Taren

Disclaimer: Not mine, wish it was, but JKR gets all the credit for these characters, and the story idea belongs to "kateydidnt".  All mistakes are mine and I assure you they are intentional, cause I don't make mistakes. J

Thank you: To Kate for letting me write this.  For doing all the hard work and still letting me play with her story.

The Weasley Reaction

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Looking over the battlefield Ron wanted desperately to apparate home and let Hermione know about the revelation of Harry's innocence.  Hell he had to let the whole family know about this, but duty came first.  There were stunned Death Eaters to be sent to prison cells and wounded order members to be taken care of.  Still he couldn't get Harry's actions out of his mind.  Harry killed Voldemort.  Harry the man they betrayed, that they sent to Azkaban, had killed Voldemort.

Ron's thoughts drifted back remembering his family's reaction to the news that Harry had killed Hagrid.  It had hit the entire family hard.  His mum had gone into shock, unbelieving that someone who was 'family' as she considered Harry, could be a dark wizard.  His father had spent most of the day comforting his wife, until she cried herself to sleep.  After which he could be found in his shed aimlessly sorting his plug collection.  

Yes it had hit his parents hard, but Ginny was the worst off.  Her and Harry had just begun dating and this absolutely crushed her.  At first she refused to believe he was capable of this.  He saved people, he doesn't hurt and kill them.  Hagrid least of all he loved Hagrid.  But with Dumbledore confirming that Harry did indeed murder Hagrid she completely collapsed.  He hadn't realized his sister felt that deeply for Harry, after all she was only fourteen, but her reaction made her feelings abundantly clear.  She couldn't even bring herself to attend the trial, afraid to look at his face and see what he had become. 

Yes his family had been hurt, but not nearly as much as Harry.  10 years in Azkaban.  Ron shuddered.  Harry couldn't even handle a dementor for a minute imagining 10 years… Ron thought he was going to be sick. 

Ron returned to the present, if he could round up these death eaters quickly he could get home and contact everyone.  Bill and Charlie wouldn't have to be told.  He could see them rounding up stunned death eaters just down from him.  From there expressions it looked like they were hoping one of them would twitch so that they had a reason to fire off a curse. 

Hermione…Hermione wasn't going to take this well at all.  While she hadn't testified against Harry, she had not said a word in his defense believing Dumbledore over her best friend.  He knew that still weighed on her, even after all these years, and although she had wanted to believe Harry was innocent the sheer volume of evidence had persuaded her.  No not well at all.

There that looked like the last of them.  He waved at Bill to let him know he was off and headed towards Hogsmead and the apparition point.

~~~~**~~~~

Hermione was home.  The battle had ended, and the order members were cleaning up the battlefield.  While aware that the battle was a success and Voldemort was gone she hadn't gotten any details.  Sometimes Tactical Command sucked.  You set up the battles co-ordinate and plan everything.  But in the end you are always the last to get details.  At least she could count on Ron filling her in.  His elaborate play by play descriptions of battles were always highly informative. Although, she sniggered to herself, sometimes more elaborate than informative.  I mean who needed to know that the last death eater he stunned had jam on the front of his robes, or that the giant that attacked him had the worst breath in England.  She had wished before that Ron would step back and leave the battles to the aurors and the Order.  He was the official liason between the ministry and the order, he should not be on the front lines.  Now that you know who was gone (hopefully for good) perhaps Ron would step away from the active fighting and let others round up whatever death eaters were still around.

She set about preparing supper for them.  Her husband was always starving when he got home.  

~~~~**~~~~

Ginny was relaxing after another grueling quidditch practice.  The Cannons coach was certainly making them put their best into everything they did.  But you could expect no less from Alicia Weasley.  The woman practically ate slept and breathed quidditch.  Justin would be over soon and she had to get ready, they were going out for supper again.  She suspected one of these times he would get up the nerve to ask her.  She'd found the ring in his sock drawer a month ago and had been waiting anxiously ever since.  Where were they going tonight?  The Rainbow Bridge… no that was last time this time they were off to the Starlight Dream.  Justin always picked the best restaurants, and why not they could afford them, well once in a while anyways.  She reasoned.

"Ginny are you there" Came Ron's voice from the living room fireplace breaking into Ginny's thoughts.

"Yes, just a minute, I'm getting dressed" Ginny shouted back. 

"What is it? I don't have a lot of time before Justin arrives." Said Ginny as she walked into the room while smoothing the front of her dress.

"Gin you might have to put off your dinner with Justin.  I have some important news, and the whole family should be here to hear it."

