Busy work schedule this week among Christmas parties and other things so I am posting two days early! The Friday posting of The First Time Around I will do my best to get up on time, but no promises. Sometimes life gets in the way of a good posting schedule.
I hope you enjoy this much needed fluff chapter!
Reviews and Comments: To Liamtheharrypotterfan: Yes, we are nearly there! Thank you! To ThomasJAvery: Thank you! Harry does love Teddy a great deal and I love showing him just being adorable with babies. Nope, Theo and Bas have finally declared their love for each other and I didn't make you wait to find out. Thank you! To Sets: Thank you! No, we will not a see a Hinny proposal before ASC ends. Thank you! To Wolf's scream: I think the dinner did go well and Hannah has been blessed with getting to meet more of her family. She deserves it. Yes, Harry making plans does feel a bit foreign to him. As to your second review, no, Misha never had any reason to know what Theo's Patronus was, but he did know that Sebastian had a penguin. Thank you! To one-of-a-kind-copycat: Thank you! No news on the Death Eaters as of yet. To Zarathos Morgenstern: Nice to hear from you again! That's fair on waiting. I look forward to your thoughts. Thank you! To A Huge Fan: Yes, I think life is starting to get good and I wanted to show that for some of the couples who are happy. Thanks for loving Theo and Bas so much. As to why I chose a macaroni penguin, first of all, one of my favourite movies from my childhood was this cartoon called The Pebble and the Penguin. My godmother took me to see it in theatres when I was eight and I loved it. I loved where they talked about penguins mating for life and presenting their loved ones with a marble (Tim Curry was terrifying to me as Drake), and when I decided on Theo's patronus I thought I loved him having a penguin because they are so well dressed (look like little tuxedos). I loved that male penguins are known to be the nurturers whereas the females hunt. I loved that they are faithful and a symbol of positive change and adaptability. I just loved them and thought it fit Theo and Sebastian in many ways so putting them together as the same just made sense. Thank you!
To lynnanthony2015: I'm glad you enjoyed seeing Theo and Sebastian sparkle a little more. Thank you! To Tmrpotterhead250: Thanks for loving Hannah and Neville! I love them, too! Harry does need a vacation. I'm looking forward to showing Hermione trying to find her parents — It's not something I've ever written before. Sebastian is a bit insecure sometimes, Clark pulled one over on him and I think he needed to really hear that Theo wants him, not Finn. It was an important moment for both of them. Thank you! To Sirenstrong0617: There will be lots of Hinny in this chapter, I promise. Thank you! To Hanacide: Thank you! I think having Ron go to Australia and not freak out over a crazy ass spider is just sacrilege and such a wasted opportunity! LOL. There is definitely another Ron and spider moment in this chapter. Thank you so much for loving them! Ron and Hermione deserve lots of love. Thank you! To Read and Fly: I definitely believe loved one are watching from the other side. Theo and Bas are so adorable, thank you for loving them. The Death Eaters are in hiding for now, but we'll hear from them again soon (but not yet). Thank you! To mike3308: Harry and Ginny will definitely have a great vacation. Ron and Hermione are in Australia and searching now, thank you! To scrappy8: Thank you! Theo and Bas have finally admitted they're in love and are happy. Thank you! To harstonks: Thank you! I'm glad you found the moment with Theo and Bas so fucking cute (I did too). I love those boys. Thank you! To Levs23: Thanks for loving my Theo and Bas scene. I love how many people have jumped on their ship second to Hinny. We will see Theo meeting Bas' parents and the anniversary party coming up. Thank you!
To Cassiopeia Anastasia Black: Sebastian is very thankful he heard the rest of the conversation as well. They both needed that closure. Harry and Ginny are going to enjoy themselves very much on this holiday. As to Hermione, she is definitely going to try to find her parents in Australia. Yes, please check your notifications on the site. Thank you! To Nuno Neves: Thanks for loving the bit with Hannah and Neville. Julian is a good person and you can see he's trying and he feels guilty for his ignorance. Hannah is lucky to have found her own family on top of Neville's to be part of her life. Harry and Ginny will very excited to get away from the press, from everyone, and just relax. They are definitely each other's best source of happiness. Ron and Hermione are going to Australia mainly to find the Grangers, but yes, it's the exact holiday they both need as well. Thanks for loving the spider soon. Yes, Remadora have the life they deserve and I love it when Tonks embarrasses Harry. I'm glad you love Theobas and thank you for saying they are an iconic couple. Thanks for loving my relationship with Molly and Ginny as well. I hate when fanfics make Molly out to be overbearing and a terrible mum. Thank you! To alix33: Thank you! To Stilly24: Thank you! I'm glad you love Tonks. Yes! I think it's so important for Tonks to understand it's perfectly acceptable for her to want to go back to work. She deserves to do whatever she wants. Thanks for saying Theo and Bas admitting their love for each other was so wholesome! Thank you! To Mutt N Feathers: Thank you! To pix25: Thank you! To AnonymousHufflepuffWriter: Yes, I think it was important for Sebastian to overhear it because I think by doing so it one hundred percent knocks out any insecurities he might have over Finn and Theo's feeling for him. I agree, it wasn't meant to be a storming out big fight moment. No need for drama there. Thank you!
To Slaidback: No worries on the late review, I appreciate seeing your name no matter when it comes up. Thanks for loving the spider reference. Question for you, I have been reading a lot of Jay Hogan books lately (a NZ author) and why do you call yourselves Kiwis? Inquiring minds wants to know? Is it your variation of me being a Canuck? Ha, yes, shadows of volcanoes I would take 100x over big snakes and spiders lol. Thank you! To akshutalankar: Thank you! To ascfan: Thank you! To AQuickRead91: Sounds very exciting lol. Hope you enjoy the Australia chapter! Thank you! To Favestories: Thank you! I quite agree, some nice wrap up and closure on the characters we love. Thank you! To c_thru_the_looking_glass: You're welcome for the warm and fuzzies. Don't worry, all happy for a bit yet lol. Thank you! To marauders_mowopapr: Thank you for saying this chapter was what you needed. Harry and Ginny definitely deserve to have lots of sex in Barbados. You're very welcome. Thank you so much! To PurpleLotus: Thank you! To MotherofKatie: No, Harry and Ginny will not be killed, don't worry. Thank you! To TatiRena: You're welcome for saving Remus and Tonks and giving them this opportunity, thank you! To katelyn453: I think you meant spiders not bats lol. Ron's terrified of spiders so I think that will scare him way more than snakes. Thank you! To BadWolfKris: Thank you! To Pearl1234: The third part of this story is still in the process of being written. As I've said, I plan to take a long break once ASC has finished being posted, a month minimum, maybe two before I start posting the new story. As of right now, I haven't been writing much but taking a much needed break mentally and only the first six chapters Third Times the Charm are officially written. There are six more chapters of ASC left to post still as well. Thank you! To Guest: I'm sorry you feel that despite the story still going, it lost its soul after I killed Sirius. That was well over a hundred chapters ago now and we're wrapping it up. Thank you for reading.
To Bellmel: Yes, Theo loves Bas and Bas loves Theo and all is right in the world lol. I love that Clark gets an angry emoji (much deserved). I love the Wes-style mantra of "it's going to be okay." That made me smile so big — don't make me want to re-read again, Bell! Sebastian hasn't even begun to wrap his mind around the possibility of him living in Norfolk with Theo at some point lol. Ginny definitely summed it all up with the "whole unspoken thing." Happy it made you laugh. Yes, they are in Australia! Thank you again for all of the help you provided with my Australia scenes. Of course Hermione studied the spiders beforehand and knew it was a Huntsmen lol. Hannah and Neville are very cute, and yes, we will see them in TTTC (occasionally). Tonks is always very blunt with Harry and I love her teasing him. She has no filter lol. Harry deserves a much needed vacation with his girlfriend. Thank you!
My posting schedule: Weekly.
Thanks to Dusk for her amazing editing skills.
As always, thank you very much for reading and please, please review!
Your reviews give me life! They give me inspiration! And they make me want to keep writing for more than just myself! Thank you for all of your continued support!
CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FOUR:
The One With the Search for the Rellies
Hermione woke up first, the sounds of Ron's loud snores a comfort to her. She stayed curled in the bed, her cheek on his chest as she looked out at the darkened sky. They'd slept longer than she realized as it was already four in the morning so she knew that the jet lag had definitely hit them. She moved from the bed slowly so as not to wake Ron and made her way into the bathroom.
After using the toilet and splashing cold water on her face, she felt marginally better. When she returned to the bedroom, Ron's eyes were on her.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't," Ron said, stretching in the bed. "Did we sleep away the day?"
