|SIYE Time:5:43 on 22nd February 2018|
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: The year after the war was a confusing time for the teen warriors. They had fought against the greatest evil - what was next? Follow them as they try to find out. Canon pairings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 84121; Chapter Total: 4904
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thanks to my wonder beta StephanieO! Thank you for the Trinket nominations as well - I really appreciated them :)
Harry returned to the Astronomy Tower feeling as though he'd accomplished something. As he neared the spot where he'd been working, he caught sight of two white stars next to each other. He dropped to his knees beside the stars, his good feelings evaporating. One star read — Remus John Lupin born 10 March 1960 died 2 May 1998 and the other read Nymphadora Tonks Lupin born 12 February 1973 died 2 May 1998.
Reaching out he traced the letters with his finger. In preparing for the upcoming trials, Harry had learned that Remus and Tonks had died out on the grounds, but to actually see it was something else. He felt his eyes well up, but determinedly blinked any tears away. He smiled at the sight of the badger under Tonks' name. He had only found out recently that she had been in Hufflepuff. It seemed to suit the big hearted Auror.
Turning, Harry saw Ron coming towards him. "Ron, sorry I took so long."
"No worries, mate." Ron gestured to the stars that littered the grounds. "Is this the charm you were talking about?"
Harry nodded, "Yeah, I wanted to find a way to honour those who fought and died here."
"I like that," Ron said firmly. "I like the thought that future generations will know my brother g-gave his life for a good cause."
"I hope that Teddy will be able to appreciate it," Harry said as he got to his feet. "I didn't know really how or where my parents died until my third year. I hope having the stones here doesn't cause too much pain."
"Nah," Ron replied. "I think it's a great idea."
The two friends started walking towards the tent that had been set up for meals. "So is Ginny finished with her exams?"
"She will be coming back tomorrow to finish the practical portions," Harry explained. "She took the written exams today."
"I'm glad I'm done with that," Ron said.
Harry laughed, "I agree."
Sitting down at one of the long tables, Harry grabbed a few sandwiches while Ron loaded up his plate.
"Do you have any plans this weekend?" Ron asked.
"Not that I know of," Harry replied.
"Do you think you'd like to come to Hermione's house with me? Her parents invited us for lunch on Saturday."
"Do you want me to go?" Harry asked. "I'd have thought you would want some time with Hermione."
Ron's ears reddened. "I would like some time with Hermione, but I don't think that is likely to happen. I'm a bit nervous about going to a Muggle house, I've never been in one before. I'm likely to make a fool of myself."
Harry laughed, "Knowing how much your house amazed me when I first visited, I imagine you'll be surprised by all sorts of things."
"Probably," Ron said gloomily. "So will you come? Hermione specifically said she wants to see you."
"Let me check with Ginny, but I think we'll be able to come."
Ron frowned slightly, he hadn't meant to invite Ginny. Looking over at his best mate, he decided he probably shouldn't say anything. Hermione had said he could bring anyone he wanted.
"How's she doing?" Harry asked.
Ron shrugged, "It's hard to tell. Her parents found a place to reopen their practice — I'm still not sure what that means — and Hermione is helping them clean and get the place ready to open."
After lunch, the two returned to the pile of rubble upon which they'd been working. They had developed a rhythm for the painstaking process of checking each stone. Each stone was checked for curses, reversing or removing the curses, and then sending the stones to either be used in the rebuilding or destroyed if it had been saturated with Dark Magic.
Many former Hogwarts students had volunteered for the rebuilding effort. Neville, Susan Bones, and Hannah Abbott were working in the Greenhouses with Professor Sprout to salvage the plants they could. Seamus and Dean were working on the other side of the tower while Oliver Wood, Alicia Spinnet, and Cho Chang were working on the Quidditch pitch. Madam Pince had recruited a group that included Ernie MacMillan, Katie Bell, and Lisa Turpin to help put the library to rights.
By late afternoon, the pile of rubble was gone and the tower was looking much sturdier than it had in the morning. The team working on the Quidditch pitch reported that the pitch was intact and the stands had been rebuilt. The charms to protect the stands would be recast the next morning.
Harry and Ron were tired, but happy with the progress they'd made that day. Waving to the others, they Apparated back to the Burrow.
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After dinner, Harry and Ginny walked out to the garden while Ron was telling his father about his day at Hogwarts.
"How was your afternoon?" Harry asked as they headed towards the orchard.