"But I can't just stand up Justin, we've been planning this for a month.  You know how difficult it is to get a table at the Starlight Dream.  Not to mention working around both of our schedules"

Ron's expression darkened

"Gin it's important.  Bring him along if you want, but be here soon.  You will want to here what I have say." 

Ginny looked up sharply at Ron's sudden change in tone, and flinched when she saw his expression.

"Alright I'll be over as soon as Justin arrives."

"Good, see you soon" and with a pop he was gone.

Ginny sat wringing her hands wondering what could be so bad that Ron would act like this.  Last time she had seen that expression was when the Order asked him to retrieve Potter from Azkaban.  Making a decision she wrote a quick note to Justin asking him to meet her at Ron and Hermione's saying she would explain there.

Tacking the note to the door she apparated out.

~~~~**~~~~

Ron was right Hermione wasn't taking this well.  Her expression had gone steely blank at the first mention of Harry, and as he progressed further she had only gotten stiffer.  When he got to Dumbledore proclaiming Harry innocent she just shattered.  There was no other word for it she came apart weeping and sobbing she clung to Ron like a lifeline.  After crying herself out she pulled away.

"Ron is he really innocent, did we really let him go to Azkaban for something he didn't do?"

"I'm afraid so.  I was there when Dumbledore was explaining to Remus how Peter used a polyjuice potion to imitate Harry."

"But what about the map, and Harry's wand?"

"Peter helped make the map remember, he knew how to fool it.  As for his wand, they likely stole it when they kidnapped him and dumped him in the forbidden forest.  Harry never goes into the forbidden forest, yet he was apprehended at the edge of the forest.  So many clues, yet I missed them all."

"I missed them to Ron, I really should have tried harder."  Shaking her head  "We put so much effort into saving Hagrid and Buckbeak, but we hardly spent two hours debating Harry's guilt."

"We betrayed him Ron"

"I know.  I know, and I don't know how to make it up to him.  I don't even think we can after all he's done for us."

"I know…   Wait what do you mean all he's done?"  Hermione's mind clicked.  "Did he do something during the battle, I saw him on the command map, but you know I don't get any details, just names and locations?"

"Herm, I'll explain this in a bit, but I want everyone here when I do.  Bill and Charlie might have seen or heard something I missed.  Besides I only want to explain this once."  Ron said as he rubbed a stray tear off her cheek.

Wiping her tear filled eyes Hermione mumbled "Why don't you call everyone while I get cleaned up"

"Take your time."  Replied Ron as he approached the fireplace.

~~~~**~~~~

"Mum, Dad Anyone home?"  Shouted Ron from the fireplace.

"Right here dear." Replied his mother from the sofa.

"Right oh didn't see you for a minute, sorry.  Umm. Mum could you and dad pop over here for a bit.  I have some news, and I want everyone to hear it at the same time"

Molly's eye's started to twinkle, "Oh does this have something to do with Hermione, am I going to be a Grandmother again"

Looking up from her knitting she saw his expression for the first time and the twinkle faded immediately.

"No.  Nothing like that.  It isn't about me or Hermione, but it's very important.  If dad's at work he's likely heard about it already.  Look just show up here as soon as dad gets back.  I still have to get a hold of Fred and George."

"I'll be over as soon as your father gets home."  Agreed Molly

With a nod and quick "pop" Ron was gone leaving Molly to wonder what the problem could possibly be. 

