|SIYE Time:5:41 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: 84114; Chapter Total: 4779
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thanks so much to my wonderful beta StephanieO! The jam making portion is dedicated to my grandmother who loved to make jams and jellys. Tayberries are real they grow near Devon.
Arthur shifted in the rather uncomfortable chair at his wife's bedside. He stared at her unconscious form trying to figure out how he missed the warning signs. Had he really been ignoring her so badly? He'd known she was grieving, but he hadn't seen anything that had worried him. Had he been working too much? She had seemed like she was doing better lately. She'd come downstairs more and spent time with them. Certainly, she was nowhere near her normal personality, but he honestly thought she was getting better. More to give himself something to do than any real thirst, Arthur sipped his rather cool cup of tea.
It had been a long four hours since Ginny had found her mother unconscious in their bed. He silently gave thanks to his oldest son. Bill had taken charge of his brothers and sister and had persuaded them to stay calmly in the waiting room down the hall from their mother's room. He would have rather they had gone home, but he knew they were waiting for news of her condition. The Healers weren't certain if Molly had purposely taken an overdose of the Calming Draught or if she had simply forgotten when she'd taken a dose and had accidently taken an overdose. She had not yet regained consciousness to talk to anyone.
She was going to stay at St. Mungo's until they were certain she had no physical effects from the potion. After that, Arthur had agreed with the Healer that she needed some professional help to come to grips with the death of their son. He planned to have her admitted to the Summerbee Institute for Mind Healing. Summerbee's was located in Brighton and was one of the few wizarding institutes for Mind Healing. It was the only British institute for Mind Healing.
Molly started shivering again, so Arthur cast another Warming Charm on the blankets. A young, friendly medi-witch popped her head in the room. "Is everything alright, Mr. Weasley?"
"She's just started shivering again," Arthur explained.
The witch nodded, "That's rather common as the potion makes its way out of her system. Has the healer been in with the test results?"
He shook his head, "Not yet."
"I'll have Healer Bridgerton come in and talk to you," she said sympathetically.
A few moments later, Healer Bridgerton, a young and energetic healer entered the room. She looked over Molly, casting a few spells, before she turned to Arthur.
"Mr. Weasley, I have the results of the tests we conducted earlier. Your wife has taken nearly ten times the dose she should have taken. In addition to the Calming Draught, we also found traces of Sleeping Draught and some Draught of Peace. The combination of the three of these potions can be deadly. Whether she intended take such a large dose of the Calming Draught or not, she should have known not to combine the three doses. Have you thought about the options I talked about earlier?"
Arthur nodded, "I think a stay at Summerbee's will be very beneficial for my wife. Losing one of our children was always her worst fears…I don't know what to do for her anymore. Her brothers died in the last war and only the children managed to pull her through. Now that the children are older, I know she feels they don't need her as much. One of the few things she has told me is she feels lost. I never know what I'm going to come home to — she has always loved to cook and feed our family and she has only cooked once in the past three weeks. I've tried to help out, but a lot of the responsibility has fallen on our daughter and her boyfriend. I hate that they have to do so much after everything they've already done."
Healer Bridgerton nodded her eyes warm and compassionate. "I saw all of the red heads in the waiting room. They are all your children?"
Arthur nodded, "Yes, I'm waiting for my second oldest to arrive. He's in Romania now. My oldest son, Bill, and his wife are watching over the others. My poor daughter is the one who found her mother." He shook his head, "My poor baby girl."
"Have you considered counseling for you and your children?" the Healer asked. "It might help them to have someone impartial to talk to about everything that has happened. I understand that all of your children took part in the Battle of Hogwarts, is that correct?"
"Yes, all of us were there," Arthur said sadly.
Sensing he was rather overwhelmed, Healer Bridgerton said, "I am going to have to administer an emetic to help your wife throw up the potions. We have been trying to flush them through her system with the fluid we have been giving her, but she's not getting rid of them fast enough. I feel it would be too distressful for your children. Why don't you have them all come in and say good bye and we can get started on her treatment."
Arthur nodded with tears shining in his eyes. He hated the thought of what Molly was going to have to go through, but he knew the healer was right. He didn't want any of the children to see that.
He stood wearily and pulled Molly's blanket up around her. Dropping a kiss on the top of her head, he turned to head out to the waiting room.
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Bill woke slowly the next morning. As he cuddled up closer to his wife, he realized that the bed felt wrong. Slowly opening his eyes, he saw his room from childhood. The events of the previous evening came rushing back to him. An almost overwhelming urge to pull up the covers and hide in his room welled up in him, but with a sigh he pushed that urge aside.
