Hermione was worried. This was nothing new to her; certainly the subject of her worry was nothing new. Hermione had been worrying about Harry Potter for most of the last six years. She sat in her room, in her favorite reading spot, the book nook, as she called it. Her father had built several large bookshelves into the corner by her window, and a nicely padded bench was built in front of the window itself.
Two days ago she had started reading a massive volume on Occlumency, and she was beginning to get tired of reading. She glanced at her clock and thought Well, I have been reading nearly the entire day. She put her book down and got up stretching, then walked around her room, pausing to pick up Crookshanks and stroke his back as she walked, "I think I'm actually making progress Crookshanks. Occlumency now makes sense, and maybe I can start helping Harry learn it when we're together next. Oh why didn't I work with him on this during school, Crookshanks? He just can't learn from Professor Snape."
Her thoughts went back to three days ago, when she had last seen Harry. It was on platform 9 3/4, just after their train ride home from a disastrous fifth year at Hogwarts. Harry had seemed so lost that day. He hadn't even said goodbye, just waved and walked away. Hedwig had arrived at her window yesterday morning with no message. She had immediately sat down and written him a letter.
I think Hedwig lost your letter. She arrived without one. What are your plans for the beginning of the summer? I know you can't leave there for the next four weeks but you could certainly get all that homework done so you would have August free when we can get you out of there. I have spoken to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. They agree that on August 1st they will pick you up and take you to the Burrow. Wouldn't that be just great? I know you need to talk about it, I want to help. I hope to hear from you soon.
She glanced at her letter again, still surprised. He had simply written NO on her letter and sent it back. Just what was that supposed to mean? No, WHAT? Grrr! That boy could be so frustrating sometimes! When she had gotten that reply this morning, she had written Professor Dumbledore.
I am very concerned about Harry. He needs our help now! He cannot be allowed to stay alone at that house for four whole weeks. I think Harry needs a counselor, someone whom he can trust with all the emotions he is keeping bottled up inside of him. Please send Remus to check on him immediately!
Thank you for your help,
Hedwig had returned an hour ago. Dumbledore had sent only a short reply.
I agree with your assessment. Harry needs help immediately. I believe I can arrange exactly what is needed.
Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hedwig was still here. She had gotten her a bowl of water, and after draining nearly the entire thing, she had settled down on the perch Hermione had bought last year, and gone to sleep. Hermione decided not to worry too much right now; Dumbledore would do what was needed. She looked at the clock and saw that she had an hour left before her parents called her for dinner. She dove back into her book on Occlumency, determined to learn this as fast as she could.
*** *** ***
At the Dursley's
He vaguely heard aunt Petunia's voice, "Boy you get down here this instant and cook our dinner!" The words barely registered in his mind. He had been home for nearly three whole days now, only venturing from his room in the middle of the night to sneak some food. The only sleep he'd managed was when he had passed out from exhaustion the night before. Tonight he was determined to get through to Sirius. He sat huddled on his bed, Sirius's mirror before him light from the fading sun came through his thin curtains. He leaned forward, peering deeply into the depths of the mirror; he thought he had seen movement inside. "Sirius, I'm not giving up! I know you're not dead! Sirius?" he whispered intently.
His words stirred another memory, he glanced at his desk, it was still there. How could Gringotts think Sirius was dead? He couldn't read the cover of the envelope from here, but he knew well what it said, "Last Will and Testament of Sirius Black." Like I would read that with Sirius missing? I'll give it back to him when he returns.
Mr. H. Potter,
Per the wishes of Mr. Black we have forwarded to you his Last Will and Testament.
We would also wish you to visit us at your earliest convenience.
Our Deepest Condolences for your recent loss.
His attention returned to the mirror before him; he picked it up. Looking deeply into his own reflection he once again muttered, "Sirius! I'm not giving up. I know you're not dead - Sirius can you hear me?"
*** *** ***
Dan Granger was helping his wife Emma finish getting dinner ready. Suddenly he felt a strange urge; he needed to go open the front door! The feeling was strangely irresistible. Placing the last of the silverware on the table, he hastened to the door and immediately pulled it open. There was an old man standing there, as if he was expecting Dan to open the door at just that precise moment. The old man was dressed in a long flowing light blue robe. Half-moon spectacles glinted upon his bent nose.
The old man smiled warmly, "Good evening Mr. Granger, my name is Albus Dumbledore. I am the Headmaster of Hogwarts."
Dan felt his wife come up behind him in the hallway. He stood in awe; he doubted he could have spoken if he had tried. Fortunately, Emma was not as speechless as he. "Please come in and join us for dinner, sir," he heard her say. Emma grasped his left hand in her right and entwined her fingers with his. Dan, feeling the reassuring touch of his wife, quickly retreated making room for Albus to enter their home.