"It was actually really good," Ginny replied with a smile. "Mum was doing really well this afternoon. She was talking and cooking dinner. I went out to fly for a while and then I helped her finish dinner." Leaning up she kissed Harry on the cheek, "It wasn't quite as much fun as cooking with you, but it wasn't bad."
"Good," Harry said as they arrived at Ginny's favourite tree. It was a tall sturdy oak with a platform, not too high off the ground. He sat down on the ground and Ginny curled up on his lap with her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her, just enjoying the feel of her in his arms.
He listened as she told him about her meeting with Professor McGonagall. "I am so proud of you, baby. It sounds like she really listened."
Ginny nodded, "I think she did, she was taking notes and seemed really receptive to my ideas. I actually can't wait for our first prefects' meeting, now."
"Who is Head Boy?" Harry asked curiously.
"Bruce Miller," Ginny replied. "He's in Ravenclaw, he was in the D.A. He's about your height with brown hair and is in the Charms club."
Harry thought back to the D.A. for a moment. "Is he the one who helped with the Easter decorations my sixth year?"
Ginny giggled, "Yes, he's the one who charmed the bunnies to change colours and hop around the enclosure if that's what you mean."
"He seems like a nice guy," Harry said. "Have you talked to him about your plans? He might have some ideas."
"That's actually a great idea," Ginny said sitting up a bit. "I want to do something for Halloween, but I'm not sure what. I should see what he thinks."
Harry smiled as Ginny flowed with ideas for the upcoming school year. He was so proud of her, she was really going to make a difference for the next school year.
"Oh, I almost forgot," Harry said as Ginny grew silent. "We are invited to Hermione's house this weekend for lunch. You could talk to her about your ideas. She's still going to be prefect, right?"
"That sounds like fun," Ginny said with a smile. "I've missed her; I didn't really get to see her much before she left to stay with her parents. I'm assuming she will still want to be a prefect. Professor McGonagall appointed Hermione and Justin as 'eighth year' prefects."
Ron entered the clearing and spotted his sister. "Mum is looking for you. I think she's a bit upset about you being out when it's getting dark."
Rolling her eyes, Ginny stood and held out her hand for Harry's. "There's still plenty of light. I'm not going to get lost on the way back to the house."
"I know," Ron said. "She's a bit much these days, but it's better than her crying all of the time."
"I guess," Ginny said.
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Harry entered his room later that night, surprised to find George sitting on the edge of his bed. He was holding a picture of Harry and Sirius that Harry had on his bedside table.
George looked up as Harry entered. "Oh, hi mate. Sorry…I was just…"
"That's okay," Harry said as George trailed off in confusion.
"How long does it take before it doesn't hurt every time you look at his picture?"
Harry sighed and sat on the end of his bed, "A while. I don't think I could look at a picture of Sirius until after that first Christmas. It would just hurt so badly or…I would get angry at him."
"You got angry at him?"
Blushing, Harry nodded. He had only ever admitted that to Ginny. "I got mad because he shouldn't have even been there and then he shouldn't have been taunting his stupid cousin. He wanted me to live with him and we could have been a family. I was angry at him for ruining that chance and then I'd get upset with myself for being angry at him."
George looked up for a minute and whispered, "I thought I was just horrible for being angry at him."
"No, mate." Harry said. "I think it's kind of normal."
"I just keep thinking what if I had been there, could I have done anything? Would it have made a difference?"
"I don't think so," Harry replied after a moment. "It happened so fast."
The two wizards sat in silence for a few minutes. George looked up, "Lee came and visited me today. He was asking about the shop and what I plan on doing. Part of me wants to say forget it, I don't want to do it. One the other hand, it was our dream for such a long time.
"Lee said Fred wouldn't want me to close the shop and he wouldn't want me being so sad, but…"
"It doesn't help, does it?" Harry asked.
George shook his head and wiped his eyes, "No." He sighed and flopped backwards on the bed. "I almost yelled at Ginny today for laughing. I was thinking what right does she have to be happy and laugh when Fred won't ever be able to laugh again. How sick is that? Me, yelling at someone for being happy, that's so wrong."
He glanced over at Harry and was relieved to see that Harry didn't seem upset with him. "I heard what you did at Hogwarts today. Ron was telling my parents. I think I like that idea, future generations knowing what happened."
Harry nodded, "That's why I did it. At the end of the last war, everyone just seemed to want to forget what had happened and look where that got us. I've heard people talk about the parties and the celebrations after…well after that Halloween. My parents were dead and everyone was celebrating. It just didn't seem right."
