Written for the Facebook Group Quills and Parchment Trolls In the Dungeon Competition. I got Runner Up in the Best Tear Jerker Category. :D So yah. The title might seem lame, but you'll get it, I promise.
Disclaimer: All canon characters, plots, and situations from the Harry Potter series belong to JK Rowling. I am not profiting from this work.
x. x . x . x . x
Two days until Halloween
It's such a shame, they said.
She used to be such a nice girl, they said.
She ignored the glares and the taunts, the stares and the whispers that followed her as she stalked through Diagon Alley. After all, she was used to them by now. It'd been three years since the war when they'd all started. A veil of calm enveloped her as she crossed the invisible threshold of Knockturn Alley and Hermione sighed in relief.
x . x . x . x . x
"You'll be there."
"Are you asking me or telling me, Hermione?" Percy's exhausted voice still held a hint of a smirk and she smiled. Penelope had delivered their first born, a daughter they'd named Molly, the day before and her brother-in-law couldn't have been happier.
"I was giving you the illusion of choice." The younger witch smiled at her niece and stroked a calloused finger down the delicate skin of her cheek. "Tell Penny if she needs anything to let me know. I'm always around for you two. You know that, right?"
"We know, 'Mione." Percy pulled her into a one armed hug and pressed a kiss to the crown of her head as he caught his wife's eye from around the corner. She gave him a small smile before disappearing once more. "We know."
x . x . x . x . x
"I'm home, love!"
Fred popped his head out of the workshop, a bright smile on his face. "Did you get what you needed?"
"I did. Mulpepper's had what I needed."
The couple came together in the center of the room, their lips meeting in a heated kiss as the package in Hermione's hand dropped to the floor with a thud.
"Are you sure about this, love? I mean, it's been years. It isn't like this will make much of a difference now…"
"I'm sure. But are you? I mean-"
A single finger landed on her lips as Fred made a disgruntled sound in the back of his throat. "If Harry can't see what an amazing friend he has after this then, he truly doesn't deserve you. Plus, the new store is ready to go and George and I are already agreed that one of us needed to be there to run it personally. This is the perfect opportunity."
"I love you, Fred."
"And I love you, Mione."
The rest of the night dissolved into lost clothes, passionate kisses and forgotten plans as the package from Knockturn Alley lay forgotten in the middle of the floor.
x . x . x . x . x
One Day until Halloween
A routine tapping sound drew Luna's attention to her kitchen window where a large, jet black owl waited patiently for her to let him in.
"Oh, hello Nyx. Fancy seeing you here. What have you brought me?"
She gently relieved the owl of the letter attached to it's leg and gestured to the bowl of owl treats near the window.
Just making sure you're still willing to do your part. It's imperative for the plan to work.
All the best.
"Silly girl. Of course I'm going to help her. Anything for my Harry." Luna's grin was ethereal as she scribbled a quick reply back and wandlessly summoned a small vial from her bedroom.
The viscous red fluid coated the sides of the glass as she tilted it and Luna sighed in frustration. Curse her husband for being so damn stubborn. But bless his former best friend who would still do absolutely anything for him.
"Here you go Nyx," she said as she attached the note and vial to the docile owl's leg. "Fly fast and give Hermione hope that everything will work out."
The normally bubbly blonde sighed as she watched the black bird take flight into the early morning light, praying to the goddess that she wasn't hoping in vain.
x . x . x . x . x
"Hello? Who's here?"
"Oh! George!" Molly Weasley bustled around the corner and grabbed her son in a bear hug, a huge smile painted across her face as the scent of a home cooked breakfast wafted in behind her.
"Fred, Mum, I'm Fred." The twin pointed out good naturedly as he pressed a kiss to her cheek.
"Oh, of course because here's Hermione. And look at you, dear!" The over zealous matriarch grabbed the younger witch in another of her famous hugs, leaving her begging her husband with her eyes for help.
Bastard only laughed behind his mum's back.
"You're just in time for breakfast. Well, if Ronald's left you any, that is. Come in, come in!"
The two shuffled into the crowded kitchen to see a veritable crowd of Weasley's, but thankfully, no Harry Potter.
"Before we begin, we have an announcement to make." Fred began, his arm wrapping around Hermione's shoulders as they both straightened up.
"Oh! You're pregnant!"
