,” Ron said, “I haven't told Hermione, but my next appointment is the night before her birthday. The Healers had a good feeling the powder would be out of my system then. I just don't want Hermione to know, because I want to surprise her.”
“You have to stay at St. Mungo's overnight to let the potion work,” Harry said, “I think she's going to notice something when you don't come home that evening.”
“I'll make something up,” Ron said, “I don't know – I'll tell her George needed me to do something.”
“On your bum leg?” Harry asked.
“I just want it to be a surprise, mate,” Ron said, “I don't care how I achieve it, but I want to walk through these doors on Hermione's birthday without crutches, and see that look on her face.”
“I understand,” Harry said, nodding, “I'll try to help in some way.”
“Thanks,” Ron said, “So it is dinner time at Hogwarts right now. Aww, are you trying to imagine eating with Ginny.”
“Cute,” Harry said, “I just want to know if she's doing patrols with Malfoy.”
“Did she tell you she was going to?” Ron asked.
“No,” Harry said, “She said her last patrols went well, and she said she wasn't sure when her next would be with him.”
“That is odd,” Ron said, “Hermione and I did our patrols at least two or three times a week.”
“I know,” Harry said, “I just hope she isn't hiding something.”
“Why would she hide that?” Ron asked, “You're mental.”
“Oooh! Breakfast for dinner!” Hermione said, grinning as she walked in with Matthew.
She set Matthew down in his high-chair and proceeded to make him dinner.
“Aye!” Matthew cooed.
“Aye?” Harry asked.
“We think it means 'hi' and 'goodbye',” Ron said, “Bet he is saying hi to Teddy.”
“Can you say Teddy?” Harry asked Matthew.
Matthew shook his head as he stared at Teddy.
“How about Harry?” Harry asked.
Matthew shook his head again. Harry pouted playfully and Matthew giggled.
“So I bought a whole assortment of NEWT books for us,” Hermione said, “We'll start tomorrow – yes, even you, Ron, I”m serious.”
“Okay,” Ron said.
“A week of studying at Hogwarts isn't going to be enough to help you get through these NEWTs,” Hermione said, “Especially if you want to get into Brighton.”
“Don't worry, love,” Ron said, “They shouldn't be that much harder than the OWLs, right?”
“Wrong,” Hermione said, “These are much more difficult.”
“Yeah, they're not called Nastily Exhausting for nothing,” Harry said.
“You're obsession with watching Ginny on that map is Nastily Exhausting,” Ron said.
Harry scowled. He looked around the map and he saw Draco standing in a corridor on the first floor. A dot with the name “Astoria Greengrass” was near him.
“Astoria Greengrass,” Harry said, “Ring any bells?”
“Daphne's sister?” Hermione asked, “She's – what – sixth year now? Why?”
“Draco's walking with her,” Harry said.
“They're both Slytherins,” Ron said, “Probably going to the dungeons.”
“They're on the first floor,” Harry said.
“Well, there's your answer,” Ron said, “Perhaps Astoria is a prefect and Draco's doing patrols with her.”
“Maybe they're dating,” Hermione said, sitting down next to Matthew.
Ron snickered. “Are you serious?”
“Draco's not with Pansy anymore,” Hermione said.
“Um... I think Hermione's right, Ron,” Harry said.
“Why?” Ron asked.
“Just a hunch,” Harry said, as he saw Astoria's dot closing in on Draco's....
(Draco's PoV – a few minutes earlier)
Draco walked through the dungeons and into the Entrance Hall. Astoria was sitting on the stairs that led toward the Grand Staircase.
“Finally,” Astoria said, standing up, “I thought you were going to skive me off.”
“So which floor?” he asked as they headed to the Grand Staircase.
“First,” Astoria said, “I have no desire walking up the stairs when I don't have to.”
Draco nodded and they headed into the first floor corridor.
“Slytherin Quidditch try-outs are on Sunday,” Astoria said, “Are you going to try out for the team?”
“Dunno,” Draco said, “I was thinking of just concentrating on my studies this year. Why?””
“You're a very good Seeker,” Astoria said, “I'm sure you could do very well this year. Perhaps even against Gryffindor since Potter's not here anymore.”
“Thanks for telling me I'm not as good as him,” Draco said.
“I didn't mean it like that,” Astoria said, “You're a great player. Besides – oh, nevermind.”
“What?” Draco asked.
“It's just --” Astoria said, “Those Quidditch robes look really good on you.”
Draco raised his eyebrows. “Really?”
