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Sorry it's late being posted but... Life. You know? Let's jump in as a lot will be happening!
*Beginning with Hermione*
Hermione was in her office at the Ministry for the Department of Liberated and Employed Magical Beings. She was going over the recent tax on wages for the employed House Elves. It was shortly after ten in the morning when she heard Neville greeting her assistant. He was in a very good mood too. Everyone wondered what great thing had happened and Hermione was determined to find out. She happily greet him when he entered her office with a hug.
He hugged her tightly and lifted her off of her feet for a second. He put her back down and smiled.
"You're certainly in a chipper mood today," she observed.
"I am," he replied euphorically. "Last night, I asked Hannah to become exclusive and she said yes! It's been an incredible morning. First time I've had one like this in the past year!"
"Well, congratulations. It's about time the two of you have done that. I am happy for you."
"Thank you, 'Mione," he said happily.
Hermione then remembered she had the letter for him from Daphne Greengrass and fished it out from her bag. She hoped whatever it was was pleasant and would not ruin Neville's mood. She managed to cut herself off mid thought and turned to him and held out the parchment. Neville looked at her curiously.
"What's that?" he asked curiously.
Hermione shrugged. "This was given to Harry. I told him I would to pass it along to you since we've been working together lately. I do not know what it's in regards to. Only who it is from," she answered.
He looked the crest pressed into the wax seal and shot Hermione a concerned look. "Daphne Greengrass? What does she want with me?" he asked and then looked almost alarmed. "Wait... she was recently seen talking to Harry at Gringott's. What the bloody hell has he gotten me into?"
Hermione shrugged. "The most I know is that she asked Harry to meet with her just to have him pass this along to you. According to he told me, she said she hasn't been able to get in touch with you through any form of contact."
"Are you certain that Harry doesn't know why? Everyone seems to always tell him everything. No matter who it is. They always have even back in school. Him not knowing why is incredibly difficult for me to believe. Just as difficult as it was when everyone thought you were dating Ron."
Hermione tried to hide her grimace before taking a quick breath while never looking away from Neville. "I asked and he told me that was everything. Harry can't lie to or keep anything from me and you know that. That is all he told me," she replied.
Neville nodded and exhaled. "Alright. Well, would it be alright if I retired early so I can read this and tend to this potential business I have?" he asked anxiously.
"Oh of course, Neville. That will be fine. We can manage without you. Go on and good luck" she answered.
He put the rolled p parchment in his bag and put the strap around his shoulder. When he turned around to bid Hermione farewell, he noticed something square shaped landed on the floor that had slipped out of the parchment. He knelt down to pick it up. He turned it over in his hand to see that it was the picture of Daphne's baby, Tiara. Hermione grew concerned when when Neville's eyes went wide and he stumbled back into one of the chairs in the room. She immediately cast a silencing ward around her office when his hand that was holding the picture, began to shake.
Neville's eyes grew wide and his breath grew shaky as he watched the infant in the picture turn her head to him again and again. He turned and looked at Hermione and held the picture to her. Her posture stiffened when she saw the image. He stepped towards her two more times. After the second step, he shoved the picture closer to her face.
"Did... you... know... about this?" he demanded to know.
"I didn't, Neville. I swear. I'm seeing this for the first time too. Harry said she made him promise to tell no one."
Neville began to cry. "I have a daughter with Daphne! Why didn't I keep in touch with her? Oh Merlin! I'm terrible!"
Hermione did her best to comfort him while he cried. "I... I have.. a... a daughter," he continued to stammer. "That bastard knew. Harry, that... that bastard! He... he had to have known. Known the whole bloody time! That's why... that's why he hides," he continued and crumpled the picture of Tiara in his hand.
"He should have told me that bastard!" he shouted and slammed his fist on the coffee table. "I'm going right now and giving her a piece of my mind. She could have gone to the Ministry and figured out how to find me. I'll go to the Prophet about this too!"
With how irrational he was being and unsure whether or not he was being serious, Hermione felt she was left with no other choice but to do what she was about to do. She took her wand off of her desk and sighed once more. She then pointed her wand at Neville, focused and whispered, "Obliviate." Neville instantly became silent and still. Not another sound was made by him as he sat and stared at nothing. She picked up the crumpled picture and used the Reparo charm on the picture to make it perfect again before slipping it inside the rolled up parchment.
She let out a long sigh. There was no doubt that what she did was best for everyone. If there was a reason she didn't want Harry to tell Neville, then it needed to be respected. Also, Neville was never someone to make idol threats. He would follow through and that would drag too many people into it. The last thing everyone needed was Rita Skeeter hiding everywhere trying to get the scoop on a Pure Blood baby scandal. She wouldn't have obliviated him if it hadn't been necessary. Her attention went back to Neville when he began to stir.