The previous evening had been extremely grim. After saying goodbye to their parents, the children had returned to the Burrow. George and Percy had stayed up a while and talked to Bill and Fleur. Harry had taken Ginny up to bed almost immediately.
While Bill was worried about his sister, he knew she was in good hands. It was Ron who worried him the most. Ron and Bill had never been as close as Ron and Charlie, but Bill knew that Ron had been having trouble with everything that had happened in past few months. Lately, he had been spending more time with their father talking about things and he seemed better. Last night, however, Ron had seemed incredibly shocked.
Ron had always been very close to their mother. While he might complain about her fussing, he had always rather depended on her. The thought that the mother he had always counted on to be there was falling apart seemed to devastate him.
With a slight groan, Bill reluctantly got out of his warm bed to check on his siblings. He peered in Charlie's room; it was empty and clean, ready for Charlie's arrival.
Knocking softly on Ginny's door, he waited for a moment waiting for an answer. None was forthcoming, so Bill opened the door. His sister's room was empty. It was not totally surprising. Closing her door, he headed upstairs.
Percy and George were sharing Percy's room. They were both sleeping quietly. He knocked on the door of the twins' room. Pushing open the door, he saw Harry and Ginny sleeping. The scrape of the door opening caused Harry to open his eyes. Bill padded softly across the room.
"She okay?" Bill whispered.
"She didn't sleep very well," Harry replied softly as he tightened his arms around her. "Had quite a few nightmares."
Bill nodded, "Go back to sleep. I just wanted to check on everyone."
He hesitated before stopping in his parents' room. It was dark and empty, not the warm and cozy room he remembered from his childhood. He knew his father was at the hospital so he lit the wall sconces with a flick of his wand.
The bed was a mess. Another flick of the wand stripped the bed and banished the soiled linens to the laundry room. At the linen closet in the hall, he pulled out a clean set of sheets and remade the bed. On his mother's bedside table sat several bottles of potions. With a frown, Bill gathered the potions and poured them down the sink in the bathroom and banished the bottles to the rubbish bin outside.
Feeling a bit guilty, he rummaged through the room to ensure there were no more bottles of potions hidden anywhere in the room. To his relief, there were none. With a few waves of his wand, he tidied up the room and sent the remaining dirty laundry downstairs. He opened the windows, letting the fresh summer air flow into the room.
He left their room feeling a bit better. At least his father would have a clean room to come home to.
Heading up to the attic, he knocked softly on Ron's door. He smiled at the sound of snoring that reverberated through the room. Ron was sound asleep. Bill looked around the room, shaking his head. While he had certainly seen the room looking worse, there were piles of dirty clothes all over the room.
He banished the clothes down to the laundry room and tidied up a bit before leaving his brother sleeping. He maneuvered easily through the darkened house, automatically skipping the squeaky floorboards and jumping over the third step with an ease born of long practice. Lighting the kitchen fire, he started the laundry he'd gathered.
The Floo flared to life just as he sat down at the table with a cup of tea and some toast.
"Dad!" Bill hurried to hug his father. Guiding him to the table, he poured a cup of tea and brought a stack of toast to the table.
"How's Mum?" He asked after he watched his father prepare his tea.
Arthur sighed, "I never really want to see anything like that again in my life. She is much better now. She woke up, I mean really woke up a few hours ago." He rubbed his eyes, "She is so humiliated and embarrassed by this. The Healers believe that rather than intentionally overdosing, she simply took too much. She would take some Calming Draught not realizing she'd taken it only an hour before. It all caught up with her last night."
Bill blew out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Arthur put his hand on his son's arm as he leaned forward, resting both arms on the table.
"I know, son." Arthur said, regret evident in his voice. "I honestly thought she was doing better. She was up more this past week and she was a bit more cheerful. I can't believe I didn't see any signs of this. I mean, I knew she was using Calming Draught, but I thought it was only occasionally. I didn't know about the other potions."
"What can we do, Dad?"
Arthur smiled briefly, "Just what you are doing, Bill. Look after the younger kids." His smiled faded. "I sent an owl to the Minister and explained the situation. I asked for some time off which he readily granted. Tomorrow she'll be transferred to Summerbee's for further treatment of depression. The Healer has suggested all of us attend counseling and I think it is an excellent idea. Obviously pretending nothing is wrong is not working for us."
Bill nodded, "I think that's a good idea. I've been talking to Fleur and I know Ginny and George have been talking to Harry, but I think having someone impartial to talk to might help."