"I think so," Hermione admitted. "It's four in the morning."
Ron rubbed a hand over his eyes. "Merlin, guess we have a few hours to kill. Are we taking the bus back to the COMA?"
Hermione shook her head as she climbed back into bed. "No. I think now that we know the location, we can Apparate there. It's less than a thousand kilometres so we won't have to stop somewhere in between."
Ron pulled her down on top of him, tucking her face into his shoulder. "Sounds good." His eyes travelled around the bedroom suspiciously. "No more unexpected guests anywhere in the house?"
She chuckled against his shoulder. "No."
"Thank Merlin," he muttered, turning his head to kiss her. He rubbed his long nose against hers. "Well, looks like we have a few hours to kill."
"Mmm," she said, snuggling into his arms. "Looks like we do."
Ron slid his hands down her spine to cup her bottom. "I have a few things in mind to pass the time."
Hermione lifted her head to look at him, lifting an eyebrow. "Oh? Do you now?"
His lips curved as he squeezed her arse. "One or two."
She squealed when he flipped her over, covering her body with his. She loved when he covered her like this, the feel of his long, lean body over hers made her feel so loved and so protected. She slid her hands under his tee shirt, admiring the muscles in his back before she tugged the shirt over his head.
"Why don't you show me what you had in mind, Ron?"
Ron licked his lips before he lowered his head down to her chest and sucked her breast through her tee shirt. She arched off of the bed. He grinned against her breast, using one hand to knead her other tit while his other held her hip. The feel of his hot mouth sucking her through the fabric, the way his tongue lingered and circled, made heat pool between her legs. When he finally pulled the shirt off and put his mouth to her skin, she dragged her nails along his back.
Ron kissed his way down her stomach and when he settled himself between her legs, she gripped his thick red hair between her fingers. He pressed a kiss to her thigh.
"Something you want?"
He kissed her other thigh, blowing gently over her. "You'll have to tell me."
"Nope," he teased, kissing all around her thighs. Everywhere except where she wanted him. "I need to hear the words."
"Use your mouth," she purred.
"Like this," he said, planting a soft kiss on the crease of her right thigh. "Or this," he said, kissing the other side.
"Lick me," she murmured.
Ron grinned and dragged his tongue down the crease.
"Ron," she begged.
He dragged his palm over her. "I think I need more instruction."
Hermione's fingers tightened in his hair, hard enough to make him wince. "Lick my clit."
"That's my bossy witch," he said before he dragged his tongue over her clit.
Hermione moaned. Merlin, she would never tire of his tongue on her. When he added a finger, she whimpered, and when he began to suck on her, she made a strangled sound.
"Mmm, so good," he murmured, diving his tongue in deeper, driving her closer and closer to that edge. "Come for me, Hermione."
As if she'd been waiting for him to tell her so, she did. She cried out his name, clinging to his hair as she finished and he dragged his long nose over her sensitive clit.
She felt him smile against her as his fingers worked her.
"Mmm, I love it when you swear for me. Let's get you to come again, yeah?"
"Ron," she breathed, arching her hips towards him. "Ron, I need you."
"After," he insisted, using his tongue again.
He continued to tease her, bringing her closer and closer to the edge. When he finally sucked her into his mouth again, she lost it. Her hands clutched his shoulders desperately and he kissed his way up her stomach to her breasts, lingering on her nipples before his mouth finally met hers. She could taste herself on his lips, on his tongue and it drove her mad for him. She pushed his pyjama bottoms down, his boxers along with them. Her fingers kneaded that delicious firm arse of his and he groaned.
Then Hermione gave him a shove and he laughed, rolling onto his back to let her straddle him. She placed her palms over his chest, her fingers teasing the reddish gold curls that rested there. She let her nails tease his nipples into hardened peaks before she bent her head to suck them, one by one. Ron spanked her arse gently and when his finger slid into her again, she rocked against him, riding his fingers as he watched her, his blue eyes dark in desire.
Hermione swatted his hand away, desire shooting through her when he sucked those fingers into his mouth. She kissed her way down his chest, over his flat and toned stomach, and lower. She pressed her lips against his balls, teasing her tongue along them as they trembled beneath her before she moved her tongue along his long shaft.
"Bloody hell," Ron moaned, his hand moving into her bushy hair. "Suck it."
Hermione kept her eyes on him as she did just that, taking him in and out of her mouth in slow motion, dragging her tongue along that thick vein. Ron groaned under her, his hips lifting enough that she choked before she caught herself. She gave him one more long suck before she kissed his tip.
"I want you inside of me."
Ron didn't need to be told twice. He grabbed her arms and flipped her over the bed. Hermione gasped in surprise when she found herself on all fours with Ron's long cock brushing along her core. He used one big hand to stroke her spine and she almost purred under his touch.
"You're so fucking beautiful," he murmured. "And you're all mine."
"I'm yours," she told him.
Then he drove into her and they both cried out. Hermione's hands fisted in the sheets as she pushed herself back against him and Ron grunted. Every thrust went deeper and harder and when she felt herself building again, she moaned.
"Ron… touch me!"
Ron moved his hand around and between her legs. A few strokes with his thumb had her biting her bottom lip. Merlin, she was close.
"Come for me," he hissed.
Hermione moaned his name as he continued to stroke her and when she clenched around him, crying out his name, he let go. They collapsed onto the sheets, their hearts pounding. The room was quiet except for their ragged breathing. It was a few minutes before Ron spoke.
He traced his fingers down her spine, a satisfied smirk on his face. "Feeling better?"
"Mmm," she murmured. "I could definitely sleep again."
Ron slid his hand under her arm to tweak her nipple. "I heard three times will do that to a witch."
Hermione rolled onto her side, resting her head on her arm as she smiled. "You look much too smug, Ron Weasley."
He leaned in to kiss the side of her neck. "Oh, I am." He sucked hard enough on her collarbone to leave a mark and she practically purred. "Mmm, let's go try out that shower so that I can clean you up before I dirty you up again."
"One track mind," she teased.
Ron jumped out of bed and held his hand out to her, pulling her up to her knees and against him. He was half hard again already and she reached down to stroke him between their bodies. Ron pressed his lips to her forehead.
"Let's clean up and then I'm going to have a go at this arse."
Hermione's eyebrow rose. "Oh, really?"
His hands slid down to squeeze her behind, his finger tip circling her as he grinned. "Definitely. Any objections?"
When he picked her up and carried her into the bathroom, she thought she definitely didn't have any objections, not at all.
~ ASC ~
By the time they arrived at the Cabinet of Magical Affairs in Sydney, Australia, Ron was still grinning. A morning of spectacular sex definitely put some extra pep in his step. After a long shower that included Hermione on her knees, he'd taken her from behind, riding that sweet plump arse of hers until he'd lost his mind. He swore the second orgasm was even more intense than the first one and to his delight, he'd gotten her off again.
She'd been a limp noodle during the second shower and they'd fallen asleep for another hour afterwards. They ate a quick breakfast before Apparating to the Australian ministry just before nine AM. The COMA was located in the Customs House at 45 Alfred Street. The Customs Service itself had relocated almost a decade before and was now used as both a museum and a tourist attraction. The COMA was located on the third floor through the back of the huge clock at the front of the building. It required a tap of the wand on the numbers 2-8-7 before the back of the clock shimmered, allowing them stepping through into a mirrored world.
Ron had to admit, it was pretty spectacular. The COMA was an exact replica of the Customs House, but a mirrored image. Glass lifts moved through the centre of the building, taking people from department to department and charmed lights lit up the passages in different colours. It was beautiful.
They walked on towards the service desk to get directions to the Department of Muggle Liaisons to meet with an Agent Cook. When they arrived in his department, he gestured for them to have a seat across from his desk as he tapped his fingers in front of him. He had on khaki coloured robes over black trousers with a khaki shirt and black tie and he wore a slouch hat on top of his flyaway blond hair. He had a full beard in dark blond and grey and the crest on his robes was two boomerangs crossed together with a flaming torch surrounded by stars.
"G'day. I'm Agent Brendan Cook. What can I do ya for?"
"Good morning, Agent Cook. I'm Hermione Granger and this is my boyfriend, Ron Weasley. We are looking for two Muggles who would have moved here around this time last year. I'm their daughter, but they're going under the names of Monica and Wendall Wilkins."
"They had their memories altered," Hermione admitted. "We're from England and well, I was worried that they would be targets in the war, having a Muggleborn daughter."
Cook's eyes softened a moment as he leaned back in his chair. "I reckon that's true. Crikey, you wiped their memories?"
Hermione nodded, biting her bottom lip. "I did."