Neville suddenly came to and looked at her confused. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I forgot what we were in the middle of discussing."
"That's alright, Neville. You got overly nervous and fainted after I gave you that parchment from Daphne Greengrass. You were getting ready to leave to read the parchment in private and tend to it when your anxiety overwhelmed you. If you're feeling well enough now, go ahead and clear off for the day. Good luck and please, don't be too nervous."
"Thank you," he said and hugged her.
As soon as he apparated out of her office, Hermione collapsed and pinched the bridge of her nose. She hated herself for lying to and Obliviating him. Then she reasoned with herself once again that it had to be done. After composing herself and removing the silencing ward, her thoughts returned to Harry. What would happen if she told him what happened with the picture?
All thoughts of the incident that just occurred disappeared when her attention was taken by her calendar. She realized what the next days date was going to be. She sat thoughtfully and wanted to do something special. Then a plan formulated. She stepped out of her office and tapped her assistant on the shoulder. The dark haired girl turned to her and smiled while she continued to wipe the stone on her engagement ring with a cloth.
"Romilda, could you please send a memo out for me? Let everyone know that I will be leaving the office early today and will finish my reports at home. Also note that I will be back on Monday and will only be able to be contacted via an owl," Hermione requested.
Romilda Vane placed her hand on her chest while giving her an overly exaggerated look of shock and awe. "Did I hear you right? Hermione Granger, is leaving the office early for a change?"
Hermione grinned. "Oh, go curse a frog, Vane," she joked back.
"Hey," Romilda shouted and pointed her finger at Hermione with a stern look. "I know I'm marrying George Weasley, but I did not have to curse him. He only looks like a frog when he's frustrated about something or when Percy gets brought up," she finished and started laughing.
Hermione laughed too and shook her head. "Have the two of you set your own date yet or will you be staying with the plan of having a double wedding with Fred and Angelina?"
Romilda shrugged. "George wants to do everything that Fred does. It's fine though, it will still be a big wedding like I want. Oh and before I forget, this is for you," she said and handed Hermione an invitation.
"I'm touched, Romilda. However, I'm already a part of the wedding party. I'm one of Angelina's bridesmaids."
Romilda leaned closer and nearly whispered, "That's one of the special invitations with an exclusive invite to the non Burrow after wedding party we're having."
"Oh," Hermione replied with understanding. "Then I'll be sure to hang onto this."
As Hermione was walking away and sliding the envelope into her bag, Romilda got her attention one more time. "When will we be getting one of these from you and Harry?"
Hermione's head dropped. "It looks as if we're destined to only be friends and nothing more."
Romilda snorted. "And Luna Lovegood doesn't believe in invisible, non-existent creatures and Fred and George hate what they do," she said sarcastically.
A thought then came to Hermione's mind. "Romilda, can you ask George and Fred something for me?"
The next morning*
Hermione had been up all night at Harry's flat and writing out her plan on a piece of parchment while nervously checking the clock every half hour because Harry didn't come home. Suddenly she heard an apparating pop outside the front door. Knowing who it was, she quickly put it away and waited for Harry to come in. When he came through the door, he looked as if he was in a complete daze. After he kicked off his flip-flops he plopped down into the nearest chair. Hermione rushed over to his side.
Her concern grew stronger when he didn't acknowledge her even though she was in his direct line of site. She got up and made her way to where he was sitting. She made sure the sound of her bare feet and toe ring echoed off of the linoleum so that he would know she was approaching him. He didn't move when she touched his arm. He remained staring at the wall. She sat in front of him and gave him a shake.
"Where were you?" she asked concerned. "I have been worried sick! Harry James Potter, answer me damn it!"
He shook his head as he came to. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be gone all night. I was at my parents graves thinking and reflecting and writing a letter," he answered.
"Did things not go well at your meet up with Ron? You look as if he destroyed your magical core."
He slowly shook his head. "I was not at all expecting what Ron had to tell me. That was not a revelation I was expecting."
"What did he say? What happened, Harry?"
Harry took a deep breath. "You see, what had happened was..."
Harry walked up to the booth in the back of the Leaky Cauldron to find Ron anxiously waiting.
"Hello, Ron," he greeted with a flat tone.
"Hey," Ron replied sheepishly. "I'm glad you came. Truly I am."
"I'm here to listen to what you have to say," Harry said still flatly while he sat down and poured himself a glass of Fire Whiskey from the bottle on the table. "Now, will you please tell me what all of this nonsense from you has been? It obviously goes beyond me not wanting to get back together with your sister. Now out with it. What is your deal? Why have you been such an arse to me?"