"Do you miss them?"
"Yes. I mean it's hard to miss them exactly because I never knew them, but I miss having parents. I used to hate Mothering Sunday — all the kids in class would make cards for their mums and I didn't have anyone to make a card for. I made one for Aunt Petunia once and she crumpled it up and threw it away." Harry looked away; he hadn't really meant to share that part.
"I wish they could be here," he whispered. "I wish they could have met Ginny."
He blinked back the tears, "Did I tell you about what happened before I died?"
George shook his head. It still astonished him that Harry had actually walked out into the Forest with the intention of letting that monster kill him.
"I had the Resurrection Stone," Harry said simply.
George blinked at him, "What? That's real?"
"Yeah, pretty unbelievable, right? Professor Dumbledore had hidden it inside of the snitch he left for me. He charmed it so I couldn't open it until I was walking to my death. I used it to summon my parents, Sirius, and Remus," Harry stopped as his voice cracked. He swallowed the lump that had developed in his throat. "It was an amazing gift. My parents told me how proud they were of me. Sirius and Remus didn't blame me for their deaths…it was brilliant. They…" He wiped tears from his eyes, looking over at George. "Sorry, I get a bit emotional thinking about them. It was like they were all together again watching over me and waiting for me whenever I join them. I kind of thought that F-fred would join them, you know? He'd get along great with my parents and Sirius and Remus. I bet they would look after him."
Harry trailed off thinking he probably sounded pretty stupid, but he hoped he had made sense to his friend.
George looked at him, a small smile spreading across his face. "I kind of like that, Fred hanging out with the Marauders waiting for me. That does actually help a lot, mate. Thanks."
______________________________ ________________________________________ ___________
Harry followed the other Auror recruits into a classroom. After helping at Hogwarts for the past two days, Kingsley had asked them to come into the Ministry for the last two days of the week. Head Auror Dawlish was waiting for them.
"Come in, everyone. Take a seat, one person per table."
Harry took a seat at the small table in the centre, front row. Seamus and Susan were on either side of him while Terry Boot, Katie Bell, and Michael Corner sat at the tables in the back row.
Once they were all seated, Dawlish explained the plan for the next two days. "This is the first Auror trainee class we've had in over five years. All of you are operating on different levels and have different backgrounds. Over the next two days, we plan on testing you to see what areas on which we need to concentrate our instructions. We may recommend further instruction or even one-on-one tutoring for you in different areas."
He looked around the room at each of them. "The first portion of each day will be written testing while the second part of the day will be practical testing. Everyone take out your quills and put away everything else."
After they complied, each student received several scrolls of parchment and the exam. Harry looked down at the exam and breathed a bit easier. The first question was about Dementors and how to get rid of them. As the morning wore on, Harry noticed the different sections of the exam. Defence had been the easiest for him, but to his surprise the Transfiguration was fairly easy for him as well. He had the hardest time with the History section of the exam. He had never done well in history, but he tried his hardest.
He set his quill down just as Dawlish called time. To his surprise, he felt pretty good as he watched the scrolls of parchment fly up to the front of the room.
"Why don't the six of you head down to get something to eat?" Dawlish said as he collected the scrolls. "After lunch, we will meet in this room and testing will be conducted in the next room. Once you have completed your Defence and Transfiguration practicals you are free for the rest of the day. I know it is tempting to go home and revise, but I would ask that you don't do that. Understood?"
The six slightly shell shocked students headed down to the Ministry canteen for lunch. Harry looked over at Seamus who looked just as dazed as he did, he smiled. "Not what I expected."
"Me neither, mate." Seamus replied. "Still I think I did pretty well."
"Except for the history part," Harry groaned. "I've never been good at history."
"Aye, that's true," Seamus said. "With Binns teaching, it was really nothing more than a time to nap."
"Did I tell you about Ginny?" Harry asked. "She had a meeting with McGonagall."
Over a lunch of burgers and chips, Harry told Seamus about Ginny's meeting with McGonagall.
"That does not surprise me," Seamus said. "Ginny has always been a ball of fire. Last year she was incredible, she looked after everyone. Me dad would have loved to visit Hogwarts, he was always curious about it from me and my mam's descriptions. I think that will really help with the Muggleborn families."
"I hope so," Harry said as he finished off his chips. "Ginny has really put a lot of thought and effort into her plans for next year."
Seamus nodded, "Is Ron getting better?"