Looking at the clock she could see that all her children were safe, and Arthur's hand was moving from traveling to home. 

~~~~**~~~~

Ginny apparated in front of 12 Primrose Drive and rang the bell silently thanking Ron for choosing to live in Hogsmead rather than a muggle town like Percy.  Every time she visited Percy she had to walk a half mile from the apparition point

Hearing a shout from inside she opened the door and stepped in.

"Gin, Hi.  Hermione is upstairs why don't you go see her, I'm on the Flue with Percy and I'll be a minute." 

Ginny looked at Ron slightly annoyed.  All this rush to get over here and suddenly he acts like it's no big deal?  "Fine.  Upstairs you say"

Ron nodded and turned back to his conversation with Percy.

Ginny huffed and headed up the stairs.  "Hermione," she started then froze when she saw Hermione step out of the bathroom eyes still bright and cheeks red from crying.

Hermione looked up sharply upon hearing her name

"What… What happened."  asked Ginny fearing the worst.

"Oh Merlin Ginny."  Hermione broke out in sobs again "He didn't do anything and we did and he didn't and then they Azkaban, and IT'S ALL MY FAULT!"

Ginny pulled Hermione into a hug.  Not really understanding much of the last panicked comment.

"It's alright.  I'm sure it's not your fault, and we'll straighten everything out."

"But it is my fault, and what if we can't straighten this out.  What if he hates me?"  Sobbed Hermione into Ginny's shirt.

"No one hates you Hermione.  Everything will be fine, us Weasleys can fix any problem.  A good row and everything will be fine."

Hermione hiccupped "A row isn't going to fix it this time.  What I, we, did was horrible, reprehensible, unforgivable.  He must hate me, I hate me.  Merlin we sent him to Azkaban and he was innocent."

"What?  Sent who to Azkaban?"  Ginny's mind was working quickly piecing together all the bits of this conversation and the earlier one with Ron.  "Harry" she whispered.

"Gin, Justin is here you want to come down, the others should be arriving shortly" Shouted Ron.

Ginny nodded absently and still holding onto Hermione walked woodenly down the stairs to the living room.  Upon seeing Justin she dashed across the room throwing herself into his arms crushing the dozen roses between them. 

"Ginny I'm happy to see you as well.  But shouldn't we put the flowers in water or something?" Questioned a confused Justin.

Getting no response from Ginny he looked around the room.  Taking in Hermione's tear streaks, and Ron's pale complexion he turned his attention back to the woman he was hoping to make his fiancé. 

"Ginny… Gin… Please tell me what the problem is.  I can't help if you don't talk to me."

Ron cleared his throat.  "Please Justin just wait for everyone to arrive.  I'll explain everything then, it shouldn't be much longer, and then we can figure out what to do."

Justin stared at him for a moment before nodding and turning his attention back to Ginny.

~~~~**~~~~

Fred, George, Bill and Charlie arrived outside 12 Primrose Drive at almost the same time.  From Fred and George's somber expressions it was obvious they knew something about what was going to happen.  But then you would expect two of the ministries unspeakables to know all the secrets, and this wasn't so much a secret as just really new news.  Bill and Charlie were still covered in battlefield grime and paused a second to cast a quick cleaning charm while George rang the bell.  When Ron answered the door instead of shouting for them to come in they knew he was taking it hard.

Bill walked into the living room and observed that they were the last to arrive.  Taking a seat on the floor across from Justin and Ginny in the armchair and between his parents and Percy & Penelope he looked up waiting for Ron to begin.

"As some of you know there was a decisive battle at Hogwarts today."  Began Ron.

"But we are not here to talk about the battle.  We are here to discuss a grievous error that has been made by the Wizarding world in general and us specifically.  It is the events of the battle that brought this to light and"

George interrupted "Ron you sound like Perce, just say it already"

Ron surprisingly just nodded and continued "Harry Potter is innocent.  Wormtail stole his wand and used polyjuice and a spell to imitate him."

Exclamations of surprise and anger erupted from Molly, Arthur and Justin. 

"What we are here to do is figure out how to apologize to him for not believing him.  We were his family and we abandoned him.  Left him to rot in the worst place possible for him.  We all knew his reaction to dementors.  We all knew how much he loved Hagrid.  Merlin he lived with us most of the time that he wasn't at school yet we believed the worst of him." 

Percy spoke up "The minister is going to meet with him tomorrow to find out his demands.  An official declaration of innocence is being drafted as we speak.  I think we should wait until after the meeting before we approach him with anything.  If we wait a couple of days we can talk to him before the ceremony."

"Ceremony?  What ceremony?" asked Molly.

"Shouldn't of said anything, but the Minister is looking at awarding Harry the Order of Merlin First class for his actions in todays battle."  Continued Percy.

"I should certainly hope so." Said Charlie "You know who would certainly have taken Hogwarts if it hadn't been for Harry, and he definitely wouldn't have been defeated."

"Defeated, Voldemort is gone?" said Ginny

Justin and Molly flinched at the name, but all the Weasley men were nodding, "Yes You Know Who was destroyed, and we owe it all to Harry."

Ginny shuddered.  "We have to talk to him, apologize, beg his forgiveness.  Here we thought that he had betrayed us, when we were the betrayers.  Worse than he ever could have been.  Ten years in Azkaban I can't even imagine what he went through."

Molly jumped in "We could set up a room for him in the burrow.  Maybe Ron's old room.  I know he doesn't have his own place.  You could invite him to stay with us.  Talk to him after the meeting Arthur."

"Does anyone know where he is staying, we could go over tonight and talk to him." Asked Hermione

"I think he's still staying at Hogwarts.  But it might not be such a good idea to talk to him tonight he's probably pretty exhausted.  Besides we should let our own nerves calm down a bit before talking to him."  Said Fred with a thoughtful look.  "It might be best to wait a day like Percy suggested.  He's perfectly fine at Hogwarts for a couple of nights.  Dumbledore will see that he's taken care of."