“Astoria,” Draco said, “Is there a reason you wanted me to do these patrols with you?”
“I'm not exactly the greatest Prefect ever, Draco,” Astoria said, “I was completely shocked when I was named prefect. My parents were so happy for me, so I really wanted to do a good job. But I'm not so sure. Prefects are supposed to help other students. They're supposed to look up to us, and I have no reason for them to look up to me.”
“Oh, come on,” Draco said, “I bet you're brilliant at your schoolwork.”
“That's just it, Draco,” Astoria said, “I am, sure. But that is all I am. I'm shy and I keep my nose in my books all the time.”
Draco snickered. “You sound like Granger.”
“I'm nothing like her,” Astoria said, narrowing her eyes.
“Okay, I know she's a Mudblood,” Draco said, “But she was the top of her class, as much as I hate to say it. I bet you are one of the smartest in your year.”
“I'm not so sure that's a good thing,” Astoria said, “I feel like an outcast. I mean – you – you were always hanging around your friends. And now – well, I don't see you around too many people.”
“Because everyone avoids me,” Draco said, “I'm like the plague to everyone around here. Ever since I came back. And I'm the son of the new Defense Professor and everyone knows he was a former Death Eater. We were in the middle of Voldemort's group. That makes me the outcast around here.”
Astoria went silent as they headed off down the corridor of the first floor.
“I think that is why I like you,” Astoria said.
Draco raised his eyebrows.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Because we both consider ourselves outcasts,” Astoria said.
“No, I mean – you like me how?” Draco asked.
Astoria blushed. “Is it so obvious, Draco?”
She took his hand in hers and he looked down at the intertwined fingers.
“Astoria,” Draco murmured.
“What?” Astoria said, “Oh... I'm sorry.”
Astoria went to take her hand away, but he took it gently in his. She looked at him, and before he knew it, she was kissing him on the lips, testing the waters first. He could taste her lipstick, and it tasted amazing. He returned the kiss and she chuckled against his lips. She backed away and pulled her with him toward a wall.
“I meant,” she said, “That I fancy you, Draco.”
“I can see that,” Draco said.
“Well?” Astoria said, “Is that the only answer you have for me?”
Draco rolled his eyes and caressed his hands against her cheeks and kissed her again. She gasped against his mouth and opened it, inviting his tongue inside them which he accepted gratefully. Suddenly, the sound of someone – a very familiar someone – clearing their throat made him back away in a haste. Draco turned and saw his father standing there.
“I – er,” Draco stammered, then cleared his throat. “Hello, Father.”
“Draco,” Lucius said, then his eyes slowly went to Astoria, “Miss Greengrass.”
“Good evening, Professor,” Astoria said.
Lucius' eyes darted between the two of them and he walked on down the hall.
“Bloody hell,” Draco groaned.
“I think he approves,” Astoria said, “Of your – er – your --”
“Girlfriend?” Draco asked, a smirk crossing his lips.
Astoria blushed. “I'd love to be your girlfriend, Draco.”
Draco grinned, and chuckled as she pulled him against her lips again, which he, once again, accepted gratefully.
D'aww, I just love Draco and Astoria so much. Definitely more of them before too long.
This chapter was much tamer than my past few chapters, and as such I had a difficult time figuring out what to do with it.
So I kind of teased what I am going to do coming up with Ron when it comes to his injured leg. Will it work? You'll just have to wait and see! I'm going to another time-skip and do a few descriptions. I am having a bit of writer's block at the moment, so if I don't get a load of chapters up over the next few days, that is why.
Hope you liked the chapter!
Re: What Next? - Sequel to "What If?"
Suspicions, Surprises and Sapphires
Author's Note: This chapter has almost nothing to do with the storyline. I blame that on writer's block. I wanted to end one little storyline in this chapter, and I couldn't figure out what else to do with it. So it is basically just Ron/Hermione filler and fluff.
September 9th, 1998
Sorry I didn't write to you all weekend. Remember when you told me all those times that being a Seventh Year was extremely difficult – well, I thought you were joking with me. Now I know you aren't. I had three essays to write: Defense, Charms and Transfiguration. Yes, my second essay in Defense in three classes. Lucius must think it is torture for students. His classes have been extremely repetitive. We usually just take notes and listen to him drawl on about different things. We haven't even performed many spells at all, though he was hinting about doing so this week.