Finishing his tea, Arthur stood up. "I'm going to get some sleep before heading back to the hospital this afternoon."
Hugging his son, he headed up the stairs.
The next time Harry awoke, he could hear the comforting sound of rain hitting the roof. Opening his eyes, he noted it was dark and cozy inside the room. He turned and looked over at his fiancée.
She was still sleeping and was turned to face him. Her hair was fanned over the pillow, a picture that Harry found entrancing. She was wearing one of his old Quidditch jerseys. He really liked how his name looked on her. Leaning forward, he brushed a kiss across her forehead. To his delight, she smiled.
He wasn't sure how long he stayed in the dark cocoon created by the dark room and rain just watching his love sleep. It was some time later that her eyes fluttered open. She smiled at finding him lying next to her.
Reaching out her hand, she cupped her hand around his cheek. "Good morning, love."
He couldn't help himself; he leaned over and kissed her softly. It quickly turned much more passionate. Ginny sat up and grabbed her wand off of the nightstand. She cast a Silencing and Locking Charm on the door and looking over her shoulder at Harry, she smiled before stripping off her shirt.
With a smile, he stripped off his pajamas before rejoining her under the covers. He took his time exploring and worshiping her body before making them one.
As their breathing slowed down, Ginny pulled him down so his weight rested on her. She slipped her arms around him.
"I'm going to squish you, love." Harry said in protest.
"No you're not," She replied. "It just feels good."
He laughed and leaned down to kiss her. "I love you."
"I love you, too." Ginny sighed as she looked towards the window. "It looks awful out. Do you think anyone would notice if we just stayed in here all day?"
"I think so, baby."
Squeezing him tight for a moment, Ginny pushed gently against him and he rolled off of her. "Have you heard anything?"
Harry shook his head, "Bill came and checked on us this morning. I fell back to sleep after that."
"I guess we should go downstairs." Ginny said reluctantly. She slid out of bed and looking around the room, grabbed Harry's dressing gown. "I'm going to take a quick shower. I don't know if it's just sitting around hospital or not, but I need a shower."
"Go ahead, love. I'll head downstairs and see what I can find out."
She leaned over and kissed him before heading out of the room.
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Ron lay in his dark room and listened to the rain pounding down on the roof, even the bright orange of his walls couldn't lighten his mood any. He knew he should probably get up, it was almost noon, but he really didn't want to face anyone.
The events of yesterday had left him stunned, hurt, and angry. When Ginny had screamed from their parents' room, all of them had jumped up and raced to see what was wrong. Seeing his mother looking like she was dead was horrible. He'd never thought about his mother dying. When they realized it was a potions' overdose, Ron was angry. He knew his mother was upset about Fred, but what about him? Wasn't he enough of a reason to keep going? Why hadn't she thought about her six other children?
It probably didn't make any sense, but Ron had never thought of any of his family dying or even being seriously injured during the war. He had assumed that he was the one at the most risk and Harry would end it before it got too dangerous. In his mind, he and Hermione would accompany Harry while he destroyed the Horcruxes and they would watch his back while he killed You-Know-Who and go home being rewarded as heroes. He and Hermione would be together and it would just be brilliant.
Looking back, Ron realized how naive he had been. While Harry had destroyed You-Know-Who, the cost of that victory was almost unimaginable. Hermione had been tortured and Fred, Remus, Tonks, and many others had been killed. Ron had just never imagined that one of his family members would actually die.
Now everything was messed up and he couldn't imagine what it would take to put everything back together. He wished with all of his heart that Hermione was here. Somehow, Hermione always made him feel better. She could always help him sort out his feelings. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. He was a bit upset that her parents wouldn't let her come and stay at the Burrow, but he could understand that they missed her and wanted to spend time with her.
Turning his thoughts away from Hermione, his mother popped up in his thoughts again. He'd known his mother wasn't quite right, but he figured that she would snap out of it soon. Could he have done something to prevent this? He knew he could have done more about the house and helped out like Harry and Ginny were doing, but he hadn't — he'd let his mum fuss and do his laundry. There was an irrational part of him that wondered if maybe this was his fault.
Rationally he knew it wasn't, but a small part of him wondered if maybe this was a punishment for his insensitive comment about Harry's parents. He really hadn't meant it the way Harry and Ginny had taken it. Now he realized how it sounded, he had just been thinking about how nervous he'd been going to the Grangers' house and Ginny would never have to do that.
Ron rolled over and punched his pillow underneath him, but no matter what he did he couldn't stop his thoughts from racing around his head. For once, he wasn't really that hungry and he didn't want to face the rest of his family. He did want to find out about his mother, but only if it was good news.
