Seventeen And A Half Years Later
"What if they won't let me in, because they don't recognize me?" Hermione asked worriedly as she stood in front of a medium-sized house on a quiet street. "Do you think I should just break in, in the middle of the night, to take the charm off?"
"I'm sure your parents—who raised you lovingly since birth—are very nice and welcoming people who won't slam the door in your face." Ginny told her friend. "Now, are we going to stand here all day just talking about you think is going to go wrong, or are we going to go knock on that door?"
"Ringing the doorbell would probably be a better idea." Harry said. "They might not hear us if we knock."
"Ring the what?" Ron questioned, looking from Harry to the front door of the house and back again. "I don't see a bell."
"It isn't a real bell, Ronald." Hermione said, rolling her eyes. "It's this muggle contraption. You push the button next to the front door, and an electrical bell-sound rings inside of the house. It's louder than knocking, so people usually hear it better."
Harry pushed the doorbell, while Ron looked on with interest. In a matter of seconds, all four of them could hear footsteps approaching the door. And after a moment, it was pulled open to reveal an older looking man that none of them recognized.
"Erm…hello." Hermione said uneasily. "Is this the home of Wendell and Monica Wilkins?"
A bright smile appeared on the man's face. "Of course it is. Why don't you lot just come on in." He glanced back over his shoulder. "Oi! Monica! You've got some people here to see you." He looked back at the four people in front of him again. "Sorry about that, my wife and I are just over for some tea, Monica was busy so I answered the door."
Harry shrugged. "That's alright."
The man scrutinized Harry for a moment through narrowed eyes.
"Do I know you from somewhere?" He asked Harry. "You look awfully familiar."
"Uh…" Was all Harry could say, before a very cheerful looking woman appeared behind the man.
"Hello there!" She said happily. "What can I do for you today?"
As one, Harry, Ron, and Ginny all turned to Hermione. This was her mother; she would be the one to lift the spell.
Hermione bit her lip. Apparently she hadn't thought too far ahead to what she was going to say, shocking really, for Hermione.
Seeing where the other three were all looking, Monica-Mrs. Granger- turned to look at Hermione as well, with an expectant smile still on her face.
Hermione was given a bit more time to think of something to say, however, when another woman appeared. She looked a bit older than Monica did, maybe more close in age to the man, whom they hadn't really been introduced to yet.
"What's going on out here?" The other woman asked.
"Laura," The man said, turning to face the other woman, "Doesn't that boy look familiar to you, too?" He gestured at Harry as he spoke.
Laura glanced over his shoulder, and stared intently at Harry for about a second, before a radiant grin lit up her face.
"You're the Potter boy." Laura said.
This caught the foursome's attention. Ron and Ginny's gazes shifted from Hermione to Harry quite abruptly. Harry could only nod, as he looked at the woman.
"I'm Laura Parker." Laura said, sticking out a hand for Harry to shake, which he did a bit warily. "My husband, Harold," She gestured at the man, "And I used to live on the same street as you."
"You did?" Harry asked with interest.
Laura nodded reminiscently. "I quite liked living in Little Whinging. If I hadn't wanted to live here, in Australia, my whole life, I would probably still be living on the same street as you and your parents."
If Harry hadn't been interested before, he was now, for sure.
"My parents?" Harry repeated.
Here, it was Harold's turn to nod. "Wonderful people, your parents. They came to see us off the day we left. When was that, over seventeen and a half years ago now, isn't it?"
Laura nodded again.
"Well, this is a pleasant surprise." Monica said, still looking very cheerful. "Why don't you all come into the kitchen and sit down? We were just about to have some tea. And then you can tell me what you wanted to talk about, as well. You know, it's not every day you find someone you used to know."
"Yeah," Ron agreed in an undertone as they followed her, "Someone like your parents."
Hermione glared at him. "Well, sorry." She hissed. "My mind went blank. How on earth am I supposed to explain to this woman that I'm her daughter, who's a witch, and I put a spell on her to make her think she was someone else? She doesn't think she has kids."
Meanwhile, just in front of the two of them, Harry and Ginny were whispering about something as well.
"My parents never lived in Little Whinging." Harry told her quietly, as he glanced suspiciously at Laura and Harold.
"Maybe they were thinking of someone else." Ginny suggested in equally soft tones.
"What are the chances that could happen?" Harry asked. "It's pretty suspicious, if you ask me. What if they're Death Eaters in disguise? It's only been a month since Voldemort died; some of them are still on the run."
"You four can sit there." Monica said, her voice breaking into their conversation. She indicated four chairs at the spacious-looking table. "I was telling Wendell just this morning that there was a reason we'd gotten such a large table. Now all of us can sit here comfortably."
As everyone else went to take a seat at the table, Harry held back just a bit, then sat as far away as possible from Laura and Harold Parker.
"Now tell us, Harry," Laura began once everyone was seated comfortably, "How are your parents doing these days? I haven't seen them since we moved here, and your mother was looking a bit stressed then."