Squeals from Fleur, Ginny and Molly echoed around the kitchen as the men, and Hermione, covered their ears.
"No! No, no, no! No." Fred cast a sidelong glance to Hermione, who rolled her eyes and shook her head in exasperation. "No, she's not pregnant."
"Oh." Molly's face fell animatedly as she sat back down at the table and waited for the young couple to continue. "Well, then go ahead and tell us."
"We're completing our ritual tomorrow."
Silence reigned throughout the house as the collected Weasley's blinked stupidly at her. Bill seemed to recover first and cleared his throat.
"You mean, because it's Halloween you're-"
"Yes. We are."
Molly's face was progressively turning pink as she stared at her son and daughter-in-law as each of her family members began to catch on.
"That's wonderful! What do you need me to do?" Ginny's enthusiasm was catching as Bill and Fleur offered their assistance as well.
Ron still stared at his best friend, seemingly torn between his duties as an Auror and his duties as a friend.
"If you're going to the ball tomorrow, just try to keep Harry distracted. That's all. I understand how you feel Ron. That's why I'm not asking for you to be a part of this in any way other than to just not tell Harry. Please?"
Her best friend since the age of 11 stood and tugged her out of his brother's arms to wrap her in a tight hug. "Of course I can do that, 'Mione. I still can't believe you're doing this. After all the trouble you've been in…"
"It's worth it, though. He deserved it."
"Not arguing ther-"
"Hermione Granger!" Molly's shrill voice cut through the touching conversation and her children all winced. "We took you into our family, made you one of us and how do you repay us?! By shaming our family! By-"
"Mum! First off, she's not Granger, she's a Weasley!" Fred's indignant glare cut through his mother's ire. "Second off, she's a brilliant witch who's done an untold number of brilliant things for the Wizarding World! Just because the laws are written backwards and those in power have deemed fit to try to punish her for her part in the war-"
"Let him speak dear." Arthur's hand on her arm kept Molly in her seat and Fred nodded to his father gratefully.
"Hermione is the only one who was sanctioned for her part in the war. And it was only because of her blood status! You know that! So when she started putting that brilliant brain of hers to work, to right some of the wrongs committed," he spun to face his wife, his hands cupping her cheeks as his eyes lit with love just for her, "something that I am so bloody proud of you for, by the way, and people are still trying to punish her. Harry himself is trying to punish her. That ends now. After tomorrow we'll be gone."
Gasps were heard all around as Fred's announcement brought the family to their feet in shock.
"Really, Fred?" Hermione smacked him lightly in the chest as she tried to calm her in-laws down. "What my darling husband means to say is that we'll be leaving the country before the Aurors can catch up with me. We'll be taking over the new location of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes in Paris, under the protection of Madame and Monsieur Delacour."
"Oh, Maman? Papa? Why did they not tell me?" Fleur's eyes lit up angrily for a moment before Hermione smiled apologetically.
"I asked them not to until we'd spoken to the family. It was important that nothing goes wrong. After all, tomorrow's is the most important."
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"Teddy! How are you, little man?" Fred held his arms out as the three year old lunged toward him. He turned toward the older man as he held the toddler close. "No trouble getting away, I hope?"
"No, no trouble. Luna covered for us well."
A barking laugh sounded from behind the pair as a tall man with shoulder length black hair sauntered up, his arm thrown casually around his best friend.
"I think you mean she covered Harry well. We heard all kinds of noises coming from their room this morning that were not fit for the ears of a three year old!"
"Oh, grow up, Sirius!" Hermione growled as she brought a hand up to smack the back of his head. She then pushed up on her toes to press a kiss to the cheek of his companion. "And good morning, Remus."
"Oi! That's not fair! How come I get smacked and he gets a kiss?! And aren't you upset Twin 1?" Moony's getting kisses from your witch!"
Fred rolled his eyes as he pulled a funny face at Teddy. "I think I'm secure enough in my relationship with my wife that an innocent peck on the cheek isn't going to rattle me."
"Okay, you boys have fun." Hermione stepped toward her husband and godson, squeezing them both in a tight hug as she pressed sloppy kisses on their cheeks, much to the toddler's amusement.
"I'll feed the little guy up and tire him out at the park. You've got three hours."
With a wink and another quick peck on the lips, Fred meandered jauntily out of the flat and into the crisp October air.