He heard the sound of footsteps on the landing outside of his door. There was a short knock on the door and the door opened. He broke into a smile when he saw his brother, Charlie. He sat up and pushed his blankets aside as Charlie entered his room and dropped his bag next to the camp bed Harry always used to use.
Wrapping his arms around his youngest brother, Charlie embraced him. When they separated, Charlie tactfully looked away as Ron wiped his eyes.
"I'm going to be bunking up here with you," Charlie said as he walked over to the window.
"Okay," Ron said slowly. He was glad to see his brother, but he had to ask. "Not that I'm not glad you're up here, but what about your room?"
Charlie smiled, "We are apparently having guests who will be using my room."
Ron groaned, "Please tell me that Aunt Muriel isn't coming to stay or- oh Merlin, not Uncle Gary."
"No, I think you will like these guests a lot more," Charlie smirked. "Bill went over to the Grangers."
It felt like a huge weight was lifted off of him. Hermione was coming. "Wait, if Hermione's coming why isn't she sleeping in Ginny's room?"
"She is," Charlie explained. "Bill sent a message that her mother was coming as well. I think she didn't think there was enough adult supervision here, so she is coming as well."
"Really?" Ron wasn't really sure how he felt about that. "When will they be here?"
Charlie shrugged, "Bill said they'd be here around tea time."
"What time is it now?"
"Just gone on noon," Charlie said. "Mrs. Granger wants to drive so she'll have some transportation while she's here."
He smiled at his confused little brother, "Come on, let's get some food. Ginny was making some bacon and eggs."
"Okay," Ron smiled for the first time that day. Together the two brothers headed downstairs.
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Hermione was reading in the sitting room when she heard a knock at the door. Her mother was closer to the hall and went to answer the door. Assuming it was for her parents, Hermione returned to her book. She was surprised, therefore, when her mother entered the sitting room followed by Bill Weasley.
"Bill! What are you doing here? Is everyone okay? Is Ron okay?"
He smiled as he sat down in the chair her mother indicated. "Ron is fine, but something did happen." He quickly outlined the events of the previous evening to Hermione and her parents. "I came to see if you could come stay at the Burrow for a few days. I think it would really help Ron, especially. He's very lost and confused by all of this."
As Hermione tried to process this, she turned to her parents who appeared to be having a silent conversation. She really hoped her parents would let her go. What on Earth could have happened? How could she help her friends? She wasn't certain what she should do and that made her a bit unsettled. One thing she really disliked was being uncertain.
While Hermione was mulling over everything, her mother turned to Bill.
"Who will be there with them?"
"My wife and I are staying there at night and my brother Charlie just arrived." Bill explained. "Obviously my father will be spending a lot of his time with my mother."
After glancing at her husband again, Jane asked. "Would I be allowed to stay with her? I agree she needs to be with her friends right now, but I'm not comfortable with the lack of adult supervision. No insult intended to you and your wife and brother, but you are all rather young and with the trauma…"
"Mum," Hermione whispered, her face heating up.
"No, its okay, Hermione. Actually Mrs. Granger, you would be more than welcome to stay at the Burrow with Hermione. I think it would make my father feel a lot better as well. He's worried about the lot of us."
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By seven in the evening, Jane found herself sitting down to dinner in the oddest house she'd ever seen in her life. It was six or seven stories tall, she wasn't exactly certain as the house was oddly stacked. She had almost screamed when the mirror in the small loo spoke to her. Ginny had told her that this mirror wasn't nearly as opinionated at the mirror in the main bathroom on the third floor.
While she had known the Weasleys for many years, the only two she had ever spent any amount of time with were Ron and Ginny. She had now been introduced to the rest of the Weasley brothers and Bill's breathtakingly beautiful wife, Fleur.
She and Hermione had arrived shortly before Mr. Weasley returned home from St. Mungo's. While Hermione had stayed in the front garden with Ron, Jane had kept Harry and Ginny company in the kitchen. She had watched in amazement as Harry used a combination of magic and non-magical means to prepare dinner.
As they sat down at the table, Ron looked suspiciously at the bowls of food being sent down the table. "What is this?"
"Chicken curry and rice," Harry replied.
Ron scooped a huge pile of food onto his plate, but still poked at it in confusion. "What's in it?"
"Chicken, spices, yogurt, raisins, and some apricots," Harry said as he served himself and passed the bowl onto Ginny.
"This is amazing," Hermione said after she tasted the meal.
Harry blushed, "Thank you."