"Yeah, it's been slow, but at least he's stopped going on about how Hermione earned the Head Girl spot." Harry said shaking his head. "Don't get me wrong, if we'd gone to school last year like normal I would have said Hermione for sure, but we didn't. Ginny has so many really good ideas, I think she's really earned it."
"I agree," Seamus said. "Ginny really came into her own as a leader last year. She's smart and compassionate and I think the younger students really respond well to her. Nothing against Hermione, but for as smart as she is, she isn't really good at helping others. She tends to get upset if you don't understand what she's said, but Ginny can explain things in a different way that makes sense."
Harry agreed, "Hermione does tend to expect us to understand things as well as she does."
Glancing at his watch, Harry said a bit louder, "We need to head back upstairs."
The afternoon was a blur to Harry. He felt he did well on both of his practical exams. He was especially proud of his Defence practical where he dueled and defeated Dawlish. The next day was much the same with written exams in the morning on Potions, Charms, and Herbology and practical exams in the afternoon. By Friday afternoon, Harry was worn out.
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He arrived at the Burrow in the late afternoon to find Ginny in the kitchen. She was chopping vegetables.
"Hello, love." Harry said as he leaned over and kissed her. Reading the upset look on her face, he quickly washed his hands and asked, "What can I do?"
Sniffing, Ginny said, "Do you know how to make bread?"
Nodding Harry began gathering the ingredients. As he mixed up of the dough, he told her about his exams.
"What potion did you have to make?" Ginny asked curiously.
"I had to make a Blood Replenishing Potion," Harry said. "I've never made it before, but I think I did okay. Madam Kelley is the Potions Master who has been working with us and she is a great teacher. She explains annoying things like why it makes a difference if you stir clockwise or anti-clockwise. I never really thought about how the ingredients interact with each other or not."
Looking over, he could see that Ginny was lost in her own thoughts. He finished kneading the bread and set it to rise. Walking over to his fiancée, he wrapped his arms around her.
"What's wrong, baby?"
Ginny leaned back against him. "I am so tired of being upset and I hate crying."
With a sigh, Ginny turned around in his arms and buried her face in his chest. "Mum was down here earlier and we were talking about Quidditch. I made the mistake of telling her that George gave me Fred's broom to use for next year. I was pretty excited because it's a nice broom and neither George nor I broke down when he gave it to me. He said that he thought Fred would want me to have it and he would have been so proud of me for being named Quidditch captain. It was really nice because we were talking about Fred in a positive way. Mum lost it, she started crying and just headed up to her room in the middle of making dinner and I don't even know if I'm doing it right and I'm going to ruin dinner."
Harry pulled her close and just ran his hand down her hair, "I think that's great that you and George were able to talk about Fred. I'll help with dinner, it won't be ruined."
She relaxed into his arms, just letting the beat of his heart lull her into a calmer state of mind. After a few minutes, she looked up and smiled at him. Reaching up, she kissed him. "Thank you."
Looking around the kitchen, he asked. "What else needs to be done?"
Stepping out of his arms, she said, "I'm not sure. I added the vegetables to the stew. I'm not sure what else to do."
He walked over to the large cauldron and stirred the stew. He tasted it and started added spices and seasoning before tasting it again. "I think now we just need to let it simmer for a while. The bread can go in the oven in maybe a half an hour."
Ginny smiled up at him, "So you are saying that we are basically alone in the house and we have nothing to do for at least thirty minutes?"
He didn't bother to respond verbally as he leaned down and kissed her. She laughed and pulled him up to her room. "Can you set the Silencing Charms?"
______________________________ ________________________________________ ____________________
Ginny woke a little while later in a panic, she hadn't really meant to fall asleep. Harry wasn't there, so she pulled her clothes back on and hurried downstairs. As she neared the kitchen she heard Harry and George talking. George was setting the table while Harry was cutting the bread.
Harry looked up and smiled at her as she walked in the kitchen. "Hi, beautiful."
She kissed him softly and whispered, "Why didn't you wake me?"
He shrugged, "You were tired." He smiled, "And you looked so peaceful I didn't want to wake you."
"If you're done mauling my sister, do you need anything else done?" George asked with a slight smile.
Harry laughed as he handed George a slice of bread, "You can test my bread."
"This is really good," George said slightly surprised.
Before Harry could reply, Ginny called out. "Dad's on his way."
Harry glanced over at the Weasley family clock. Fred's hand had fallen off after his funeral and Mrs. Weasley had actually tried to break the clock. Mr. Weasley had saved the clock and hidden it for a while. He had only rehung the clock a week earlier.