I saw in your previous letter that you mentioned seeing Draco with Astoria Greengrass on the map. He was doing a Patrol with her on Friday night and – get this – the following morning in the Great Hall I see him walking hand-in-hand with her! Of course when he saw me looking at them, he took his hand away from her. She looked rather angry too. It was hilarious. But I guess they're dating now. The best thing this means is I don't have to do any more patrols with him! I'm mostly doing them with Tessa now. Remember her? She lost her boyfriend in the battle? Yeah, she's still going through a tough time about that, but we talk about it sometimes.
Also I saw Draco sitting with the new Slytherin Quidditch team today. The try-outs were yesterday, so I'm thinking he got on the team. I bet he is Seeker again. Probably thinks he can catch the Snitch in the game against Gryffindor since you are no longer here. Speaking of... the Gryffindor try-outs are next Saturday. I really want Romilda to be the Seeker, because I've worked with her before. Yes, she needs some work. I've offered to help her practice a couple days before the try-outs which I think she's pretty happy about.
Is Ron still on his crutches? I'm starting to worry about that. The powder should be gone soon, right? Does he expect me to write to him or anything, like the good little sister I am? I suppose he thinks I could just pass messages from you to him. Tell him I'm thinking about him and hope his leg gets fixed soon.
How was your weekend with Teddy? Did he miss me? I'm sure he did. Did he have fun with Matthew? I wish I could have seen that. Those two are going to be really good friends, I can tell right now.
How is your NEWT studies going? Is Hermione giving you a hard time with it? If she is, give her a piece of my mind. I am sure you'll do brilliantly in December. Plus you'll have a bit of encouragement from me... ugh, I can't wait for December. I can't wait for October!
I miss you so much and I'll try to write more. But I'm sure I'm going to be busy again. Between homework, patrols and getting ready for the Quidditch try-outs and practices, I'm hardly finding time to myself. Makes me miss you even more.
I love you so much
September 18th, 1998
My sincerest apologies for not writing back sooner. Been very busy! As Ron says “same stuff, different day”. More essays, notes, homework! Lucius still hasn't let us do anything with magic in Defense though. But other classes are fun. We got to play with a pack of Crups yesterday in Care of Magical Creatures. Oh my gosh, they are so cute. Hagrid hinted that we might be taking care of them for the next couple of weeks. I hope so. There is one that is really attached to me. He is so adorable. If I could name him, I'd name him after you. Because he's just as cute as you.
Remember how I said I was going to practice with Romilda? That was brilliant thinking on my part! I helped her train for an hour three nights last week. She's really improving and she did great in the try-outs. Though it did help that the only other Seeker who tried out didn't have a very fast broom. I'm still going to have to work with her, but I can't wait to see how she does against Draco. I like my team, but it feels so weird. Besides Romilda and I, absolutely everyone else is a new face. Dennis Creevey didn't even try out for Beater this year, even though he did good last year. I think he's still trying to get over the death of his brother. We had our first practice last night. Pretty good too, though one of the Chasers is rather arrogant. Just great....
Anyway.... whenever I really miss you, I go to our secret places on the grounds and try to think about all the times we spent together and how much fun we had.. Well, I went to our spot near the lake – you know the one, where the Giant Squid always comes to visit us? I was planning on writing my letter there. Well, I was going there, and I found Draco and Astoria there snogging. Okay, you'll probably think I'm weird for saying this about Draco – it is really cute that Astoria is with him. He needs someone like her to calm him down. But catching them snogging like that – well, I wish I could Obliviate myself (don't tell Ron that!). I think Astoria saw me too! For some reason, I don't think she likes me. I hope she doesn't think I fancy Draco or something because I don't. She's mental to think that.
So now I am sitting against the oak tree we love near the edge of the Forbidden Forest and writing this. And it just makes me think of you. I'm sure when you come in December, the grounds will be covered in snow and we won't get to spend any time out here. But we have my Head Girl room, so I'm not too upset about that.
Also... let me get this straight. You mentioned something about Ron wanting to get his leg fixed, and he's come up with this mental plan? He's going to St. Mungo's tonight, the night before Hermione's birthday, in hopes that his leg can be mended and he can surprise her tomorrow? So he's doing this without her knowledge? Yeah, I wish him the best of luck. If his leg is ready to be mended, he's going to be away from Hermione and you and Matthew for the whole night, and that would only worry Hermione. What did he tell her he's going to do? I know he's a good strategist, but this is just mental! Please tell me how that goes, okay? Don't let Hermione go too mental missing him. She's liable to do something really crazy.