"Wait, if you can cook like this, why was I the one trying to transform mushrooms into something edible?" Hermione demanded.
He shrugged a bit uncomfortably, "I can cook, but I can't magically improve mushrooms and berries."
Jane enjoyed the dinner and enjoyed the company of the Weasleys. Arthur was obviously concerned for his wife, but he was excellent company and a very pleasant man. Fleur, she found to be rather exotic, but friendly. Bill's scars had taken her by surprise at first, but he was still a remarkably good looking man. Charlie was a bit rowdy, but nice. George and Percy were both rather quiet and Jane was charmed to see how well Percy was looking after his younger brother.
She could see how Hermione was so taken with this nice and down to earth family. Ginny was very supportive of both her father and her boyfriend. The young couple was very sweet together; subtly flirting and fussing over each other. Jane smiled when Ginny sneaked another helping of food onto Harry's plate. She was fairly certain Harry knew what she was doing, but he let her fuss nonetheless.
Hermione and Ron were much less demonstrative than the younger couple. After his initial hesitance, Ron had dug into his meal with gusto. He listened as Hermione spoke, but didn't really respond much.
Once everyone had finished eating, Jane was amazed to watch Bill and Charlie magically send the dishes to the sink. As she watched, they started washing themselves. Arthur was watching her expression, "It's got to be very different for you."
She nodded, "It is, I find your house very fascinating."
"Thank you," he replied with a weary smile. He looked around the table at his children. "I've spoken at length to both your mother and her healers. As I told Bill this morning, they think this was an accidental overdose, however due to your mother's depression she will be treated at Summerbee's for some period of time. Tuesday afternoon, we have arranged for a family therapy session that I would like all of you to attend."
He locked eyes with all of his children and one by one they nodded. Once he was satisfied, he continued, "Bill and I have gotten rid of all of the Calming Draught and Draught of Peace in the house. The remaining vials of Sleeping Potion have been locked up. If you feel you need a dose, please let me know and I will get one for you."
He gestured to Jane, "Mrs. Granger has graciously agreed to stay with us for a few days; I expect all of you to be helpful and explain things she does not understand. She is not here to cook and clean for you, so please don't expect it." He glanced over at his daughter, "Without your mother here, I expect that at least one of you will be home at all times. Ginny is underage and legally not allowed to perform magic," Recognizing that Ginny was about to protest, he quickly said, "Please let me finish. You all know this family has in the past been a target of Death Eaters and I am concerned that they may take advantage of our current situation."
"I can fight, Dad," Ginny said a bit sulkily.
"Of course you can, Gin," Harry spoke up. "But you know as well as I do that it's easy to be caught off guard." He squeezed her hand under the table, and she reluctantly nodded. While she hated being treated like a baby, she remembered all too well the feeling of being surrounded by Zabini and his pals.
At Ginny's nod, Arthur relaxed slightly. "Bill has strengthened the wards and I don't believe we will have any problems."
He handed both Jane and Ginny a small gold bangle type bracelet. "These are Portkeys. That means that if you are in a position where you believe you are in danger, just press that button and you will immediately be sent to the Ministry of Magic. You will land in the Atrium and both Kingsley and I will be notified you have arrived."
"Thank you," Jane said sincerely.
Arthur looked at Jane, "I truly believe that these arrangements will be unnecessary, but I would rather be safe than sorry."
"Constant vigilance!" Harry said with a hint of laughter in his voice.
"Quite so," Arthur said with a smile.
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Harry could see the Burrow looming up ahead and sped up his pace a bit. Looking over he could see Ginny was a bit behind him, but not too far. They had decided to run their usual circuit and then run down the lane to the road. He reached the front yard and ran around to the back garden.
He was already doing sit-ups when Ginny jogged her way into the garden and dropped onto the wall edging the lower garden. She watched him as he completed his sit-ups and push-ups before they headed into the house together.
"Good morning," Mrs. Granger smiled as the two of them entered the house. "I didn't realize anyone was already up."
"We try to go running most mornings," Harry explained as he grabbed a pitcher of apple juice from the cold cupboard. He poured a glass for both him and Ginny.
"Thanks, love," She said gratefully. She looked at Mrs. Granger, "He's been doing this for several months, but I've just started so I'm not quite up to his level."
"I used to walk quite a bit," Mrs. Granger said, "but I've never really been into running."
"I like it," Harry said. "It's a good time for me to let my mind wander. It's not as great as flying of course, but it's still fun."
Ginny laughed, "Harry, there aren't many things that you think are more fun than flying."