"Here come Ron and Percy, as well," Ginny said watching their hands. She looked over at the other two, "I'm going to get some flowers for the table."
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The next morning, Harry and Ginny returned from their run to find Ron already awake and in the kitchen. He was eating a large bowl of cereal.
"Morning, mate." Harry said as they entered the kitchen. "I'm surprised to find you up so early."
Ron shrugged, but the tips of his ears gave him away. "I'm a bit nervous about meeting Hermione's parents."
"I'm sure you'll be fine," Harry said as he got some water.
"I've never been to a Muggle house before," Ron said nervously. "I mean unless you count the few minutes I was in your aunt and uncle's house. What if I mess up? What if they don't like me?"
"I'm going to take a shower," Ginny said. She looked at her brother, "You'll be fine. They already know you're a wizard, they know you've never lived in a Muggle house. I'm sure they don't expect you to know everything."
An hour later, the three of them Flooed to Grimmauld Place. Kreacher hurried to greet them.
"Master Harry, I didn't expect you this morning."
"No, it's okay, Kreacher. We're just heading out to meet Hermione." He looked around the kitchen, "How's the redecorating coming?"
Kreacher drew himself up to his full height. "Would you like to see, Master?"
"Sure, we have a few minutes." Harry replied easily.
The three friends followed Kreacher up the stairs to the ground floor. The change was dramatic. Kreacher had removed the portrait of Mrs. Black and had replaced it with a picture of Harry and Sirius laughing together. It had been taken during the Christmas that they had spent together here at Grimmauld Place. Harry gasped.
"Did Kreacher do the wrong thing, Master?"
Harry shook his head, "No, Kreacher. That is perfect."
Ginny reached over and squeezed his hand, knowing that Harry still got emotional thinking about his godfather. "Thank you, Kreacher. Where did you get the picture?"
Turning to face her for the first time, Kreacher's eyes widened and he gasped. "Kreacher is sorry, Mistress. I did not greet you properly."
Ginny glanced over at Harry and he shrugged, house elves still confused him. "That's okay, Kreacher. I just wanted to know where you got the picture of Harry and Sirius."
By this time, Ron had started walking down the front hall looking at the other portraits that had been hung.
"Master Sirius had this picture in his room, Mistress. I thought the new Master would like the picture." Kreacher explained anxiously looking between the two of them.
"It's great," Harry said. He glanced at Ron who was at the far end of the hall. "Why are you calling Ginny, Mistress?"
"Because you have chosen her as your mate," Kreacher replied eyeing his master in confusion.
Harry smiled, "Can you keep that information to yourself for a while? No one knows yet."
"Of course, Master. Kreacher is loyal to Master Harry. I will not give away your secrets."
"Thanks." Harry said. He turned to Ginny, "What do you think?"
"I think it looks great," Ginny said. "The hall is so clean and bright. I don't really like all of the snakes, though."
Harry agreed, "Can you replace the snakes? Maybe with lions or phoenixes or whatever makes sense."
Ron had rejoined them and the three of them headed out for King's Cross Station. The two Weasleys let Harry handle the purchase of tickets and docilely followed him to the appropriate track to wait for the train.
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Hermione pulled up to the station and parked her parents' Volvo. Getting her drivers' license had been one of her goals this summer and she found that she really enjoyed driving.
As she entered the station and looked around, she squealed as she saw Ron looking around. Running over to him, she threw her arms around him. He picked her up, swinging her around before he set her down and kissed her. Hermione found herself lost in his kiss. She had missed him so much.
They broke apart a few minutes later and found Harry and Ginny standing a short distance away. Hermione blushed a bit; she had never really been one for public displays of affection.
She hugged the other two and gasped when she got a good look at Harry.
"Harry, oh my goodness." Hermione pulled back and looked at him. He looked so different to her. He had obviously filled out a bit and she could tell he'd been working out from the fit of his white t-shirt. The biggest surprise for her was the gold earring he was wearing.
She reached up to touch his earring, "When did you get this done?"
Harry laughed easily, "Last weekend actually. Fleur did it for me. It's my father's wedding band."
"Wow," she shook her head. "I never really pictured you with an earring before."
Ginny laughed, "I think it looks sexy."
Ron rolled his eyes while Hermione looked at her in a bit of confusion. She noticed the earring that Ginny was wearing as well. Reaching over she pushed Ginny's hair back a bit, "You got your ears pierced, too? I thought your Mum didn't want you to get your ears pierced."