Ron spoke up again "Waiting a couple of days is probably for the best.  Perce you say that the ceremony will be in three days"

Percy nodded

"Perfect we will talk to him before the ceremony.  That way after the ceremony he can head to the burrow to escape from the press, and that will give us time to get everything ready.  Agreed?"

Slowly everyone nodded.

"Good so we will talk to him in three days once the initial excitement has passed" 

~~~~**~~~~

Harry was miserable.  Even when he was innocent no one came to talk to him.  He'd even had to find his own room in the castle.  Not that anyone offered to let him stay.  He smirked to himself   "I suppose they expected me to return to my cell like a good little boy".  He'd been expecting Ron or maybe Hermione to come talk to him, apologize, cry or something.  But no one came.  Not Albus, not Lupin, not Ron nor Hermione.  Sirius had sent for him.  Sent for him and the first thing that happens when he shows up is some woman drawing a wand on him and treating him like dirt.  Well he wasn't going to stand for this.  They betrayed him.  If they didn't want to face up to their actions, then to hell with them.  He didn't need them.  He didn't owe them anything, and he certainly wouldn't miss them.  It had been ten years after all. First chance he got he was leaving.

~~~~**~~~~

"Your saying Harry is leaving the wizarding world?" questioned Ron

Dumbledore sighed, "Yes and he's requested that we not attempt to contact him."

"But we have to talk to him.  I have to apologize.  I have to let him know how sorry I am that I didn't believe him!" screamed Hermione

"Please headmaster.  Just tell us where he is.  We do need to speak with him.  Mum has a room at the burrow if he wants it.  We have to let him know.  Just tell us where he is."  Pleaded Ron.

"Honestly I would tell you if I knew, but he left yesterday right after the meeting and no one has seen him since."

Ron and Hermione stumbled out of professor Dumbledore's office shoulders slumped in defeat, vacant expressions on their faces.

~~~~**~~~~

Hermione was sitting in her living room looking through her photo album.  Every once in a while she would touch a picture and a tear would roll down her cheek.  She was so immersed in this ritual that she missed the flames in her fireplace turn green and the appearance of Ginny's head.  It was her voice that finally pulled Hermione out of her memories.

"Hermione have you seen todays Daily Prophet?  There is a letter from Harry.  He's leaving Hermione and he says anyone who tries to contact him will be sorry.  He hates us.  Merlin you were right he hates us and he won't even listen to apologies."  Sobbed Ginny.

"I know, Ron has been searching for him for the past two days to try and talk to him.  He hasn't heard a word about where he might be and he's talk to everyone."

"So there is nothing we can do?" hiccupped Ginny.

"No.  It looks like he's left us.  For good." Sighed Hermione as she reached out to touch another photo.

"Hermione.  I'm headed over to the burrow.  I need to be with mum right now.  If anyone is looking for me could you let them know…"

"Yes I'll let Justin know where you are." Replied Hermione distractedly.

~~~~**~~~~

"So you can't find him.  What kind of unspeakables are you?"  Demanded Ron.

"Ones who have to stop looking Ron.  The ministry can't contact Harry and let's face it you can't get any more ministry then our family."   Replied Fred Calmly.

"Don't give me that.  You can find him.  Do it!"

"Ron, No.  Harry doesn't want to be found.  We've tried.  This letter in the prophet confirms this.  He has asked us not to bother him and we are going to comply" said George with authority.

"Look Ron don't you think we want to talk to him.  We owe him as well.  He's a part owner in Weasley Wizard Wheezes.  Without his investment at the start we would not have been able to start the joke shop in Hogsmead much less have branches in Diagon Alley and Paris.  But we have to honor his request." Stated Fred

Ron opened his mouth to continue the argument, paused looking at his brothers.

"He's really gone then?" he said in a defeated voice.

"Yes Ron he's left and there is nothing we can do."

~~~~**~~~~

"Mum, mum are you home?" Called out Ginny as she stepped out of the fire.

She was greeted by silence.  Walking through the kitchen she noticed the breakfast dishes were still on the table.  A broken teacup on the floor by her mothers chair.  Moving quickly she climbed the stairs towards her parents room.  As she passed the room that they had made up for Harry she spotted her mother.  She was sitting on the bed with the daily prophet in one hand and a framed photo of Harry in the other.  Ginny walked in and sat down beside her mother and pulled her into a hug.

"He's gone.  And we never got to tell him how sorry we were."

"Yes mum.  He's gone."