Ron exhaled. "I took things way too personally in the after that happened. That is true. I did get all out of sorts when you started spending more time with Hermione than me. So soon after breaking Ginny's heart too."
"So what is it then? Are you that jealous because you always wanted her and I'm the one that is closer to her than anyone else? Especially you?" Harry asked bluntly.
Ron shook his head. "No mate. It wasn't like that. I'm going to be in honest for the first time in a long time. I never felt that way about Hermione, despite what you and others may have thought. It was never like that between her and I. I know that Hermione explained everything about that to you. She wasn't lying. So don't you ever come at me with that shit, ever again," he scolded and took a sip of his Fire Whiskey. After another deep breath, he continued.
"What got me so upset about the whole situation with you and Ginny was that I knew how you were going to handle things. You were going to not come around for a while because you wouldn't want to see or be around her because of how nasty things went. And I wouldn't be able to see you without you being awkward even if she wasn't with me. If I was going to get to see you at all,"
"Ron," Harry said with a chuckle and slapped his shoulder. "You should know I'd still always be your best mate and that we would still hang out and get passed that awkward phase. I just needed some space and time."
Ron nervously chuckled. "Yea. It was more than just that though. I was honestly afraid. Since you obviously would not be around the Burrow indefinitely or at any of Mum's family gatherings. I was surprised you came by St. Mungo's after Fleur had Victoire," he sighed and stuffed a couple of fries into his mouth. When he swallowed them he continued. "I was afraid you would and Hermione would get together and just go and move on with your lives. Being with her would have helped you detach and move on easier since she has no real attachment to us. That was the thought I was most upset about as it seemed the most likely thing to happen. It seemed like the most likely thing as you had already become a tad absent from my life," Ron stopped when he saw the look on Harry's face. It was obvious that Harry didn't fully believe what he was telling him. He finished his Fire Whiskey and poured himself more.
"What are you not telling me, Ron?" Harry asked with a hint of annoyance.
"It's true that Mum is out right pissed off at you and blames you for Ginny ending up with that sheep shagger, Cormack McLaggen, because you didn't take Ginny back. However, I didn't add gas to that fire. I didn't defend you either. I was mad because I had to see how hurt Ginny was and deal with that for months before I moved out. So I told mum what Ginny told me. That Cormack was her rebound and that you didn't give a shit that she moved on. I'm sorry, Harry. I was hurt and and I mentioned, worried about losing my friend," Ron further admitted and then quickly muttered something that Harry didn't quite make out.
Harry did a double take and looked at Ron unsure of what he had just heard. He was unable to hide his bewilderment. Ron blushed hard and looked down at his glass. He remained looking down when Harry leaned forward and asked, "Pardon?" Harry could tell Ron's heart was racing while he waited several minutes for an answer.
"Ron," Harry said loud enough that Ron flinched. "I heard about the way you feel? I came here for you to explain everything. Not mutter and and keep quiet. Now what the bloody hell did you say?"
Ron looked away again which caused Harry to pound his fist on the table.
"Stop evading the question! What the bloody hell did you say? Answer me right now or I'm leaving!"
Ron stood up, took Harry's face in his hands and kissed him on the lips with all of his emotions behind it. Harry quickly pushed Ron off of him after he jumped up out of the booth. He took a couple of more steps back and spit. He muttered and cursed as he tried to process what had just happened. After he repeatedly wiped his lips with the backs of both of his hands, he stared at Ron in surprise.
"Bloody hell, Ron?"
Ron looked up at him with a hint of both sadness and hurt in his eyes. "I thought you had figured it out by now,Harry."
"Not even an incline," Harry responded with disbelief still in his voice.
"Well there it is. The real reason I was so afraid. I realized during sixth year how I have always felt about you. Always knew that it would chase you away. So I pushed you away instead so that I wouldn't lose my best mate because I am in love with him even though he would never feel the same," Ron admitted and started crying. "Just go. I know you want nothing to do with me now. Just go!"
Harry took another moment to take a couple of sips of his Fire Whiskey before looking at Ron and putting a hand on his shoulder. "Listen, Ron. Despite everything that has happened. You're still my best friend. I'll always love you mate. Just not in that way. The only thing changing is who you'd bring on a date. That's manageable."
"I'm sorry, Harry. I'm gonna leave now. I love you," Ron said and left Harry standing alone in the pub.
Hermione hugged Harry as soon as he finished telling her about that. She took notice that he had a look that showed he was suspicious about something. She looked at him and cocked her head sideways. He frowned and leaned forward in his chair. The look he gave made her uneasy.
"What is it, Harry?"
He pointed at her. "You knew all along didn't you? Since the Horcrux hunt? That's what he confided in you isn't it? That's why you latched onto him in the way that made everyone think you were dating him?" he asked accusingly.