Ginny shrugged, "Well, my Mum hasn't even noticed. Fleur did mine as well."
Looking between the younger couple, Hermione asked, "Is that your Mum's wedding band?"
Harry nodded as he put his arm around his fiancée, "Yeah, doesn't it look great?"
Nodding, Hermione started leading them out to the car park. "So you've been spending time with Bill and Fleur?"
"We went on holiday with them last weekend," Ginny explained.
Hermione enjoyed the drive back to the house. She pointed out her parents' new office as they passed by.
"I never realized you lived so close to Cambridge," Harry remarked as Hermione drove them through a beautiful neighborhood with well-established homes.
"Yes, I love it here," Hermione replied. "We're only a short walk from the village, but it's just a short drive to Cambridge. My parents have lived here for years."
"I was sorry to hear about their practice," Ginny said.
Hermione shrugged, but it was still a bit of a sore topic with her. "It's actually worked out. Their old practice was on the far side of Cambridge. They managed to find this new location right here in the village."
"That's good," Harry said.
Conversation was cut short as Hermione pulled off the road in front of a beautiful two story, detached brick home. Hermione skillfully pulled the car into the two car garage and led the way into the house.
She reached out for Ron's hand as she noticed Harry and Ginny walking hand-in-hand. Looking over she smiled, glad to see him after so long away. To her dismay, she noticed signs that he was very nervous and something else she couldn't quite identify. Instantly she was glad that Harry and Ginny were there, she hoped they would help keep Ron calm.
They entered the house and Hermione could smell her mother's leg of lamb roasting in the oven. The scent of the rhubarb tart her mother had made earlier combined with the lamb was mouth wateringly delicious. This was the first time she'd ever really had friends over for a meal and she was thrilled to be able to share her mother's cooking.
"Dad," Hermione smiled as her father stepped out of the kitchen to greet their guests.
Ron smiled tentatively at Hermione's father. He was tall, slender gentleman with silver hair and brown eyes. To Ron's relief, he smiled back and held out his hand.
"Hi, Mr. Granger, I am Ron Weasley."
Hermione beamed up at him before turning to her father, "Dad, this is Ron's sister, Ginny and my friend, Harry Potter."
She noticed her father gave her an odd look before he greeted the other two. By this time, her mother had come out of the kitchen and Hermione repeated the introductions.
________________________ ________________________________________ _______________________
Jane Granger smiled at her daughter's friends. When Hermione was in primary school, she hadn't really made many friends, so Jane had been thrilled when Hermione had made such good friends at Hogwarts.
"Welcome to our home," Jane said with a smile. "I thought we could have some drinks out in the garden."
She led the way out to her pride and joy, the garden. They had a multi-level stone patio around a beautiful water feature. Jane had just gotten the garden back to where she wanted it and the fish had been in the pond for almost a fortnight.
"Merlin, Mrs. Granger, this is beautiful," Ginny said as they sat down at the new table and chairs that was arranged just outside the kitchen.
"Thank you, dear." Jane poured glasses of lemonade for everyone from the large pitcher on the table.
Harry looked around at the flowers arranged in the planters that lined the upper patio. Once the patio ended, there were several large trees that led the way to a beautiful view of unbroken countryside. He nudged Ginny and whispered, "Look at all the lavender they have growing over there."
She giggled, "I love the butterflies. It makes the garden look alive."
Jane smiled at the girl, glad to have someone appreciate her garden. Looking around, she noticed that Hermione had taken Ron over to the other side of the garden. Deciding she wanted to get to know Hermione's other friends, she said. "I was so sorry to hear about your brother. How are your parents doing?"
Ginny's smile faltered a bit, but she replied. "My father is doing as well as can be expected. He said that working to undo the damage the Death Eaters have done to our world is his way of honouring my brother. My mum isn't doing so well, she has good days and bad and you never know what is going to happen."
She looked over at Harry, "Harry has spent a lot of time talking to George and he's in a much better place than he was a few weeks ago."
Harry blushed slightly, "I think he is doing better. He was talking about heading into the shop this week. I think it would be really good for him."
"What are your plans for next year?" Jane asked as Hermione and Ron joined them.
"I'm heading back to Hogwarts," Ginny said. "I wasn't really sure, but I had a meeting with Professor McGonagall this past week and she really liked my ideas. You might be interested, we are planning to have a parents' weekend this fall."
"Really?" Jane and Hugh looked thrilled at the idea. Hermione was a bit more undecided.