She had gotten up to get some cereal out of the cupboard and was glad her back was to the others as colour flooded her face. She could think of one activity Harry thought was more fun than flying, but she certainly wasn't going to say that in front of Mrs. Granger.
The two busied themselves with getting breakfast. Mrs. Granger had some toast while the other two had cereal.
"Do you know what everyone's plans are for today?" Mrs. Granger asked. "I know your father and Bill and Fleur have already headed into work."
"I need to head into the Ministry for a while," Harry replied.
"Percy and George might be going to George's shop today," Ginny said. "I'm not sure. I was thinking that it would be a good day to pick some berries, my Mum and I usually make jam around this time of year and…" She paused for a minute, a bit overcome by emotion. Harry reached across the table for her hand which she took, grateful for his comfort. "I think we need to get back into some of our normal routines."
"I think that's a lovely idea," Mrs. Granger said softly. "I would love to help, I used to make jam with my grandmother."
Ginny sniffed a bit, but smiled, "That sounds like fun."
"What sounds like fun?" Hermione asked as she entered the kitchen.
Ginny quickly repeated her idea for the day. Hermione nodded as she helped herself to some cereal, "That does sound like fun."
While the three women discussed their plans for the day, Harry head up to shower and get ready for the day. As he left his room, he ran into Charlie who was on his way downstairs.
"Good morning," Harry said. "Will you be here today? I need to head into work and I think George and Percy are going to Diagon Alley."
"I'll be here," Charlie confirmed.
Continuing downstairs, Harry said goodbye to the others and Ginny walked him out to the Apparition point.
"Have fun today," Harry said as he smiled down at her. She laughed, "I'll have fun. I'm not sure you will."
"Probably not," Harry said. "Wish me luck."
"Good luck," Ginny said. "You look very handsome and I'm sure you will do well."
Leaning down, he kissed her deeply. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
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Once Ginny watched him leave, she headed back inside. By the time she arrived back in the kitchen, Charlie had already pulled out some pans and had eggs and bacon frying on the stove.
"I didn't know you could cook," she remarked with surprise.
He laughed, "I'm not anything on Mum, but I can get by, especially this kind of food. Nothing like the food I hear your boyfriend's been putting out. That chicken curry last night was amazing."
Ginny beamed with pride in her fiancé. "He is good, his awful aunt saw to that."
"What do you mean?" Mrs. Granger asked in concern.
The younger girl shrugged, "His aunt would always make him cook and clean and do all sorts of horrid chores. He told me once that he would be punished if it wasn't cooked correctly."
"That's awful," Hermione said. "He never told me that."
Ginny chose not to comment, "I'm going to take a shower. Once everyone is ready we can head out."
"You going to make me some raspberry tarts, little sister?" Charlie teased as he sat down at the table.
She laughed, "You never know, big brother, I just might."
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As Harry entered the area set aside for Auror trainees, Gawain Robards hailed him. "Potter, glad you're here." He looked Harry over, "You'll do. The Ministry wants you down in the courtroom today."
"Today?" Harry blanched.
"I know, sorry for the short notice. The Wizengamot wanted to speed things up."
"Do you know whose trials will be today?"
Robards shook his head, "No."
With a sigh, Harry turned and headed to the courtrooms. He would have liked a bit more notice, but on the other hand at least he was getting it over with. Waiting by the elevators, he could see his reflection in the shiny metal. He was glad that Ginny had helped him picked out some new clothes; he would have hated to testify before the Wizengamot in Dudley's old rags.
One of the Minister's secretaries Rick Wooten was waiting for him outside the courtroom. He looked very frazzled and was pacing in the corridor anxiously.
"Mr. Potter, very good. The Wizengamot has decided to hear your general testimony first. They will first ask you about the events in the graveyard at Little Hangleton, then the events at the Department of Mysteries, the Battle at the Tower, and the Battle of Hogwarts. They may then ask you questions about specific Death Eaters based on what you have seen and what you may have gleaned from your connection to V-voldemort."
Harry bit back a smile as Mr. Wooten's voice lost all of its authority on the last word. At least he said the name, since that was more than many people tried to do. Nodding his understanding, Harry followed the man into the courtroom.
To his relief, it was much more welcoming than either of his two previous trips to the courtroom. There were no Dementors waiting to take away hapless Muggle-borns. Another change was the rows of chairs for the defendants in place of the single, rather sinister looking chair that had occupied the centre of the room previously. The rows of chairs were placed on the right hand side of the room, facing the rows of benches that rose in a semi-circle in the back of the room. On the left hand side of the room was a single chair; Harry realized that was for the witnesses to sit while they were testifying.