Tell her I wish her a great birthday and I wish I could be there to celebrate with her... and be there with you. Okay, that just makes me miss you more. Only a month and a couple weeks until October.
Say hi to Matty for me! Has he said any more words yet?
Love you more than you know.
It was the evening before Hermione's birthday, and Harry was currently in the living room bored out of his mind. Whenever he was bored like this, he would either stare at the Marauder's Map or read the letters from Ginny.
He had just finished up her latest letter and he chuckled as his eyes fell over the word “kisses”. He could just imagine her kissing the piece of parchment, though there was no tell-tale signs of lipstick. Perhaps she hadn't been wearing any today. She hardly wore lipstick unless she was around him, because she knew he loved it, and loved tasting it when he kissed her.
The sound of Matthew cooing broke Harry from his thoughts. He was crawling around his play-pen in the living room and Harry grinned as he looked at him. Matthew had been actively crawling a lot lately, and many times he'd be crawling around the house. Harry remembered one memorable time a few days ago when Matthew tried to crawl after Crookshanks. So Hermione had bought this play-pen for him, and he would spend a lot of the time in it during the day.
Harry heard a growl come from the kitchen, and turned around to see Hermione walking into the room with a piece of parchment in her hand.
“Did you know about this?” she asked, waving the parchment around.
“About... what?” Harry asked.
“Ron says he and George are doing some scouting for possible future locations for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes,” Hermione said, “He isn't going to be home tonight... at all!”
Harry tried to keep a straight face. This was the best Ron could come up with? He saw some big flaws in this plan, and he knew Hermione would probably list them all before he could.
“He's doing this with a bum leg?” Hermione asked, “I bet this is all George's fault. Ron is on crutches still! I'm going to write to Angelina and tell her to lecture George! He could have brought her along instead of Ron.”
Harry's sighed. There was the biggest flaw. If Hermione wrote to Angelina – well – he knew what would happen. What if Ron hadn't told George or Angelina his plan to surprise Hermione, and George wrote back instead of Angelina?
“Or... you could just wait and yell at them tomorrow?” Harry asked, “Or – the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow's your birthday, Hermione.”
“Exactly!” Hermione said, “My birthday! I wanted Ron to be with me when I wake up tomorrow, and now – this! He couldn't do it on Friday?”
“Sissy!” Matthew said.
“Calm down, Hermione,” Harry said, “You're scaring Matty, I think.”
“Oh, I'm sorry Matty,” Hermione said, with a sigh.
She walked over to Matthew and gently picked him up into her arms.
“I was yelling, wasn't I?” Hermione asked him.
“Sissy's sorry,” Hermione said, “I'm just a bit upset. Nothing's wrong. And yet --”
“Well,” Harry said, “ Did Ron tell you anything about this before today?”
“No,” Hermione said, “Nothing.”
“Maybe George only asked him today,” Harry said, “A last minute thing. Ron wouldn't pass something like that up, especially since he wanted the day off tomorrow for your birthday. There's some good things out of this, I think.”
“Like what?” Hermione asked.
“You'll miss him so much tonight that tomorrow will be even better,” Harry said.
“Tomorrow will be great either way,” Hermione said, “But... I don't know. His letter is making me think things I don't want to think.”
“Such as?” Harry asked.
“Ron said he's probably going to be working on this really late,” Hermione said, “and he doesn't want to come home that late, so he wants to stay at the flat above the shop tonight. Harry – I – oh, nevermind.”
“What, Hermione?” Harry asked.
“Well – this surprise letter,” Hermione said, “Scouting locations when there hasn't been been any mention about it in months. Wanting to stay at the shop tonight instead of coming home. What if – I – oh, Harry, do you think he's cheating on me?”
“What?” Harry asked, laughing, “No! Hermione, no. Definitely not. Why would you think that? He loves you.”
“I know he does,” Hermione said, “But – he's been so quiet about things lately. I'm worried about him – about his injured leg. I want him to heal so badly, and every time I bring it up, he avoids the conversation.”
“So because he's avoiding conversation about his leg,” Harry said, “He's cheating on you?”
A smirk crossed Hermione's face. “That's mental... right?”
“Completely,” Harry said, “Look... George is his brother. This is something Fred was wanting to do, right? Expand the shop?”
“Yeah,” Hermione said.
“So of course Ron would want to do that in his brother's stead,” Harry said.
“Yeah, I know,” Hermione said, “Ugh, part of me wants to go to the shop and give him a piece of my mind. I'm just upset.”