"That's a felony, Miss Granger."
"I was aware of the risks when I did so," Hermione told him, her chin held high. "I have a letter here from the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement from the Ministry of Magic in Britain, Kingsley Shacklebolt. He assisted me in making sure that they were kept safe in a… witness protection program sort of thing."
"Honestly?" Cook asked, taking the letter. He read it over a moment before he blew out a slow breath. "Good on ya. This all looks in order. All right, let's see what I can do about finding your rellies. Do you know where they settled?"
"I know that they arrived in Sydney. They're dentists," Hermione told him. "I don't think that they would be practicing here, though. Part of the witness protection was to put them on a sabbatical."
He nodded as he tapped his fingers on the desk again. "I have a mate with the local coppers. I'll have a chat with them and we'll try to locate them. Got any pictures?"
Hermione handed him the photo that she had of them and he nodded. "No worries, Miss Granger, we'll find your rellies. Will you two be hanging around a bit?"
"Yes. We can wait here."
Cook nodded and tilted the brim of his hat down before he promised to be back in a bit.
Ron turned to look at her, lifting his eyebrow. "Did you understand what he was bloody saying?"
"For the most part," Hermione admitted. "What's a rellie?"
She chuckled and took his hand in hers. "I feel a little better about this."
Ron brought her hand to his lips. "We'll find them, Hermione."
They waited almost an hour but when Cook returned, he had a pile of paperwork in his hands.
"Sorry about the wait," he said, taking a seat across from them. "The Mugs are a bunch of bludgers when it comes to this stuff. All right, so, we've got three couples with the name Monica and Wendall Wilkins, how 'bout that? First couple has been living here in Sydney for about six months. Both listed as unemployed. Second, are living separately up in Brissie, Wendall is a writer and Monica works at a restaurant. And last but not least, I've got another Wilkins couple living down in Melbourne who are kite-sailing instructors on St Kilda Beach. I have addresses for all three."
"We'll take them," Hermione said, her face brightening.
"Now, this is just a quick search on names. If you want a more detailed report, I can look into it, but it will take a few days, if not the week. The Mugs aren't exactly known for being quick with this and we usually have to jump through hoops to get things from them."
"This will be fine," Hermione assured him. "Ron and I will search through this list and perhaps if you find anything else, you could let us know?"
"I'd be stoked."
Hermione handed the address of their cottage in Byron Bay and he nodded.
"Beauty! As soon as I know anything, I'll give you a shout."
"Thank you," Hermione said, standing up.
They both shook his hand before turning to leave and Ron took the paper from her. "So, are we starting in Sydney?"
"That seems like the best choice since we're already here," Hermione agreed.
Ron held the door open for her as they headed towards the lifts. "All right, let's call the Straya Bus and head to the first address."
~ ASC ~
The bus ride was just as bumpy and over the top as the first time they rode it. Hermione sat between Ron's open legs, letting him hold her tightly as she held onto the pole in front of them and tried to keep them seated tightly together. She knew despite their efforts, they were both going to have some bruises from each other's elbows and knees clinking together. The bus leapt over cars, slithered through tight streets, and when they finally arrived at the address they were given, Hermione noted it was in a high rise building in downtown Sydney.
The driver let them off and when Ron took her hand in his, she felt a bit stronger. There was a doorman at the front and Ron used a discreet Confundus Charm so that they could sneak inside. The whole time they took the lift up to the fifteenth floor, Hermione could hear her heart pounding in her chest.
She had no idea what she was going to say or how she was going to explain her actions to her parents. The thought alone terrified her. Ron squeezed her hand in assurance and for the hundredth time since they'd arrived yesterday, she was grateful he was here with her.
They exited the lift and headed down the corridor to number 1506 and knocked on the door. A dog barked and a moment later a tall man with a huge handlebar moustache opened the door.
"G'day," he said. "What can I do ya for?"
Hermione bit her lip and Ron cleared his throat.
"Good afternoon, Sir. We're looking for Mr Wendall Wilkins?"
"Ya found him. Who are ya?"
Hermione's face fell.
Ron shook his head. "Sorry to disturb you, but I guess we got the wrong Wendall Wilkins. Have a good day, Sir."
The man nodded and closed the door.
The moment the lift doors closed behind them, a tear escaped Hermione's eye. Ron pulled her into his arms.
"Hey! None of that! We'll find them, Mione."
"I knew it wasn't going to be that easy, but when he said his name and… I don't know, I got my hopes up."
Ron kissed her forehead. "We still have two more places to check out and Agent Cook is still investigating for us. We've got this. All right?"
She nodded and wiped the tears from her eyes. "All right."
When they stepped out into the bright sunshine, Ron took her hand in his. "Well, looks like the other two are in two different cities. Should we flip a coin?"
Hermione shook her head. "No, Brisbane is closer. We should go there first."
"Tomorrow," Ron told her. "It's not exactly around the corner. Let's find a place to grab some food and maybe we can explore the city a bit? What do you think?"
Hermione couldn't argue with his logic. According to her map, Brisbane was at least nine hours away and since they didn't know exactly where they were going, she thought taking the Straya Bus was the best course of action. Tomorrow would be a wiser plan. Plus, Ron was right. They were in Australia! They deserved to take some time and see the sites while they were here.
"Okay. Where to first?"
"Food," Ron said. "Then you tell me. I'm sure you have a hundred ideas in that big sexy brain of yours."
Hermione grinned. "A few."
They found a small restaurant nearby and ate meat pies with beer. They took a walk on the Harbour Bridge, taking photos with the camera that Ron had brought along. The Pylon Lookout took them through a small museum explaining the history of the bridge. When they stood on the observation deck, it was a spectacular view of the city. Then they spent the rest of the afternoon touring the Sydney Opera House. They found themselves at the Tramsheds by the evening where they ate fish and chips and walked around the different retailers, holding hands.
They took more photos and picked up a few random souvenirs to give to friends and family. It was almost midnight by the time they returned to their cottage in Byron Bay.
They settled into bed, kissing each other goodnight and the next morning, used their wands to call for the Straya Bus. It only took an hour to get from Byron Bay to Brisbane and the city was just as beautiful as Sydney, if a bit smaller.
The triple decker bus dropped them off at ten in the morning outside of a small quaint house in a subdivision in East Brisbane. Hermione let out a slow breath as they slowly walked up the drive. The house was a dark grey with white trim and the front door had a big stained glass window in blue and yellow with a sun on it. It was rather lovely.
She smiled at the blue mailbox with the name Wilkins on the front, but she let Ron take the lead, knocking on the door. When there was no answer, Hermione's shoulders slumped.
"Hey," Ron said. "They could be out. It's half past ten at this point and a Wednesday. We'll come back around dinner time, yeah?"
Hermione sighed her disappointment, but agreed. They took the Straya Bus back to the main city and after Hermione looked through her tourism book, decided to head to the Kangaroo Point Cliffs and go on a hike. They took their time, taking more photos along the way. Ron decided that the weather was perfect for a hike because it was cold enough that the hike kept him warm, but not cold enough that he was freezing his arse off.
They grabbed lunch from a beachside kiosk that provided burgers and chips and then headed out to go whale watching. Hermione oohed and ahhed, her eyes widening in amazement and a kind woman took a few photos for them with the whales as their backdrop. They headed back out to the Wilkins house and again found it empty.
"Maybe they went on a trip?"
Hermione frowned. "What do we do? Just come back tomorrow?"
"We could leave a note," Ron suggested.
"And say what exactly? I might be the daughter that you don't remember having? Please write."
Ron scratched his nose. "Okay, granted, not my best idea. Look, you said that you wanted to explore some more. How about we go to the botanical gardens tomorrow and check in again tomorrow evening, yeah?"
Hermione sighed and nodded. "Okay, yeah, we can do that."
The Botanical Gardens were amazing. Ron took tons of photos to show Neville and even grabbed a book for him on the history and the plants they had. When the Wilkinses still didn't answer the door, Hermione began to fret. Ron did his best to assure her, but after five days of no answer, he had to admit it didn't look good.
"Look," Ron began. "Who knows where they might be? They could have gone on a trip, Hermione. Why don't we head down to Melbourne and check out the ones who are working at St Kilda Beach? We'll let Agent Cook know and maybe he can have the Muggle please-men let us know when they come back."
"Policemen," Hermione corrected. "And I'm sure that they have better things to do than to wait for some unknown Muggles to return."
"True," Ron said. "But if we leave word with them that someone needs to speak with them… come on, Agent Cook will know something."
Hermione reluctantly agreed.
They returned to the COMA the next morning to inform Agent Cook of their plans.