"But my parents are Muggles," Hermione pointed out.
"I know," Ginny replied. "I've talked to Professor McGonagall and we are going to have the Hogwarts Express pick up the parents Saturday morning and bring them back Sunday night."
Jane frowned, "I thought it took all day for the train to get to Hogwarts."
Ginny laughed, "It does because that's how the school set it up. The train is a magical train, so the trip will take about an hour."
"That sounds wonderful," Hugh said. "I've always wanted to see Hogwarts."
He looked over at Ron, "Are you planning to return to Hogwarts next year?"
Ron flushed, "No, sir. I am going to be helping my brother get his shop back together."
"Ron," Hermione looked shocked at that revelation.
"I'm sorry, Hermione. I just can't go back. George really needs me," Ron said uncomfortably.
Hermione glared at him and he knew this wasn't the last he was going to hear about it. After a moment she glared over at Harry, "I suppose you aren't going back either?"
Harry calmly met her glare, "No, I'm not. I'm already working at the Ministry. Kingsley is letting us work part time this summer and in the autumn we will start full time. We spent the last two days in testing so they know where we are and what we will need to work on."
"I guess that makes sense," Hermione grudgingly admitted.
"You can't expect your friends to make all of the same decisions you have made, sweetie," Hugh said softly.
"I know," Hermione sighed. "I was just hoping that we would all have a nice peaceful year together."
"I was too," Ginny said, "but it will just be the two of us."
"We'll be in the same dorm," Hermione said, her eyes lighting up for the first time since the conversation began. "Parvati and Lavender won't be there."
"Nope," Ginny replied with a grin. "I think it will be you, me, Julia, Demelza, and Sarah."
"Oh, that will be nice," Hermione smiled. "I don't know Demelza as well, but Julia and Sarah are both really nice."
"Demelza's great," Ginny enthused, "I think you'll really like her."
Happy that his daughter seemed happier, Hugh turned back to Ron. "So what type of shop does your brother have?"
"He runs a joke shop," Ron explained. "They started with what they call Skiving Snackboxes, which are really brilliant sweets that can help you skive off classes. They have Fever Fudge and Fainting Fancies, for example. This last year they've really added a lot of defence items as well, such as shield hats and Peruvian Darkness Powder. They are really brilliant and have made loads of money from their shop. George was telling me last night about some new ideas he has. I'm actually really looking forward to working with him."
"That sounds wonderful," Jane said. "Is the shop on Diagon Alley?"
"Yes, ma'am." Ron replied a bit bashfully. "It's a great spot and George and I have talked about moving into the flat above the shop. George still isn't sure about going back there; he lived there with F-fred."
Jane nodded sympathetically. Harry piped up, "The two of you can always move into Grimmauld Place, mate. Right now it's only going to be me and Seamus in the place. I mean, you saw how Kreacher is working on cleaning it up."
Ron shrugged, "I'll talk to George and see what he thinks."
______________________________ ________________________________________ ____________
The meal went well. Ron tried his hardest to watch his table manners, but he really wasn't certain if he managed. Hermione glared at him a few times and shook her head when he would have had another helping of lamb, but overall he thought he did well.
After eating, he and Hermione strolled around the garden talking. He knew she wasn't happy about him not going back to Hogwarts, but to his delight she wasn't harping on it.
"Hermione, I'm sorry I didn't say anything to you about not going back to Hogwarts. I thought about it, but…really I think that George needs my help." Ron said softly.
She sighed, "I know and I think it's wonderful that you want to help him." She smiled up at him. "I just worry about you not finishing school. You will come visit me, won't you?"
"Of course," Ron blushed. "I can finally take you to Hogsmeade."
Hermione looked across the garden where Harry and Ginny were talking to her father about the pond. "I didn't realize that Ginny had any meetings with Professor McGonagall."
Ron nodded, "Yeah, when she went to take her sixth year exams. She had all kinds of ideas that she talked to McGonagall about. I'm sure she will talk to you about it. I mean, you have been a prefect for two years and she's never been one. She'll need your help."
"I hope so," Hermione said sadly. "It seems like she doesn't need me for anything."
"That's not true," Ron said stoutly. "She'll need your help."
Hermione nodded, "What's up with the earrings?"
"I don't know," Ron admitted. "I asked Harry and he told me it was his father's wedding band, but I didn't know about Ginny. She's been wearing her hair down so I never saw it."
"It's really sweet," Hermione said. "But what happens when they break up? Is he going to ask for the earring back? That doesn't seem very well thought out."