“I'm sure he'll make it up to you tomorrow,” Harry said, grinning, “In fact – I planned on going over to Andromeda's house tomorrow and spending time with Teddy, so you can have the whole day to yourself, Ron and Matthew.”
“Harry, if you're doing that for me,” Hermione said, “You don't have to. I want you here to celebrate my birthday.”
“I can make that up to you,” Harry said, “Have you started on dinner?”
“I was going to soon,” Hermione said, “I was making Matty's dinner.”
“Then let me make something instead,” Harry said. “My treat tonight. Early birthday present.”
“Hmm,” Hermione said, “What do you think, Matty? Should I let Harry cook dinner?”
“Harry!” Matthew said.
Harry grinned. “He said my name! Finally!”
“Good job, Matty,” Hermione said, “Why did Ron have to miss that? Ugh... I'm giving him a piece of my mind tomorrow.”
“Is that all you're giving him?” Harry asked.
“Shut up, Harry,” Hermione growled.
Harry heard Hermione chuckle as she walked into the kitchen with Matthew.
When Harry walked out of the guest bedroom the following morning, he heard Matthew cooing in his crib in the nursery. He couldn't hear the tell-tale footsteps of Hermione walking around and he guessed she was still asleep. He walked over to the nursery, and heard Matthew saying “Won! Won!”
“Sorry, Matthew,” Harry said, as he opened the door, “It's just --”
He stopped in his tracks when he saw Ron standing there, holding Matthew in his arms.
“Morning, Harry,” Ron said, grinning.
“You're... standing,” Harry said.
“Yep,” Ron said, “Went in to St. Mungo's last night and I passed my urine test, so I stayed the night and had some really disgusting potions. I asked the Healer if I could leave at an early time today. So they woke me up about a couple hours ago, and we did some tests, seeing if I could walk. I can walk but –“
Ron motioned to a cane hanging off the crib.
“I have to use that for a few days or so,” Ron said, “Just to make sure.”
“Does Hermione know you're here?” Harry asked.
“I think she's still asleep,” Ron said, shaking his head, “I was heading that way and then I heard Matthew in here.”
“She's kind of mad at you,” Harry said, grinning.
“I'm sure she'll get over it when she sees me without crutches and a cast,” Ron said.
“I don't know,” Harry said, with a smirk, “She asked me if I thought you were cheating on her.”
“What?” Ron asked, “I would never –!”
“I know that,” Harry said, “And so does she – but you have to admit. It was kind of a mental excuse you pulled on her. She could have sent a letter to Angelina, or she could have easily gone to the shop to check on you.”
“I'll make it up to her,” Ron said, “Can you watch Matty for a little while.”
“How long?” Harry asked, with a smirk.
“Er – not sure,” Ron said, chuckling.
“I'm going over to Andromeda's house later,” Harry said, “But sure, I'll give Matthew his bath and feed him.”
“Thanks, mate,” Ron said, “Want to see Harry, Matty?”
“Harry!” Matthew said.
Ron raised his eyebrows and looked from Matthew to Harry.
“He started that last night,” Harry said, “Right in front of me and Hermione.”
“And I missed it,” Ron said, “And Hermione was probably – yeah, I really need to make it up to her.”
Harry grinned and gently took Matthew from Ron.
“Have fun, mate,” he said.
“Thanks,” Ron said, chuckling as he walked out of the nursery.
At first Hermione thought she was having a really good dream when she felt Ron's lips caress hers. She blinked her eyes open and looked up through blurry eyes. Ron was standing above her. She raised her eyebrows and looked at him.
“I'm dreaming,” Hermione said, “The Ron Weasley I currently know can't be standing without crutches and he can't possibly be here because he is scouting locations and --”
She stopped when she felt his lips on hers again. She returned the kiss and held his face in her hands, deepening the kiss. She then backed away and propped herself on her elbows as she looked at him.
“Where are your crutches?” Hermione asked, her eyes traveling from his arms to his leg, “And your cast?”
“I have a confession to make, Hermione,” Ron said, “I lied to you last night. I was not scouting locations – George hasn't even decided yet if we're going to do that. I was at St. Mungo's while numerous disgusting potions healed my leg.”
Hermione's mouth opened and closed like a fish as she looked at him.
“You're healed?” Hermione asked.
Ron nodded and motioned across the bed. A wooden walking stick was leaning up against the dresser near the door.
“I have to use that for a couple of days,” Ron said, “And --”
“You lied to me?” Hermione asked.