Hermione sighed and then took a deep, calming breath. Her exhale was a accompanied with another sigh of relief. She sat down on the ottoman in front of Harry and took his hands in hers as she looked into his eyes.
"Yes I did,"she confessed. "Before you ask or I continue further, You must know that Ron made me make an Unbreakable Oath that unless I was discussing it with him, I wouldn't say anything or tell anyone until he came out to you or his family. I have wanted to tell you everything for the longest time. Now I can," she finished and Harry was taken aback.
"I figured it out in the summer of our sixth year after I went to the Burrow. When we received word you were arriving, he seemed to almost float away and kept talking about it and counted down the days. One morning Ginny made a joke about him acting like he was in love with you and he stormed out of the room. I followed him and as soon as we were alone, he vented about Ginny picking on him about it. He asked why it was so bad that he was excited you were coming.
'When he asked me why I seemed skeptical about his claims that he was just excited that you were coming. I made the comment, 'Lately it does seem like you have a crush Harry. The manner in which you talk about him lately and marking down on your calendar gives off that impression.' He looked stunned at first and then he cried and asked me how long I had known. How did I figure out he's gay? Then in the heat of the moment, he made me make the Unbreakable Oath. He was terrified his family would find out so I had to help him hide it. Unsure of what to do in that moment, I made it. During the Horcrux hunt, this and everything else, overwhelmed him. Leading to him latching onto me and everything I told you a year ago in the Room of Requirement. He wasn't being fragile, he was just so confused and depressed. He really felt like I was the only person who understood."
Harry took a deep breath and shook his head. "Then what was all that that he had being, well, rather involved with Lavender. And what was with him calling out to you after I saved him from the poisoned mead?"
"I asked him about that the day before we came and got you when we all turned into you," she began and squeezed his hands. "He admitted he stole love potions from Fred and Georges shop, took a hair off of the one of the tables Lavender and I shared in Ancient Runes and used the love potion on himself because he couldn't stand knowing he was going to disgrace his family and how he thought he would be treated for being gay. Obviously, we saw who's hair it turned out to be," she sighed and took a deep breath. "The reason he called out to me the day after the poison mead was because he didn't see you and was able to make me out before Lavender. That was it."
Harry looked away before she let go of one hand and turned his face to her. She peered into his emerald and in a firm manner. "I swear, I wanted to tell you that Ron was in love with you. I never thought he'd ever have acted on it though in any situation," she further confessed and waited another moment and looked Harry over. "He does have good taste though. If I do say so myself," she added with a raise of her eyebrows.
Harry chuckled but still took some time to process everything. After some silence, he squeezed her hands. "I'm sorry I was so aggressive when I asked. But thank you for being honest. I'm glad you made the loophole in the Oath. Thank you," he said and hugged her.
She returned his hug and confessed something else in his ear. "It's alright, Harry. I know how confusing a situation like that can be. I felt the same way as you and just as awkward when Luna kissed me a year ago."
Harry was taken aback once again and his mouth agape. "What? You never told me about that!"
Hermione blushed. "It was after you disappeared to this flat and before you reached out to tell me you came here. It really wasn't a big deal by the time we started spending time together again. I explained to her that I was honored that I was the one she chose to come out to but that I don't like girls. She's doing alright now though. She was really quick to accept it and is with someone now," she said and smiled. "However, today is a special day and I have a couple of surprises for you. The big surprise will be later tonight."
"Surprises?" he asked anxiously.
"It will be fine, Harry," she reassured. "It's nothing that will bring attention from the Daily Prophet."
He grabbed her shoulder. "I need to tell you something right quick."
Hermione gave him her full attention. "I wrote something while I was at my parents graves. Can you send an owl for me?" he asked and handed her a rolled up parchment."It's my answer to Kingsley. I am officially telling him no. I have a plan now and know what I want to do."
Hermione hugged him tighter than ever before. "That is amazing news! I am so proud of you. You are taking control of your life and on the best day to do so. I will go and send this right now. You enjoy the first part of your special day," she said and took the rolled up parchment.
Suddenly a female voice came from the parlor. "Wocher, Harry."
He turned around to see the familiar Metamorphagus he hadn't seen since before the Battle of Hogwarts. He turned around surprised and looked back at Hermione. "What is Tonks doing here?"
"She's the first part of your special day. The first surprise," she answered with a raise of her eyebrows and a vindictive smile. "I have a letter to send and more to get done. I'll be back later to get you for the next part," she said and kissed him on the cheek before leaving the room. Grateful he had not asked about what happened when Neville got the letter from Daphne.
Harry turned to Tonks and her haired turned orange. "I hope you're ready a good time. I'm about to make you feel really good."