Kingsley Shacklebolt was already in place in the centre of the first row of benches. Rick Wooten took his spot at the end of the row and Harry imagined that Rick would transcribe the events rather as Percy had at his trial. The benches were filled. From conversations with the Minster, Harry knew the top benches were reserved for the public and victims' family members. There were two rows packed with the press. To his dismay, Harry saw Rita Skeeter already nudging her photographer to take pictures of him.
The members of the Wizengamot were resplendent in their dark plum robes. To Harry's surprise, he recognized quite a few members. Amos Diggory, Augusta Longbottom, Griselda Marchbanks, and Tiberius Ogden all had a seat on the Wizengamot. In the past two months, several new members had been appointed to the high court including Andromeda Tonks and Minerva McGonagall, both of whom smiled in greeting.
Harry turned to see Kingsley gesturing for him. Harry approached the bench and Kingsley leaned over to whisper, "Sorry for the lack of notice. I knew you were busy over the weekend and I didn't want to add more stress."
Harry shrugged, "It's okay, less time for me to worry about it."
Kingsley smiled, "Excellent. Take a seat at the end of the bench; we will be getting started in just a few moments."
Looking at the end of bench Harry was happy to see Neville and Seamus already sitting there. Just after Harry took his seat, the doors closed and a door on the other side of the chamber opened. The Aurors in their black robes surrounded the defendants. Harry caught sight of his fellow Auror trainees in the group. The accused Death Eaters were guided to a seat where they were all chained. Auror Dawlish cast a charm that Harry recognized as a containment charm as well as a magical suppression charm. Thankfully, Kingsley had banned the use of Dementors so now Aurors accompanied the accused into the Ministry.
Kingsley stood, "This hearing is taking place to investigate the offenses of the so called Death Eaters, followers of Tom Riddle, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort. The accused Death Eaters are: Roger Avery, Alecto Carrow, Amycus Carrow, Vincent Crabbe, Sr., Rodolphus Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, Edward Nott, Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson, Paul Parkinson, Albert Runcorn, Charles Selwyn, Pius Thicknesse, Herbert Yaxley, and Blaise Zabini. Being tried in absentia are: Anton Dolohov and Fenrir Greyback. Being tried posthumously are: Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and Severus Snape. There may be more charges forthcoming based on the information gathered during this hearing. Separate trials may be indicated for some defendants."
Harry tried not to become angry when his godfather was mentioned in the same breath as all of the other Death Eaters, but he still thought it was unfair. Kingsley had explained to him that it was the best way to clear both Sirius and Snape.
Kingsley continued, "Interrogators: Kingsley Levon Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic; Gawain Brice Robards, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Hestia Louise Jones, Undersecretary to the Minister; Richard Oliver Wooten, Court Scribe."
Once the formalities were out of the way, Kingsley called Harry to the stand. "You are Harry James Potter of Number 12 Grimmauld Place, London, correct?"
"Yes sir," Harry replied.
"Can you please tell the ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot about your connection to Tom Riddle?"
Taking a deep breath, Harry explained. "Tom Riddle killed my parents and tried to kill me when I was a baby."
"You refer to the events of 31 October, 1981?" Kingsley interjected.
"Yes, sir. When Riddle tried to kill me, something went wrong and the Killing Curse rebounded upon him, separating him from his body. Because of the precautions he had taken, Riddle was not actually killed at that time. Somehow when I was hit with the Killing Curse, a connection to Riddle was established. I would get headaches and I could feel his emotions. When he felt things very strongly I would see things through his eyes."
Harry could feel the eyes of everyone in the room upon him. It was rather disconcerting, but over the next three hours, he slowly told his story. Kingsley, Robards, and Hestia were all very gentle in their questioning. To Harry's relief, they broke for lunch just after discussing the events at the Ministry of Magic in September.
Neville, Seamus, and the other Auror trainees formed a ring around Harry as they headed out of the courtroom.
"This way," Rick called and he led the teens out of the courtroom and toward the elevators. Harry was hardly aware of the trip to level one. Rick led them to a conference room that had been set up with lunch.
Looking over at Harry, Rick said, "The Minister wanted you to have a place to unwind and relax before the afternoon session."
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Amidst much laughter and teasing, Ginny, Hermione, Mrs. Granger, and Charlie headed out to pick berries.
"What sort of berries grow around here?" Mrs. Granger asked as they set out to the orchard where they usually played Quidditch.
"There are all kinds," Ginny replied. "We usually pick blackberries, raspberries, tayberries, and some currants."