"All right," Cook said. "I can do that. I'll speak to the coppers and have the Wilkins contact them when they return."
"That would be great," Ron told him. "In the meantime, Hermione and I are going to head down to Melbourne and check out that Monica and Wendall."
"I did get a chance to do some more digging," Cook said. "Both the Wilkins in Brissie and in Melbourne are the same age. They both arrived on holiday from England a year ago. It looks likes either or could be your rellies."
Hermione nodded. "Okay. We'll head to Melbourne tomorrow morning then. Thank you."
"It's a bit of a ways," Cook said. "From Byron Bay, Melbourne is almost seventeen hours. If I were you, I'd consider talking to the portkey office and finding a new place to stay down there for a few days. Ubiquitous Place has a great hotel. Kite sailing is pretty popular, even in the winter."
"Thank you," Ron said. "We'll be in touch."
They headed back to their little beach front cottage and the moment they sat on the couch in the living room, Hermione let the tears fall. Ron wrapped his arms around her and she snuggled into his arms. She couldn't even quite say why she was crying. It was like she was so close to finally finding her parents again and yet they were just out of reach. After a year without them, it shouldn't bother her as much as it did.
Ron kissed the top of her head.
"How about I take out some of that ice cream I saw in the kitchen? We'll treat ourselves to some before bed."
Hermione started to nod before she changed her mind. No, she didn't want ice cream. She wanted a distraction. Before Ron could move, she straddled him on the sofa, sliding her hands up the back of his neck and into his hair.
"I have a better idea."
She pulled her shirt over her head and Ron's eyes widened, his hands coming up to cup her through her bra.
Hermione smiled and leaned in to kiss his neck. "Make love to me. Distract me. I want to think about something else."
Ron tucked his thumb under the strap of her bra and slipped it off of her shoulder. "When I'm through with you, you won't be thinking about anything at all."
He struggled with the clasp and before she could help him with it, he merely used his wand to slice her bra open. She started to protest his ridiculous ineptness when it came to opening her bras, but his mouth had already wrapped around her nipple and she lost the ability to speak. She rubbed herself over him and he groaned.
"Get to it," she ordered, making him grin.
Ron pulled his shirt over his head and when he tossed it behind him, he froze.
"It fucking came back!"
Before Hermione could ask what Ron he meant, he'd leapt up off of the couch, his wand pointed at the huge spider in the corner of the living room ceiling. She squealed, grabbing her own wand.
"How the fuck did that thing get inside? Again?"
"I don't know," Hermione told him, her breasts bouncing at her movement and momentarily distracting Ron from the spider. "It's Australia! Things find their way into the house."
The spider moved and Ron let out a rather high pitched shriek that made Hermione laugh.
"Seriously? After everything that you've seen?"
"Shut it!" Ron exclaimed, his wand arm shaking. "Do something! Please!"
Hermione sighed and aimed her wand at it, but this time, she missed and it moved across the ceiling at lightning speed. Ron squealed and ran out of the living room. Hermione aimed a second time and this time the spider fell to the ground, petrified, making Ron scream. She carefully levitated it up and out again and when it floated past Ron, he paled. Once it was outside and the door secure, she turned to look at her boyfriend, her hands on her hips.
"That's two. You owe me."
Ron fell to his knees in front of her, wrapping his arms around her waist and hugging her tightly. "You're a goddess, Hermione! I adore you! Thank you for being my hero!"
Hermione ruffled her fingers through his hair. "I adore you even though you scream like a child when you see a spider."
"Oi! I'll have you know that was a very manly scream!"
She chuckled. "If you say so."
Ron growled, standing and lifting her with him so that she squealed. "Enough with the chatter, woman! I believe we had other plans."
Hermione laughed as he pulled her back to the sofa. His body covered hers as they kissed and tugged at each other's clothes and when he finally slid into her, her head fell back against the cushions in ecstasy.
She thought this was exactly the distraction she needed.
~ ASC ~
Since Harry owned the property, Basil Apparated them directly to Barbados, within the wards of Potter's Paradise. They arrived in the garden, the warm sun bright and cheerful, making up for the rather gloomy day they'd left back in England. Harry looked up at the large white home before them. They came in through the back, showcasing the clear blue in-ground swimming pool with two lounge chairs and a big umbrella to give them shade and he smiled.
It was perfect.
"Wow," Ginny said, still holding his hand as she looked up at the house. "This is really yours?"
"Ours," Harry corrected. "It was a gift from my great-great-great-grandfather to his wife. According to Uncle Sirius, my grandmother remodelled it about fifty years ago to keep it up to date and Basil has been taking care of it ever since."
"It's beautiful," Ginny said.
"It is," Harry agreed, squeezing her hand. "I've only been here once. I came by with Uncle Sirius when he was giving me a tour of all of the Potter assets, but I always meant to come back. Want a tour?"
Ginny nodded, smiling as he led her across the stone and up the few steps into the back of the house. They went through a marble arch, outlined in dark green lattice into a living room and sun room area with a comfy couch and chairs, surrounded by open arches with the same dark green shutters and lattices. Before going into a rather grand entranceway with a large wooden winding staircase that led to the second floor. It had three bedrooms, one bathroom, and one master bedroom with its own bath. Ginny's eyes landed on the dark wooden French doors that the bed faced with a smile.
"I think your grandmother had a theme."
Harry grinned. "I've been told she liked a view."
He plopped himself onto the bed, tossing his glasses onto the bedside table and rubbing his eyes. Ginny crawled onto the bed next to him, resting her chin on his chest.
"Want to talk about it?"
"No," he admitted. "I just want to sleep for the next day or two. I don't think I realized how much I needed this."
Ginny traced her nails over his chest through his tee shirt. "Me neither. As soon as we arrived it felt like a weight was lifted from our shoulders, didn't it?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah."
Ginny rested her cheek against him, her arms coming up to wrap around him. "We should sleep a bit, start our relaxing now and then we can unwind and have fun."
"But nap first?"
"Nap first," Ginny agreed.
Harry wrapped his arms around her, the afternoon sun shining through the open balcony doors and warming them. It sounded absolutely perfect to him.
They slept for almost three hours.
When they woke, they both felt groggy but refreshed.
They went downstairs into the kitchen and found a platter of fruit sliced up and took it out to snack on with thick ham sandwiches that Harry threw together. It was after three and they still had lots of day left.
"I was thinking today we could plan to stay by the pool, here at the house. We can swim and relax and open up some wine, maybe? Then tomorrow we'll head down to the beach and go surfing in the morning."
"At sunrise?" Ginny asked. "Surfing at sunrise is the most incredible sight."
"Definitely," Harry agreed.
They changed into their bathing suits and Ginny got Harry to help her with lotion to protect her from the sun. They took seats on the lounge chairs in the shade and Harry found some music on the wireless to play on low. Ginny rolled over onto her side, resting her head on her arm as she looked over at him.
"Awake over there?"
"Barely," he said, his lips curving. "It's so nice to not have to do anything."
"You'll be bored in three days if all we do is lie by the pool."
Harry knew that she was right about that, but he wasn't ready to admit it. He was too pleased to be on this little holiday right now with her.
"Harry, can I ask you something?"
He opened his eyes, turning on his side to look over at her. Her brow was furrowed, making a few of her freckles bunch together and her brown eyes were serious.
"What is it?"
Ginny chewed the side of her lip before she spoke. "I've been wondering about something and we haven't really had a chance to discuss it. Well, I suppose we have, but with everything that's been going on, it hasn't exactly come up."
Harry frowned. "What's going on, Gin?"
Ginny sighed. "I wanted to ask about your Patronus."
Harry's eyebrow rose. "My Patronus?"
"Harry… you made a fourth animal during the final battle and it was a stallion."
"I know," he teased. "We were both there, you know." At her look, his lips curved. "It surprised me too, Ginny. I had no idea that could even happen. I mean, I've heard of your Patronus changing over time to reflect big moments in your life or changing because you've found the person you're supposed to be with, but to add a whole other animal to my existing three? It was a shock."
"Patronuses are a reflection of who you are as a person, right?"
Harry nodded. "In part. It's more of a reflection of your soul. It's rare, but it's not unheard of to produce more than one animal at the same time. It's something that runs in my family, apparently, though Uncle Remus told me no one has done so since my great-grandfather, Henry Potter. He produced three animals as well: Lion, owl, and stag. Uncle Remus and Uncle Sirius researched it when I first presented with three."
"Yes, I remember. The wolf represents Remus, the stag, your dad, and the dog, Sirius," Ginny continued. "And the stallion is the equivalent to my Patronus."
Harry reached across the small divide to take her hand. "And this shocks you?"