Ron shrugged again, "They are together all of the time. I don't know what they are going to do spending the whole next year apart."
She smiled up at him, "I'm glad we've been friends for so long, I think that really helps our relationship."
Looking up at him, she asked, "Would you be interesting in going to the cinema with me next weekend?"
"You remember when Harry and I were talking about movies we've seen?"
Ron nodded a bit uncertainly, he vaguely recalled the conversation. He shrugged; he'd ask Harry what it was all about once they were home. "That sounds like fun."
To Ron's delight, Hermione gave him a private tour of the house that included a bit of snogging time. She told him all about the discussion she and her parents had and their new understanding. He had a bit of a hard time understanding what the big deal was, but he knew enough not to say that to Hermione.
Although he was still a bit leery around all of the electrical things in the house, he didn't think he'd made a fool out of himself. He was a bit nervous around Mr. Granger and he really couldn't help but compare their house to his parents' house. He really didn't feel he belonged in such an elegant house and it did bother him. He could only hope that he would be able to make good money working with George.
It was late in the afternoon by the time Harry, Ginny, and Ron were on the train headed back to London. Ron was in his own little world, giving Harry and Ginny time together.
"Did you have fun?" Harry asked.
Ginny shrugged. "I liked Hermione's parents and I can't wait to tell Dad all about their house. Hermione just seemed…I don't know, a bit off today. Did you notice she introduced me as Ron's sister? Is that all I am to her?"
"I don't know, baby. I mean, I know she thinks of you as a friend. Maybe she was nervous or something." Harry said as he leaned in a kissed her lightly.
"Do you have to do that in front of me?" Ron grumbled.
"Don't look," Harry and Ginny said in unison.
Harry smiled at Ginny before he turned to Ron, "I think it went pretty well today. Hermione's parents seemed to like you."
Ron beamed, "I think so. I was really nervous." He looked over at his sister, "You're lucky his parents are dead. You don't have to impress anyone."
"What?" Ginny hissed at him grabbing his arm. "You are so lucky we are surrounded by Muggles right now. How can you say that?"
"What?" Ron looked at his sister like she was crazy.
"I should be glad Harry's parents are dead?" Ginny chanced a glance over at her boyfriend and she could see he had shut down. "I would have loved to have had the chance to meet Harry's parents."
"Well, I didn't mean it like that," Ron said. "It's just…" He looked at his sister and realized he was never going to dig himself out of the hole he'd made. "Harry, I'm sorry, mate. I didn't mean anything by that. You know that, right?"
To Ron's dismay, Harry didn't immediately say it was okay. Harry pulled Ginny a bit closer so she was almost on his lap. He looked up at Ron, "Why don't you go wander around? We're getting off at Kings' Cross Station."
Ron got up and wandered down the train. Looking back he could see his sister was talking to Harry and to Ron's disgust she kept kissing him, but by the time they arrived at Kings' Cross Harry seemed like he was in a better mood.
After they got off the train, Harry looked over at his best mate. "I really wish you wouldn't say things like that."
Harry nodded. "I'm going to Apparate Ginny back to the Burrow."
"I'll follow," Ron replied.
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They entered the Burrow to find Arthur putting the finishing touches on several large stacks of sandwiches.
"Hello, kids. How was the visit?"
"It was great, Dad." Ron said.
Percy and George joined them for a light dinner. Harry and Ginny didn't eat much, but Ron was up to his usual standards. Arthur was delighted to hear all about the Grangers' home and all of the Muggle technology his children had seen. He bombarded them with questions that Ginny seemed happy to answer. After everyone was finished, Arthur turned to Ginny.
"Love, would you mind taking a plate up to your mother?"
"Of course, Dad."
Ginny fixed a plate and carried it upstairs. She knocked on her parents' door, but she didn't receive an answer. That wasn't entirely unusual these days.
"I'm coming in, Mum. I have some sandwiches." Ginny called as she entered the room. She sighed at the darkness within the room. "Mum, I'm lighting some of the candles."
Ginny set the plate down and turned to her mother. Her mouth opened in horror. He mother lay slumped back on the bed, her head at an odd angle. A trail of vomit lay across the bed. Ginny reached to shake her mother, but Ginny froze when she noticed how shallow her mother's breaths were. When she couldn't wake her mother, she looked around the bed. To her horror, she saw an empty bottle of Calming Draught roll off the bed. Ginny knew the bottle had been full last night.
Looking back at her mother, she screamed as loud as she could.
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