“A white lie,” Ron said, “I-I wanted to surprise you for your birthday. I've been doing urine tests of my own the past few days and I've seen no black specks, and it was confirmed last night. I wanted to surprise you with the fact I can walk again by myself and --”
Hermione grabbed Ron's hand and pulled him toward her on the bed. He chuckled and and she kissed him, then laid him flat against the bed and straddled his stomach, deepening the kiss, and rubbing her tongue against his lips. When he opened his lips, she backed away and looked at him.
“Don't ever do that to me again, Ronald Weasley,” Hermione said, “I thought – I – well --”
“You thought I was cheating on you?” Ron asked.
Hermione gasped and looked at him.
“Harry told me,” Ron said, “He found me in the nursery with Matthew.”
“Oh, shoot, Matty,” Hermione said, looking at the door.
Ron gently took Hermione's hand and she looked at him.
“Harry's bathing him and feeding him,” he said, “He knows you'd probably be occupied.”
Hermione grinned and kissed him again. Ron pouted against her lips and she backed up looking at him.
“Did you really think I was cheating on you?” he asked.
“I'm sorry,” Hermione said, “I shouldn't have – it was stupid. I was just upset with you, because I've been so used to you sleeping next to me every night, and when the thought crossed my mind that you wouldn't be here, I --”
“I'd never do that to you, Hermione,” Ron said, “I love you – so bloody much. I always have and I always will.”
“I love you too,” Hermione said, “I'm sorry. I --”
Ron put a finger to her lips and she kissed it.
“It is my fault,” Ron said, “I should have just told you.”
“No, I like this surprise,” Hermione said.
She turned slightly and put her hand over Ron's now-healed leg. She caressed her fingers along it and looked back at Ron.
“Not tender or anything?” she asked.
“Nope,” Ron said, “All healed.”
“Prove it,” Hermione said, grinning.
Ron raised his eyebrows questioningly. A grin then crossed his face, and in one fluid motion, he rolled Hermione onto the bed and she chuckled as she looked up at him.
“I missed that so much,” she said.
“Not me,” Ron said, “I was beginning to really like you on top of me.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and blushed. He leaned toward her and kissed her softly.
“Happy Birthday, Hermione,” he murmured against her lips.
“Best birthday present ever,” she said.
“Oh?” Ron asked.
“Mmhmm,” Hermione said, kissing his lips.
He backed away and sat up against her. He put his hand in the pocket of his jeans and took out a small box.
“Then I guess I won't give you this,” Ron said.
Hermione pouted and Ron chuckled as he opened the box. Hermione's eyes sparkled as she saw sapphire ear-rings inside.
“My birthstone,” Hermione said.
“I kind of stole the idea from Ginny,” Ron said, “Don't think she'll mind. You like them?”
“I love them,” Hermione said, “But – I think I'll put them on later.”
Ron raised his eyebrows and she pulled him against her lips. He grinned and she brushed her tongue against her lips. He returned the kiss, and caressed her lips with his tongue until she felt them go numb against his touch. She allowed him to push his tongue on through them, and she rubbed his tongue against hers, massaging it, loving the taste. She could feel the passion in his kiss, something she had missed for so long owing to the awkwardness his leg injury had made their intimacy change. But she could tell he was back to his normal self.
He nibbled on her bottom lip, then moved his lips against her jaw-line and she moaned softly as he moved them slowly up to her ear. She chuckled as he blew in her ear, then gasped when he nibbled softly on her earlobe.
“One moment,” Hermione said, “Almost forgot...”
She took her wand from the nightstand and pointed it at the door, sealing it with a charm and setting the Muffliato Charms.
“How long did you say we had?” Hermione asked, looking back at Ron.
“Mmm,” Ron said, “I imagine Harry will be watching Matthew and his Marauder's map for the next couple of hours.”
“Plenty of time,” Hermione said.
Ron snickered and leaned toward her and kissed her again.
Ugh, I really hate writer's block. My main focus on this chapter was Ron's surprise (his leg getting healed) for Hermione's birthday, and nothing much else. So I completely blanked out on what else to do with Hermione's birthday in the chapter. I might try to figure out how to describe it in a letter to Ginny... probably from Hermione.
Going to do some more time-skips soon. I liked how I did that with Ginny's letters in this chapter so I might do that again. Not sure when the next chapter will go up. Need to do some more notes and plan out the next few chapters.
Hope you liked the chapter anyway!
Last edited by Fury; February 10th, 2012 at 6:57 pm.
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