She nodded. "Yes. I just… it's not like I haven't been part of your life, Harry, so… why now?"
"True," he agreed. "But Patronuses can change over big life moments, Gin, and well, I suppose you can say us having sex counts as a big life changing event."
Her lips twitched. "It was kind of life changing."
He brought her fingers to his lips. "Think about it, Ginny. You and I have always had this insane connection that goes way beyond sex. Haven't we?"
Ginny's brown eyes met his. "Yes, we have. That's never been a question."
"Well, don't you think that means something?"
Ginny bit her lip again. "So, you're saying that when we finally decided to become fully intimate, it what, solidified our relationship and gave you another side to your Patronus?"
"More or less," Harry said. "Ginny, when you were given that potion that made you hate me, the thing that I learned from it, was that it affected us the way it did because of our bond. I know everyone tosses around that word — soulmate — but I know you are my soulmate. When Borage was helping me find the antidote for you, he said that our connection had broken magical barriers before."
"The love potion," Ginny remembered.
"And the Veela at the World Cup," Harry added.
"But I didn't fully break you out of them," Ginny argued. "It was more of a trance and I pulled you back to reality."
"Exactly. You made me more lucid. The only reason you didn't fully break the love potion spell was because Vane kept feeding me more doses. Borage said something in Portuguese and he told me that we were two lovers with a strong connection and that because we hadn't consummated our relationship yet when you took the potion, it gave us a better chance at defeating it and bringing you back. That tells me that by us finally shagging, we solidified our bond as you said."
Ginny sat up in her chair and moved to join Harry in his lounge chair. He smiled when she settled sideways across his lap. "And when we made love, we made us stronger."
Harry cupped her cheek in his hand. "Yeah, I think so. We took that final step in making us well, us, and making our connection even stronger. I think that's what gave me an extra boost in my magic. You."
Ginny linked her fingers with his. "I didn't do anything."
"You let me inside of you," he whispered near her ear. "We connected on every level and we… marked each other."
Ginny's eyes darkened. "You are my soulmate, Harry. I know that. I feel like part of me is missing when you're not around. Like I've lost a limb or something and it doesn't even make sense."
"I know, I feel the same," he admitted. "When I don't wake up beside you, I feel off. You being at Hogwarts come September is going to kill me."
"We'll have to make good use of the mirrors. Talk to each other until we fall asleep every night like we did after the battle on the nights we weren't together."
"Yeah," he agreed. "We're both going to be so busy and I'm going to miss you like mad."
Harry captured her lips for a kiss, resting his forehead against hers.
"I love you and in all honesty, the stallion is part of my Patronus because you are one of the four people who make me who I am and your Patronus is a mare. I know that there are a lot of people who influence me, Ginny, but the three animals representing the three men who were most important to me and the final piece, the woman who owns my heart, body, and soul. I think it's kismet."
"I love you," she whispered, kissing him again.
Harry wasn't sure how long they sat there kissing, but when they finally pulled back, he licked his lips. "Did I answer your questions?"
"Yes," she said, smiling up at him. "But, don't you think it's strange?"
"Well," she said, turning to fit herself between his legs and resting her back against his chest. "Not strange that you made a stallion emerge from your wand, but that it was a stallion and that I didn't have a doe or something to counter one of your other animals?"
Harry shook his head. "No, not even a little bit. My parents had matching Patronuses. My dad a stag and my mum a doe, but a doe doesn't suit, you, Gin."
"No," he repeated. "The mare stands for who you are. It embodies your strength, your courage, your independence, your confidence, and your sense of competition. I love that about you. It's wild and free, like you."
"And your mother didn't embody those same ideals?"
Harry hesitated. "I would say you're more like Zee than my mum, but I only know of what I know of her from Uncle Sirius and Uncle Remus. I know she loved my dad and that she died protecting me. Family was important to her because her own kind of abandoned her. I think that the doe suited what I know of her temperament and of her hopes and dreams."
Ginny wrapped her arms around his where they were wrapped around her waist. "Everything you mentioned about the mare, you know it suits you, too. Your strength, your courage, your sense of competition… and stallions are known symbols of heroism and leadership as well as stags. It does make sense. I can see the connection there. You do have a lot of stallion in you."
Harry pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Anything that connects me more to you is a plus in my book."
She smiled. "Mine too."
"Wait… are you calling me a stallion because of my cock?" he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.
Ginny snorted. "Well, it certainly applies, doesn't it?"
"Minx," he murmured, making her laugh.
Ginny nipped at his ear. "As for September, Harry, has Theo ever told you how he and Bas use their mirrors?" At Harry's raised brow, she smiled. "It involves you touching yourself and me watching."
Harry made a strangled sound in response before he swallowed. "And you? Would you touch yourself for me, too?"
Ginny pressed her lips against his throat. "Maybe. If you ask nicely." Before he could respond, she hopped up from the chair, tucking her hair behind her ear. "Come on. Let's get in a swim before dinner."
She adjusted the strap of her halter top bikini and then dove straight into the pool.
Harry laughed when she broke the surface. "Is it warm?"
Harry took off his glasses and put them on the lounge chair next to his towel before he dove into the water next to her, laughing when she splashed him as he broke the surface. Yeah, this was definitely the place that he wanted to be.
~ ASC ~
Melbourne turned out to be a bust. The portkey had brought them into the magical village of Ubiquitous Place, hidden in the middle of downtown Melbourne. Ubiquitous Place was full of restaurants and shops including a magical menagerie that sold owls and tropical birds to use for post. They got a room at the Ubiquitous Inn in the middle of the village for two nights and then headed out into the city of Melbourne.
Not only were the kite-sailing instructors not secretly Jean and Greg Granger, they were the farthest thing from them. They were hippies in every sense of the word and Ron was positive that he hadn't understood half of what they said. But he did get to go kite-sailing.
That had totally been worth it.
Hermione had been hesitant at first, but once Ron had convinced her to get into the tiny boat with him, she'd been excited. That first gust of wind that took their kite and propelled them forward had him grinning like a fool.
Who knew Muggles could do so many brilliant things?
He loved the feel of the cool wind in his face and Hermione clutching his arm as the kite soared them across the ocean. The wind was chilly, but it was definitely worth it. They spent two hours learning how to kite-sail before Wendall Wilkins finally took them out on the water, a wide smile on his weathered face as he sailed in another boat next to them.
They had dinner at a local beach kiosk and then walked around a marketplace, hand in hand. They went back to the inn for the night, taking a long shower together before falling into bed, lips and limbs locked in place. They spent the morning exploring Melbourne, visiting Fitzroy Gardens and then spent the afternoon in an inner-city suburb called Southbank that had all sorts of interesting places for them to stop. They even toured a brewery and found a tiny bookstore.
When they returned to the inn late that night, Hermione snuggled into his arms in the big bed, her face pressed against his chest.
"Today was fun."
"Definitely," he agreed, kissing her brow. "What time does our portkey bring us back tomorrow?"
"Eleven," she told him. "Do you think that Agent Cook left us a message?"
"Maybe. We'll have to see when we get back to the beach house."
Hermione sighed, brushing her bushy curls away from her face. "They have to be the ones in Brisbane, don't they?"
"I think so," Ron told her. "Agent Cook will let us know if there are more, but how many Monica and Wendall Wilkins can there really be in Australia?"
"More than I thought," she admitted.
Ron kissed her brow again. "We'll find them. I know it."
He rolled, pinning her beneath him and sliding his hands up under her shirt. "But for now, I think you need to stop thinking all together."
Hermione's lips curved. "Do I?"
Ron pressed his lips against the pulse in her throat. "Yes. I have just the distraction."
Her smile widened as he pulled his shirt over his head and her hands reached up to slide over his flat stomach, through the soft red curls on his chest, and over his biceps. "So far, I'm a fan."
He moved to his knees and undid his jeans, slipping them down his hips, followed by his boxers, tossing them onto the floor and leaving him completely naked.
To her surprise, he didn't try to remove her clothes. Instead, he kissed her, long and slow, pulling her desire forward and leaving it pooling between her legs.
"Mmm," she murmured. "Come back here."
He kissed her lips once more and then he reached down to stroke himself, her eyes moving to watch his hand work his hard length. "Want to give me a hand?"
Hermione reached out to grip him in her hand and his eyes crossed. She worked him slowly, taking her time as she teased and tugged on him, rubbing him just how he liked. When she knew that he was close, she let go and pulled her shirt over her head. His heated gaze moved over her, watching as she unclasped her bra and he licked his lips. Then she reached for him again and dragged the tip of him across her nipple and he groaned.