"Are you ready, 'Mione?"
She cast her eyes back toward the remaining Marauders and sighed. "Hell no, but let's get going anyway."
x . x . x . x . x
She collapsed forward, sweat dripping from her brow and she panted with exertion. Sirius's whoops of joy were all she needed to tell her that the spell had been a success.
She recognized Remus's voice, even if his face was blurry, and the scent of an invigoration draught as he held the vial under her nose.
Muddled voices from across the room reached her ears as she threw back the potion and tried to regain her equilibrium.
"How-" She paused to clear the throat. "How much time do we have before Fred gets to the flat with Teddy?"
Remus checked his watch as Hermione flopped over on her back, her eyes closed as the invigoration draught worked its magic. "About 20 minutes."
"Okay. Give me 5 and I'll be ready to go."
x . x . x . x . x
"I'm so glad this year the theme was a Masquerade. That makes this so much easier!"
Fred grinned at his wife as he pulled her closer to his side. Despite their less than warm reception, they still received the standard invitation to all the biggest Ministry events every year.
Their 'guests' followed closely behind them as Sirius and Remus brought up the rear of their party.
"Hermione, you look gorgeous! That dress is divine!" Ginny's voice carried over the crowd as she elbowed people out of her way. Fred chuckled at his sister as she dragged his twin behind her.
"Thank you, Gin. You look marvelous as well. That mask really set off your hair." Hermione complimented. The black lace highlighted the vivid Weasley hair beautifully and matched the stark black of Ginny's dress.
"Thanks, thanks, but is this them?"
George rolled his eyes at the glaring unsubtlety of his sister. "Nice Gin. Just yell out for everyone here that something's up."
"Moony, Padfoot!" The Marauders straightened up from whatever they were doing to the pocket of some poor unsuspecting gentlemen behind them, a chagrined smile on at least one of their faces. "Take our guests for some refreshments while I make sure everyone else is in place for the reveal, please."
The foursome shuffled away as Hermione turned back to the husband, his twin and their sister. "Who else is here?"
George's eyes scanned the ballroom as he paused in thought. "Ron is here on duty, of course. Harry and Luna are here. Bill and Fleur. Charlie couldn't make it, but he knows. Percy is here, but Penny is at home with the baby. Dad is here, but Mum decided to stay with Andromeda to mind Teddy."
Fred raised an eyebrow and Ginny's lips twisted into a frown. "I've heard nothing but nasty things about Hermione since yesterday. She didn't so much decide as Dad banished her there for the night. Said if she ruined all of Hermione's hard work he'd divorce her."
Fred and George gasped simultaneously, their movements so in sync it took Hermione back to Hogwarts for a moment. Her eyes misted with tears and she had to bite back a sob as she thought about all she'd lost in the time since then.
"Hey now, none of that. I'm so proud of everything you've done. You'll see. They'll talk some sense into him. And if they can't talk it into him, they'll knock it into him." Hermione giggled at her husband and Fred smiled.
x . x . x . x . x
"Well, well, well. If it isn't Miss Granger,"
"You're in luck, Miss Skeeter, because it actually isn't Miss Granger. It's Mrs. Weasley now. Thank you, buhbye." Fred's obvious dismissal did nothing to deter the annoying insect and Hermione groaned as she physically wedged herself into the group.
"Of course, of course. Mrs. Weasley then. How does it feel to be this generation's most notorious criminal? Obviously you have friends in high places since you're still roaming free, but-"
"That will be enough."
Hermione groaned. As if this situation could get any worse…
"I'm sorry, Hermione. I couldn't keep him away any longer."
Hermione spun slowly to face her friend and former best friend. "It's alright, Luna. Couldn't expect him to stay away all night. Who else does he have to verbally abuse, after all?"
"Hold on, let's just…"
Proving that timing truly was everything Ron showed up to haul Rita Skeeter away as Harry settled himself among his friends and former childhood companions.
"Now, that the trash has been taken care of, before you say anything Harry, I have something for you."
"Oh no, Hermione! No, not again! You can't just keep-" Harry broke off mid sentence as the petite brunette pulled what looked like a dog whistle out of her handbag. "Wait, what?"
"Here, go ahead."
She handed the small silver whistle over and the Boy-Who-Lived stared at it in confusion.