Ginny led the way across the paddock and through a small grove of trees. Once they were on the other side of the trees, it opened up to large field with a creek running through it. Lining the banks of the creek on both sides were berry bushes.
"This is beautiful," Hermione remarked. "How is it I've never seen this?"
Ginny shrugged, "I don't know. Ron doesn't come out here much. He got stung by bees when he was little and another time he was chased by pixies, so now he doesn't like coming out here."
"Pixies?" Mrs. Granger asked cautiously. She had been introduced to the garden gnomes and the ghoul in the attic.
"Pixies are little bright blue flying creatures, kind of like fairies," Charlie explained. "They are rather rude, but they won't hurt you."
"The magical world is truly amazing," Mrs. Granger said. "I can't wait to see Hogwarts."
"You'll also get to see Hogsmeade," Ginny commented. "It's the only all-wizarding village in Britain. I think you'll really like it."
"That's a really good idea," Hermione said. "What do you have planned for that weekend?"
Ginny glanced over at her friend as she started pulling berries off the bushes; she wasn't entirely certain that Hermione was sincere, but she answered anyway. "I wanted to talk about it at the first prefects' meeting. I think we can have each child meet up with their parents and show them around Hogsmeade. We can have some of the upper level students giving tours of the school. Professor McGonagall said that we can have a feast the first night."
"Maybe we could ask some of the shopkeepers to run specials that weekend," Hermione said after a moment. "Maybe Madam Rosmerta would run a lunch special or something."
"That's a good idea," Ginny said with a smile. The two girls started talking about ideas for the Parents' Weekend while they picked berries. By noon, they had decided they had enough berries and headed back to the Burrow.
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Hermione followed Ron into the sitting room. She could hear her mother asking Ginny questions about the recipe she followed for making jam.
"How are you doing?" She asked tentatively.
Ron sighed and sank into the couch. For a few minutes Hermione didn't think he was going to answer her. Finally her turned and looked at her, "Did you ever think that winning the war was going to feel so bad?"
Hermione exhaled sharply, "No. I really didn't think so many people would get involved. I know it's stupid to think about it now, but…we really had no idea what we were getting into." She shook her head ruefully, "I used to get so upset with Harry for asking us over and over again if we were sure we wanted to go. I was sure I knew."
"I know," Ron nodded. "I figured that we fought at the Department of Mysteries and at the Battle of the Tower and we knew what we were doing."
"I thought being clever and supportive would be all we needed to do," Hermione said. "He tried to tell us, but we didn't believe him. He told us about what happened to him in the graveyard and even in the Chamber of Secrets and I thought surely I could have handled that." She sighed, "I really underestimated him."
Ron nodded, "I expected that we would help him find the Horcruxes and he would destroy You-Know-Who. Then we would come back home and be hailed as heroes and get wonderful jobs."
Hermione smiled, "I was thinking the same way." She stared into the fire for a minute, "I was really angry at Harry for a while."
"For saying You-Know-Who's name?"
She nodded, "He knew the name was Taboo. Then I realized how lucky we were not to get caught before. The Taboo was designed to catch powerful wizards who weren't afraid to say his name. If that doesn't describe Harry I don't know who it does."
"That's true," Ron said slowly. "I never really thought about it that way before."
Hermione slowly reached out and touched Ron's hand, "Would you like to go for a walk?"
Ron nodded and shyly took her hand as they headed out to the back garden.
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Ginny and Mrs. Granger had finished washing all of the berries and pulling off all of the stems and leaves by the time Charlie had finished sterilizing all of the jars and lids. Charlie sped up the process of crushing the berries and soon they were boiling the mixture of berries, pectin, sugar, and honey.
By mid-afternoon, they had more than a dozen jars of jam cooling on the shelf in the scullery.
"It smells amazing in here, Ginny," Charlie said. He cast a cooling charm on the kitchen while he set the pots to clean.
Mrs. Granger shook her head in astonishment, "I've never cleaned up that easily after canning jam."
The three of them sat down at the table and enjoyed some berries and cream. Suddenly the fire flared up green and they heard, "Ginny?"
Hurrying over to the fireplace, Ginny dropped to her knees. "Seamus? Is something wrong?"
"Harry has been testifying before the Wizengamot all day," Seamus explained. "He's had a really rough day of it. I think he really needs to see you."
"I'll be right there," Ginny said instantly.
She turned to Charlie, "I'm going to the Ministry."
As much as Charlie wanted to stop her, he knew it was useless. "Be careful. Floo me and let me know what you are going to do."
Ginny nodded and stepped in the fireplace. "Ministry of Magic."
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