"Oh, fuck, Mione…"
Her lips curved. "Do you like that?"
She did it again and again, alternating between her breasts and he couldn't help but look down at the wet trail he was leaving behind with every stroke. When her hand started to pump him faster, he grabbed a fistful of her hair in one hand, gripping one of her breasts with the other and thrust his hips forward. Two more pumps of her hand and he was finishing all over her breasts, groaning her name as he did.
He collapsed onto the bed next to her, a hand on his chest. "Bloody hell, woman! You're trying to kill me."
Hermione kicked off her jeans and knickers before she rolled on her side to look at him. "Aren't you going to clean me up?"
His blue eyes darkened. "Oh, I'm going to do a hell of a lot more than bloody clean you up. I just need a minute."
Her eyes twinkled as she stood up, stretching her arms up over her head. "Don't take too long."
A moment later he heard the shower turn on and then her moan. He was in the bathroom in record time, his eyes on where she stood in the shower, holding the spray head between her legs in a way that made him rock hard again in seconds.
"Give me that," he growled, wrestling it from her gasp as he fell to his knees on the hard tile and lifted her leg over his shoulder.
Hermione shuddered when his tongue slid over her clit. "Oh, Ron…"
His name burst from her lips when she came and then he stood up, spun her around and shagged her against the wall. She came a second time as his thumb pressed against her and he followed a minute later, their cries echoing in the bathroom. Ron kissed her shoulders as he extricated himself and moved to stand under the hot spray.
"So, distracted enough yet?"
Hermione slid her hands up his chest as she reached around him for the soap, a soft smile on her face. "I don't know. Kiss me again and we'll see."
And by the time they made it into the big bed of their hotel room, the water had grown cold and neither one of them had cared.
Not one bit.
~ ASC ~
Harry and Ginny spent that first day out by the pool. They swam and snogged, racing each other in the water, and snogged some more. They dried in the sun and then headed in the house to find something to eat. Ginny put on some Pat Benatar and Harry turned the volume up as they worked together to find something to cook for dinner.
He pulled out two steaks as Ginny pecked his cheek at his choice. Harry began to sort through ingredients to find something to marinate it with as Ginny made a sound of delight at the large amount of fresh vegetables in the ice box, pulling them out happily.
Harry tapped his foot to the beat of the music as he chopped up some fresh garlic, tossing it into a mixing bowl with some oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and a little spice with salt and pepper. He whisked it all together before he poured it into casserole dish where he had laid out the two steaks and then put a marinating charm on it.
"Do you think that we have enough vegetables to make ratatouille?" Harry asked. "That would go great with the steaks."
"I think so," Ginny said. "I've never made that before."
"It's easy," he assured her. "Just requires lots of chopping."
Benatar began to sing about love being a battlefield as Harry told Ginny to start chopping up everything into cubes, starting with the eggplant. Once it was chopped, he tossed the eggplant into a pan, adding in some oil and sea salt while Ginny began to chop up the zucchini.
The two of them sang along to the music as they worked and when Harry put the eggplant on a plate and set it aside, Ginny added oil and sea salt to the pan again for the zucchini. They traded places, Harry chopping up onion and bell peppers as Ginny plated the zucchini. Harry tossed the onion and bell peppers into the pan with oil and sea salt and Ginny added crushed garlic for him to cook on low. She used her wand to cut the fresh tomatoes and Harry asked her to add them into the pan with the onion, bell peppers, and garlic before adding in some tomato paste, a bit of sugar, some crushed red pepper flakes, and a little bit more sea salt.
"Mmm, that smells good," Ginny said, looking down at the sauce in the pan.
"Going to taste even better," he assured her.
Harry reached for the plate of eggplant and added it back into the pan, watching it boil. When he leaned in to shift the heat to let it simmer, he slipped his hand down to tug Ginny towards him and steal a kiss.
"We make a pretty good team in the kitchen."
"We do. It helps that my boyfriend likes to cook."
"It helps that my girlfriend likes to cook," he teased, kissing her again. "I put a charm on the steak so that the marinate would take quickly. Another ten minutes and we should be able to get them on the grill."
"Perfect. I'll finish up the ratatouille if you want to grill."
He kissed her again and headed over to the other side of the kitchen where a grill was built into the counter. He checked on the steak, pleased to see them looking good. He plopped them onto the grill as Ginny added the plate of zucchini into the pan. While it simmered, she sliced up fresh basil and thyme to mix into the pan and a little bit of oil.
The sound of Ginny belting out the lyrics to "Shadows of the Night" made him smile. He reached around to turn the burner on low before he grabbed her hand and pulled her into a dance. Ginny laughed, her brown eyes lighting up as he spun her around and pulled her back into his arms. She looped her hands around his neck as they swayed in the kitchen.
"Is this what our life is going to be like? Cooking and dancing together in the kitchen?"
Harry brushed his lips over her ear. "If I have any say in it, absolutely. And I plan on having you for dessert."
She blushed, her lips forming into a sexy pout that made Harry kiss her again. He let his hand slide over her back, fingers brushing under the tiny string that was across her back barely holding the small triangles over her breasts. He loved that they were both still in their bathing suits, Ginny wearing the sarong he'd bought her years ago, tied at her waist.
"Mmm, yes, this is perfect."
Ginny stood on her toes and stole another kiss before she moved away from him to take the ratatouille off of the burner. Harry turned back to the steaks, pleased with how they were coming along. They set a small table for them and then Ginny poured them each a glass of cabernet sauvignon from one of the Potter vineyards. They turned the music down when they sat down to eat; Ginny groaned at her first bite.
"Okay, this is amazing. Best idea ever."
Harry's lips curved. "I know how to keep my witch happy."
"Food and swimming?"
"I was going to say food and orgasms, but we can pretend that I meant that."
Ginny smirked. "Cheeky. Besides, I haven't had an orgasm today."
Harry lifted his eyebrow. "You will."
She laughed, digging into her food with gusto. They ate in companionable silence, both enjoying the food. Ginny left a little ratatouille on her plate, pushing it away from her and reaching for wine.
"I'm stuffed. That was delicious. I guess I'll keep you around."
He chuckled. "Good to know I'm good for two things at least."
"Three," she corrected, her eyes on his over her wine glass. "Food, orgasms, and snogging."
"Right," he said, chuckling again as he finished his own steak.
"This was what we both needed," Ginny said, sipping her wine. "It's… rather freeing to be here. To just cook and swim and dance and laugh… being home has been hard without Dad there."
"I know," he said, softly. "I still miss Uncle Siri every day. But you all have each other to remember the good times and that's always nice to have."
"It is," she agreed. "And you?"
Harry shrugged. "I'm fine."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Don't, Harry. Not with me."
He scooped up the last bite of the ratatouille on his plate before he spoke. "I am fine. Maybe that's not the best word, but… things feel good, Gin. I miss Papa and Zee's heartbroken over losing her father, obviously, and Lady Godiva, too. I think Padfoot misses the panther a bit as well, but despite it all… there's so much good, too, you know? Spending time with Teddy and Mina and Leo is like the light at the end of the tunnel. It's pure joy and I love feeling that. I love knowing that there's good in the world. I'm excited to start at the academy and I'm looking forward to moving into Clevedon Court and starting my life. For the first time in forever I don't feel like I'm looking over my shoulder or waiting for the next bad thing to happen."
Ginny reached across the table to squeeze his hand. "He's really gone, Harry."
"He's really gone," he repeated.
"Have you talked about it?"
Harry shook his head, taking the last bite of the ratatouille that he was still holding on his fork. He chewed thoughtfully for a moment before he sipped his wine. "You know, for the first time in longer than I can remember, I haven't had a single bad dream after an encounter with Voldemort. I was afraid that day, Ginny, but I wasn't as afraid as I should have been."
"What do you mean?"
Harry toyed with his wineglass as he spoke. "I killed him. I struck him down with lightning and watched him breathe his last breath and yet… I'm not sorry. I murdered him."
"Harry, no, you can't call what you did murder."
"Can it be called self defence though? Ginny, I knew what I was going up against him to do. I knew that he had to die. It wasn't even a question about bringing him in to spend the rest of his life in prison like Dumbledore did for Grindelwald. I chose to end him."
"Neither can live while the other survives," Ginny whispered. "With everything that Tom did, Harry, with everything that he went through to make himself immortal… I think prison would have made it worse. Someone would have helped him escape, brought him back somehow, helped him increase his power."