"Well, are you gonna blow it, mate?" Fred's exasperated question spurred the younger wizard into action.
A sharp yell from across the room brought a high pitched giggle from Hermione and a string of curses from someone who sounded like-
"Sirius? What's he doing here?"
Harry glanced at his wife in confusion as she slowly stroked his arm, trying to impart some of her natural calm. "He's escorting some very important guests. Just wait, love. Just wait."
The small group of Weasleys and Potters was tense as they waited for Sirius and whoever he was bringing as they listened to his string of ever colorful language as he crossed the expansive ballroom. Harry's eyes fell on the quartet as they approached and easily recognized his godfather and Remus, despite the masks they wore. The other two, however, were unfamiliar to him.
"Hey, Prongslet! I'd like to introduce you to some friends of mine." Sirius pulled Harry toward the couple who shifted uncomfortably by his side. "Harry, I'd like you to meet James and Lily Potter."
Silence reigned over the small group as the two young adults slipped the masks off their faces.
"Blimey, Fred! They're nearly identical!"
Hermione stifled her giggle, though she had to admit her twin-in-law, as George insisted on being called, had a point. Her spell worked in such a way that it raised the dead exactly as they'd been when they'd been killed, which for James and Lily Potter, was 21. So they were about the same age as their son. Odd, but hopefully not a dealbreaker for Harry.
"What-I mean, how...you...HERMIONE!"
Anger seethed out of emerald green eyes as Harry spun to face his former best friend and Hermione felt the last pieces of her broken heart shatter completely. Smiling sadly at the rest of gathered friends, she stepped into the protective arms of her husband as they disappeared with a resounding 'pop'.
x . x . x . x . x
Harry Potter led the team of Aurors when they broke into the flat shared by Hermione and Fred Weasley. Given the intelligence and criminal nature of one and the prankster nature of the other, they were prepared for anything.
What they weren't prepared for was a completely empty flat. Empty, save for a single envelope with the name 'Harry Potter' scrawled across the front in Hermione's neat handwriting.
After a thorough scan for all manner of curses, hexes and spells, the envelope was deemed safe and his team was excused.
Now Harry Potter was sitting in a dark flat, contemplating whether or not to read the letter left to him by someone he knew he'd wronged.
She'd given him everything. She'd bled for him, been tortured for him, stuck by him even when he'd abandoned her, even brought the people he loved back from the dead! And what had he done?
Condemned her, just like the rest of the wizarding populace. They didn't deserve her. And she still kept giving.
He owed it to her to read the letter. With that thought heavy around his heart, he ripped through the envelope and pulled out the parchment, smirking when he saw the smudges of blue ink.
Muggle pens. He knew she'd convert Fred to them one day.
I'm sorry I've put you through so much grief these last three years. I never meant to make you feel like you had to choose between your morality as an Auror or your friendship with me. But I had to make things right from the war. I couldn't leave Teddy without parents. I only wish that I could've brought back Tonks as well. It's only of my biggest regrets that I could never find out precisely where she died. That's one of the constraints of the spell. That's also why I had to break into the Ministry...twice. See, the spell relies on Time Turners. It's sort of like the rewind feature on a video. If I smash a Time Turner on the date someone died, where they died, the spell I created can focus the energy of the Time Turner to rewind time specifically to the moments of their deaths and undo it.
I brought Remus back first because of Teddy. Then Sirius for more practice. But your parents...well, there are two of them, which makes it more complicated as well. So I brought them back this morning at the house in Godric's Hollow. They're still getting used to this time. Go easy on them. Ease them in, if you can. Sirius is doing everything he can to get James and Lily out clubbing immediately, which I think would be a bad idea.
And of course, for every life returned there had to be payment. That was the other issue. It's not like I could go dying 4 times. I had to figure something else out. Please don't ask me what I gave up. It's not important.
This was all I had left to give to you. And now that it's done, I've gone to give you peace. I won't interfere with your Auror duties anymore. Molly won't have to live with the shame of me anymore. We'll still only be a Floo call away for everyone else, but we'll be out of your hair.
Remember Harry, I did this so you could be happy. So, please...be happy.
I love you, brother
Heavy tears dripped onto the parchment as Harry reread the letter over and over, long into the night. Strange how the best Halloween of his life, could still be one of the worst.