Harry just looked at her blankly. It was no problem fighting off a hundred dementors, dueling with Death Eaters, or killing Voldemort. But how was he supposed to tell these two people, who had apparently known his family a long time ago, that his parents had been dead for years?
"…Er…" Harry said slowly, avoiding Laura's happily expectant face. "They're dead. They died the Halloween I was one."
Laura gasped. "That's—That's only ten months after we left." She paused here for a moment. "I'm so sorry, Harry."
Harry shrugged. "That's OK. I don't really remember it much."
"That's understandable." Laura said with a nod. "I guess you went to live with your grandparents, then, right?"
"No." Harry told her. "I've never met them. I lived with my aunt and uncle, and my cousin."
Laura's face seemed to suddenly light up. "Dudley was such a wonderful baby. I used to see him with Petunia all the time. It must have been so nice to grow up with someone so close in age."
Harry was saved from answering by the sound of the front door opening.
"I'm home!" A man's voice called out.
"Wendell is home." Monica informed everyone happily. "We're in the kitchen, dear!"
Hermione visibly tensed as footsteps approached the kitchen. There would be no more reason to put off telling them, now; they were both here.
"Hello." Wendell said happily, stepping into the kitchen. He stopped, however, when he saw the large group of people there. "Did you forget to invite me to the party, Monica?"
"Laura and Harold are always here." Monica told him with a wave of her hand. She indicated the four teenagers next. "But these four, here, were just about to tell us why they stopped by. They wanted to talk to us about something, didn't you?"
Hermione nodded slowly. Out of the corner of his eye Ron, who was next to her, saw her surreptitiously pull her wand out of her pocket.
"My name is Hermione Granger," Hermione began, "You, erm…knew my parents, back in England."
"Granger…Granger…" Wendell said slowly, as if trying to recall someone he knew with that name. "I'm sorry, dear, I seem to have forgotten them."
Hermione nodded again. "Yes, I thought you would. So, my friends and I were in the neighborhood, and we thought it would be nice to stop by. You know—help refresh your memory."
Then, before any of the four adults could more than blink, Hermione had her wand out in front of her. She pointed it at her parents, and with a flick of her wrist and a muttered word under her breath, there was a slight popping noise and the two of them blinked slowly, as if they had just been woken up.
"Hermione?" Monica asked. "Where are we? And why are you pointing your wand at us?"
With a large grin, Hermione stuffed her wand back into her pocket, and threw her arms around her mother's neck.
Someone cleared his or her throat then, and sudden realization hit Harry. He spun around to find the Parker's still sitting there, but with strange expressions on their faces. They didn't look surprised, or even overwhelmed, to see that Hermione was a witch. They merely looked as if they were trying very hard to remember something.
"I've seen one of those before." Harold said slowly, looking at the place where Hermione's wand had been moments before. "Someone had one…it was for our own good…she wanted us to be safe…"
Ginny glanced at Harry with a worried expression on her face.
"What's going on here, Hermione?" Wendell asked hid daughter urgently.
Hermione took a deep breath. "Now don't get mad, but I erased your memories and changed your identities to protect you from the Death Eaters. You moved here, to Australia on your own. But now the war is over. I've come back to bring you home."
Her parents were silent for a minute, during which they exchanged glances with each other.
"I think we want to stay here." Monica said finally. "It's been nice, living in Australia."
Hermione nodded slowly. "That's fine. Maybe I can get your house connected to the Floo network. And I can always apparate here to visit."
"Um…Hermione?" Ron said, speaking up for the first time in a while. "What about them?" He indicated the Parkers.
Hermione bit her lip.
"I think they're confused about something." Ginny said suddenly. "I think you should just erase their memories of us being here. Your parents can always re-introduce you later."
Monica nodded her agreeance.
"We're still here, you know." Laura said impatiently. "And I won't have anyone going and erasing my memories, thank you very—"
But Hermione had already pulled her wand out again, and with another flick of her wrist, Laura and Harold both slumped over in the seats.
"You guys leave now." Hermione told the other three. "Once you're gone, I'll wake them up."
"We'll be back at the Burrow." Ron told her, before he followed Harry and Ginny out of the kitchen.
Harry waited until they were back out on the road in front of the house, before he spoke again.
"They knew something." He said softly, looking back at the house. "She knew my parents…But we never lived in Little Whinging. It was always Godric's Hollow."
"They might have met your parents while they were visiting your aunt, or something." Ginny offered.
But Harry shook his head quickly. "They knew me. The first time I ever met Aunt Petunia was after my parents died."
"Oh, well, I guess now we'll never know for sure." Ron said after a moment. "But I'm sure they really were only neighbors."
Harry nodded slowly.
"Yes." He murmured under his breath. He glanced at Ron and Ginny. "The Burrow?"
They nodded, and in two faint pops, they were gone. Harry turned back to the house one last time, before giving a small sigh.
"Only neighbors." He whispered, before he, too, was gone.