"I know," he said. "I know that and I know that there was no other way. Just like I knew that once Nagini was gone, it didn't have to be me to end it, but I needed it to be me. I don't know if I'm proud of that. Look at Sebastian and the other MIA Aurors or Kingsley and Tonks… they're all powerful witches and wizards who could have taken him out countless times and yet no one did. They all expected me to do it because I went up against Voldemort at fifteen months old and won. I was the bloody Boy Who Lived and now, I'm the Man Who Defeated Voldemort, the Master of Death, The Chosen One, or whatever other name they're going to bestow upon me… I feel proud and yet ashamed of those titles, Gin."
Ginny moved out of her seat to sit sideways in his lap. "I get that. You took a life and I can't imagine what that does to you to think about that. It's not right, but it was right, Harry. You didn't have a choice and we both know that if someone else had stepped up and taken him out, you wouldn't be feeling that same sense of clarity and relief that you're feeling now. You've been looking over your shoulder half your life, waiting for him to come after you again. Knowing that it was your wand who brought an end to him once and for all is going to bring you peace. It has already, hasn't it?"
He nodded, pressing his face into the crook of her neck.
Ginny stroked his cheek. "You're going to be an Auror because you've always had this heroic mindset of helping people. Your Gryffindor spirit has always been strong like that and being an Auror means helping people, but it also means that sometimes in helping people, you might have to make tough choices. Sometimes the bad wizards won't come quietly, Harry, and sometimes they might be killed. Tom would never have let anyone take him to prison. He would have killed anyone who tried. Death was the only option for a wizard like him. Harry, you saved the world."
He sighed into her neck. "So people keep telling me."
She smiled, her hand still stroking his cheek. "You are a bonafide hero, Harry James Potter. You even got the girl."
"Which girl?" he asked, his eyes meeting hers with a twinkle. She pinched his hip and he grinned. "I love you, Ginny Weasley."
"I love you, too," she told him, her eyes fierce as they stared into his. "I love you and I am so proud of you and grateful to you for what you did out there. You saved the world and I know that you don't like that kind of attention and praise, but you did. You're powerful and that raw power, the abilities you exuded that day… Harry, that's why you were the right man for the job. Yes, it was all about a prophecy and he's been hunting you for years, but in the end, it was about you and him and who had the bigger wand."
He smirked. "Ginny, we both know that's me."
Her fingers brushed through his hair as she smiled. "Figuratively, Harry. Tom may have been filled with dark magic and had studied it for years, he may have been a very powerful wizard who had murdered hundreds of people, but in the end, you were more powerful than him."
"It was luck," he began.
Ginny shook her head. "No, it wasn't. Harry, when you broke through that spell without your wand, he was scared. You have power that he can't imagine. He knew you had power and that was why he wanted to take it from you. When you stopped him from taking it, he was not only scared, but he was angry. He couldn't understand why you have this raw power that he could never tap into."
"Raw power makes it seem kind of unreal. It's just magic, Gin. My magic."
"And it's powerful," she told him. "You are a powerful wizard, Harry. It's going to make you an amazing Auror. Trust me on this."
He smiled. "I trust you with my life."
She pressed her lips to his cheek. "Is it the lack of bad dreams that's bothering you the most?"
Harry licked his lips, his hands still sitting on her hips. "It's just weird. You think after killing someone, it would… haunt me more."
"No," she whispered. "Not like this. You took a life and that will always bother you on some level because you're an amazing man with a kind heart and soul, but it won't haunt you because it was self defence. Voldemort was going to kill you, Harry. Tom was going to murder you without hesitation. He tried and failed over and over again to take your life from you. In the end, you taking his was the only way it could possibly end."
Harry let his fingers glide up her back, fiddling with the string of her bikini top. "I know."
Ginny brushed her mouth over his cheek. "Do you?"
He nodded against her mouth, his finger dragging under the string and around to flick under the triangle of material covering her tit. "I would do it again in a heartbeat if it meant protecting you, protecting those that I love. That's why I'm fine, Gin. I know it was the right choice in the end."
Fingers tugged at the strings at her neck and the bikini top fell down to the floor.
"I'm fine, too," she whispered against his lips.
Harry's hands cupped her naked breasts. "You are very bloody fine, Ginny Weasley. So fucking peng it makes my head spin." Then he bent his head and took one of those tantalizing peaks into his mouth.
Ginny let her head fall back as he played with her breast, her fingers threading through his soft hair. "Mmm, are we done talking?"
Harry dragged his tongue over her nipple before his green eyes met hers. "Is there something else you want to add?"
She cupped his face in her hands, her dark gaze on his. "No. I know if you need to talk more you'll tell me, right?"
"Always," he whispered.
Ginny pressed her lips to his and he reached behind her, shoving his plate and wine glass down the table before he lifted her hips and sat her on the table in front of him. Ginny let out a tiny squeak that made his grin flash.
"You promised me dessert."
She started to comment, but he spread her legs and ran his fingers up over her bikini bottom, making her swallow. "Harry…"
He untied the sarong at her hip, opening it wide before he let his fingers play with the tiny strings holding up the scrap of material that covered her. She lifted her hips to help him pull them down and when they fell on the floor, he took a moment to just look at her.
Her long red hair was still damp from the pool as it fell over her shoulders, brushing her taut nipples. Her breasts were pimpled in goosebumps and when he teased his knuckles down her abdomen, she shivered. He let his eyes roam over her, admiring the freckles that adorned her pale skin and lower to the triangle of red hair that was so neatly kept between her legs. He licked his lips.
"Lie back," he ordered.
Ginny bit her bottom lip, but did as he said, leaning back on her elbows as he leaned forward in his chair, pressing soft kisses to her thighs. The first swipe of his tongue had her moaning softly.
He could taste the salt water from the pool on her, but mostly he tasted Ginny. He let his tongue dance and glide, stroking and flicking, thrusting and licking her thoroughly as he moaned into her. This was what he wanted. He wanted to have these moments with her. He wanted to taste her and make love with her until they were both too weak to move and then he wanted to go to sleep and to do it all over again.
He loved that he could talk to her. She understood him unlike anyone else. She knew when he needed to talk, what he needed to hear, and she knew when he didn't want to talk anymore without question. She never pushed. She never tried to get him to say more than he wanted and he loved that about her.
Ginny had a way of making him feel like everything was going to be okay and for the first time in his life, it was going to be. He was here, alone in a beautiful home in Barbados with the woman he loved. They'd spent the day swimming and laughing and talking about all of the big things that had happened since the Battle of Hogwarts, to catch each other up on these big life events they hadn't been able to properly process yet. And now, he had the woman he loved spread across the kitchen table like she was his dessert.
And he had every intention of eating her with gusto.
By the time she came, Harry had shoved his glasses up into his hair to prevent them from fogging. Her fingers, which had ended up in his hair, slowly disentangled and he winced slightly at the pain in his scalp he hadn't even felt until now. He licked his lips, tasting her there as he moved his lips up her abdomen and rising to kiss her breasts.
"Delicious," he murmured, licking her nipple.
Ginny's cheeks were flushed as she leaned forward to kiss him. "Mmm, food, snogging, and an orgasm, you do deliver, Mr Potter."
He grinned and pecked her lips again. "That I do, Miss Weasley."
He stood up, wrapping her legs around his waist as he did and carrying her into living room. He dropped her onto the sofa before he shoved his own bathing trunks down, reaching down to give himself a long stroke as her eyes watched him.
"I need to be inside of you."
Ginny's brown eyes were dark as she reached for him. He hovered over her, his lips against her throat, and when her legs parted for him, he slid home. The feel of her so tight and wet around him was almost too much for him to handle. They hadn't made love in weeks, not since before the Battle of Hogwarts, and now, being inside of her like this, being home… it was more than he could bear.
He squeezed his eyes closed as he began to move.
"Fuck, Gin… I'm not going to last long."
Ginny sucked on his earlobe. "Take what you need. Take me, Harry."
He moaned and picked his pace as she met him thrust for thrust. When he finished, he made a strangled grunt and her nails traced down his back as he collapsed on top of her. Neither of them spoke, the room full of their ragged breathing. When Harry finally lifted his head to look at her, she smiled and he brushed his lips over hers.
"You didn't come."
Ginny kissed him again. "I did. On the kitchen table."
He shifted, his cock slipping out of her as his fingers danced down her abdomen. "Didn't count."
When they slid into her, her eyes widened as her hips arched towards him. He leaned forward to kiss her breast, his tongue licking and twisting as his fingers worked and when she felt herself getting close, he lifted her up the couch and finished her off with his mouth.
She moaned his name and he kissed his way back up her body, a satisfied smirk on his face.
Ginny sighed in contentment. "Mmm, so good."
He grinned and kissed her softly. "We should probably have a little nap before we clean up the mess in the kitchen."
His eyes were already feeling heavy and when he snuggled his face into her breasts, his arms wrapped around her, he felt her smile. Her fingers threaded through his hair again and he fell asleep wrapped around her, a smile on his face.
~ ASC ~
Not only had Agent Cook sent word when they returned to Byron Bay, but so had the Muggle police. Ron and Hermione had immediately headed to the police station in Brisbane to talk to the officer who had been coordinating with Agent Cook, a Constable Chad Bell. He greeted them with a firm handshake and gestured for them to sit.
Constable Bell explained that Monica and Wendall Wilkins had returned late last night from a trip to New Zealand. They were home now and planned to be for the day.
"Cook says that the Wilkins are rellies of yours?"
"Yes," Hermione said. "We've been searching for them. Thank you so much for your assistance."
"No worries," he said. "If I can help you folks with anything else, you let me know."
Hermione thanked him again before she and Ron decided to take a taxi car to the house in Brisbane. The sight of the sweet house with blue siding made her heart race in her chest, but the feel of Ron's hand in hers gave her the boost she needed.
They walked up the path together and Hermione knocked on the door. Jean Granger opened it. Her brown hair was cut short in a sassy bob that suited her. She had a nice golden tan and her eyes looked at them curiously.
"Hello, can I help you?"
Hermione swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. Gods, she hadn't even considered what she was going to say when they opened the door. She heard Ron mutter something behind her and a moment later, he pulled a wrapped plate out from behind her back.
"Hi! I'm Ron, and this my girlfriend, Hermione. We just moved into the neighbourhood and wanted to introduce ourselves. I made some chocolate biscuits and thought we'd drop them off and say hello to the neighbours who might be home."
"Oh," Jean exclaimed, her eyes softening. "How kind! I'm Monica. Would you like to come in for a drink?"
"That would be lovely," Hermione said, giving Ron a grateful look.
Jean stepped aside for them to enter and urged them to follow her outside to the back where a patio was located. "Have a seat. I'll find my husband. Does wine sound all right or would you prefer tea?"
"Wine would be lovely," Hermione said. "Thank you." The moment she was gone, Hermione grabbed his hand.
"I know," he said, kissing her fingers. "Just relax. We've got this."
She nodded. It was only a moment before Greg Granger stepped outside. His salt and pepper hair just as curly as ever and in need of a trim. He gave them a polite smile.
"Hello, my wife tells me that you've just moved to the neighbourhood and brought over some chocolate biscuits. I've a weakness for those," he admitted, patting the smidge of a belly under his shirt. "I'm Wendall."
"Ron," Ron said, accepting the man's hand. "This is Hermione."
Greg took a seat and helped himself to a biscuit as Ron did the same. Jean came out a moment later with a tray containing four wine glasses and a bottle of merlot.
"So, what brings you to this neighbourhood?" Greg asked. "You two look a little young to be home owners?"
"We get that a lot," Hermione told him. "I took a job here in Brisbane and we fell in love with the house. Have you lived here long?"
"A year," Greg said. "We came for a second honeymoon and never left."
Jean chuckled and took his hand in hers. "Sometimes it feels like we should leave, but we don't."
"It's lovely here," Ron told them.
"Mu-Monica," Hermione corrected herself, her cheeks flushing. "I hate to impose, but any chance you would mind making that tea after all?"
"Of course not!" Monica exclaimed, hopping to her feet.
"I'll help," Hermione offered, standing as well. "And you can tell me how you managed to get such beautiful roses on the trellis there."
Jean beamed and began to talk about finding the right seeds as Hermione followed her into the house. She could see the familiar touches around the living room and the kitchen. The Marvel comic book on the table made her ache for her father and the worn copy of Pride and Prejudice sitting on the shelf made her pause.
These were still very much her parents.
She half-listened to her mother talk about the roses and when she turned her back, she gripped her wand and pointed it.
It wasn't just the words she needed to say. Hermione had to focus entirely on every false memory she had implemented and slowly work to eradicate them from the mind before her, restoring her mother's mind to what it had been without destroying the year in disguise at the same time. It was a complicated bit of magic that Hermione knew she could perform with confidence despite the sweaty palms and pounding of her heart.
Jean froze. Her eyes widened and her cheeks hollowed as if she had swallowed something sour. She gasped rather loudly before she blinked and fell back into the counter, knocking over the tea cup and shattering it onto the ground. Hermione's bottom lip trembled as those eyes finally met hers and all of the colour drained from Jean's face.
Jean scowled. "That's mum to you, Hermione Granger!"
Relief sagged through her. "Mum…"
Jean moved across the room and pulled her into her arms. "Oh, Hermione! Dear, I feel like I haven't seen you in ages! Look at you! You look like you've grown up overnight! Where have you… Australia…" she trailed off as her eyes widened. "You changed my memory."
Tears rolled down Hermione's cheeks as she nodded. "I'm sorry, Mum, I had to! I had to protect you and Dad."
"You had to protect… you had no right," Jean exclaimed, her eyes darkening. "How long?"
"A year," she whispered. "Give or take."
Jean stepped away from her, her eyes moving to the patio where Greg and Ron were chatting. "Greg… Wendall… bring him back."
Hermione nodded, her bottom lip trembling as she tried to fight back her tears. "Can you ask him to come inside?"
Jean did and a moment later Greg came in with Ron behind him. When Hermione pointed her wand at him, he blinked in surprise, but then he too froze as his memory began to restore itself. When she was finished, he blinked owlishly before he took in Ron's form and then fell on his daughter.
"Daddy," she whispered, letting herself become engulfed in his warm embrace.
"Oh, Jellybean, I've missed you. It's been ages! Have you been too busy up at that magical school to come visit your old mum and dad?"
"Greg," Jean said, her voice icy. "What do you remember?"
"Remember?" he asked, his eyes dazed before it seemed to knock him back and he frowned. "Remember… Hermione… what did you do?"
Ron put his arm around Hermione's waist, holding her against his side. "She protected you. We've spent the last year trying to finish school while a war happened. There was a huge battle right at Hogwarts and… it's finally over."
Greg's eyes were wide as he fell into the kitchen chair, his hands moving to his hair. "A war… we told you that we wouldn't run away."
"I know," Hermione whispered. "But you wouldn't listen and I had to… Dad, they would have hurt you!"
"Removing our memories, Hermione? You should have trusted us to make the right decision. If you had told us how bad it was —"
"—I tried!" Hermione exclaimed. "Merlin, I tried over and over again! I asked you to go into hiding, to move in with one of the magical families who could protect you and you wouldn't listen! There were Death Eaters near your work. I couldn't… it was the only way."
Jean pursed her lips. "I know you did this out of love, Hermione. I know that this is what you think was the right choice, but it wasn't. You used magic on us against our will! You took our memories of you! You sent us to bloody Australia!"
"You said that you'd always wanted to go," she whispered, tears on her lashes.
"Just because we said that we wanted to go didn't mean we wanted to move here under false pretences," Jean fumed.
"Mum, it was like… it was like a witness protection program. I just wanted to keep you safe."
"And what if something had happened to you, Hermione?" Jean demanded. "Then what would have become of us?"
"You would have lived your life here," she whispered. "And never known I existed."
Greg made a strangled sound before he stormed out of his chair. "Never knew you… you are our bloody daughter, Hermione Jean Granger. My daughter! I would rather die a thousand deaths than live a life where I didn't know you bloody-well existed, do you understand that? Do you understand what you took from us by doing this?"
Tears rained down Hermione's cheeks as Ron's arm kept her steady. "Yes. I'm sorry. I know that's not enough! I know it's not going to make up for any of it, but I'm sorry, Mum, Dad. I only wanted to keep you safe. I love you both so much and I… I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
The last word came out on a sob and Greg's eyes softened. He reached for his daughter at the same time that Jean did and Ron stepped back to let the three of them engulf each other in a hug and cry.
The Grangers were back.
End Authors Notes:
A very big thank you to Bellmel for helping me with my Australian.
It was fun to talk ideas over about what the Australian Ministry of Magic would look like and where and how it is, what their Ministry uniforms are like, and of course, making up some new magical places in the country. Thank you!
PS — winter in Australia is our summer, I was as surprised as Ron LOL!
COMA — Cabinet of Magical Affairs (Australian Ministry of Magic)
Mugs — my word choice for the Australian version of Muggles
Straya Bus — Australian version of the Knight Bus
Ubiquitous Place — my own personal fictional magical town in Australia, it sounded fun 😉
(Latin) Reparo memoria = repair memory (invented by me)
The next chapter covers more of the Grangers trying to come to terms with Hermione's choice and Hinny's Barbados holiday.
Thank you for reading and please review!