Albus bowed slightly, "Why, thank you. I would be most delighted to join you for dinner. I do, however, have a most important matter to discuss with the two of you first." He ducked his head, allowing his pointed hat to clear the doorway and walked past them and towards their living room.
Dan and Emma followed in his wake, still grasping hands. The door swung closed and the bolt went home, seemingly of its own accord.
Once they were all in the living room Albus turned and gestured at the couch, "Please sit and relax. I am here to ask a favor of you both. I feel I must explain a bit, prior to that request, so please bear with me for a moment. I assume that Hermione has mentioned one Harry Potter to you?" Dan and Emma sank silently into the couch, both looking concerned at the mention of Harry's name. "Ahh, yes, I see she has indeed! Well this concerns him. Harry has had a very hard life. His parents were murdered when he but a year old; since then he has lived with his Aunt and Uncle, they have barely managed to tolerate his presence in their house for the last few years. I know you have both accepted the fact that Hermione is a witch. Well, to say that they have not accepted Harry is a wizard is a gross understatement. To them, he is an abomination to be shunned. However, due to the circumstances of his parent's demise, he must live with them for one month of each year. He is currently in his third day of that month."
He paused and let that settle in before continuing.
"A few weeks ago, the wizard who killed his parents, Voldemort, lured Harry to the Ministry of Magic with dreams that Harry's godfather was being held there. Hermione, along with four other students, accompanied him. What they found instead was a trap. The students found themselves surrounded by a dozen Death Eaters. Those are what Voldemort calls his followers. A tremendous battle ensued. Now, you would think that six children against a dozen adults wouldn't be much of a battle, but oh it was! When we finally arrived, the battle was down to a handful of Death Eaters against Harry and a boy named Neville Longbottom. During the ensuing battle Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, was lost." At the mention of Sirius Black, Dan and Emma exchanged a quick look of concern as Dumbledore continued. "All of the Death Eaters were captured except for Bellatrix Lestrange, the one who killed Sirius. Other than Miss Granger's injury none of the students were seriously harmed."
The Grangers looked at him, confusion written on their faces.
"Now as to why I am telling you all of this. As you may know already, Harry has two true friends in this world: Ronald Weasley and Hermione. Together the three of them have been on many harrowing adventures. This morning I received a letter you're your daughter." He pulled out the letter and offered it to them.
Emma took it and quickly read her daughter's familiar handwriting.
I am very concerned about Harry. He needs our help now! He cannot be allowed to stay alone at that house for four whole weeks. I think Harry needs a counselor, someone whom he can trust with all the emotions he is keeping bottled up inside of him. Please send Remus to check on him immediately!
Thank you for your help,
"I most heartily agree with her assessment. Harry needs someone whom he can trust, and he needs them now. I believe the one soul, which Harry would welcome at this time, is your daughter. She has proven, even when others have not, that she will stand with him no matter the cost. I would ask you to allow Hermione to leave with me tonight and stay with Harry until he has worked through his grief."
Dan asked sharply, "You want to take our daughter to live with Harry until he recovers? She's only sixteen years old; what can she do that a counselor cannot?"
When Dumbledore spoke it was with a gleam in his eye and awe in his voice. "Trust and Love, whether even she knows it or not. She trusts and loves Harry with all her heart. He needs those in abundance right now. I believe that Hermione is sufficient to the task and would gladly take this opportunity."
Emma whose eyes had become blurry with unshed tears, suddenly stood up. "Well, let's ask her, she's getting old enough to make these decisions. I will be back in a moment; please excuse me." With that she turned and hurried out of the room towards the stairs.
*** *** ***
Emma paused once she was out of sight on the stairs. Did she understand Albus correctly? Did he just say that their little girl was in love? At least now she understood why Hermione was so obsessed with Harry. It all seemed to fit; Harry was by far the biggest topic of conversation within the Granger household. Hermione seemed to be constantly thinking about how he would love to watch a movie, they had just seen, or read a particular book she had just finished. Well, if her little girl was in love, then she needed all the support she could provide. I refuse to act like my own mother. The scratchy voice of her mother from long ago rang in her head, "You couldn't possibly know what love is; you're just a baby!" She took a deep breath, cleared the hated voice from her mind and wiped her eyes dry before proceeding to her daughter's room.
"Hermione dear," she spoke as she opened her daughter's door. Hermione was sitting in her favorite reading spot, that same massive book she had been obsessed with for the last few days propped in front of her. She was bent over scribbling some notes on a piece of parchment. Emma spoke a little louder, "Hermione!"
Hermione looked up startled, "Oh Mum! Sorry, is dinner ready?"
Emma relaxed against the doorframe, "Nearly dear. You have a visitor downstairs."
Hermione leaped up, eyes gleaming, "Harry is here to see me?"
"No dear, I'm sorry. It's Albus Dumbledore," Hermione's expression was immediately clouded with concern.
"OH NO! What can have happened?" She tried to rush past her mother.
Emma quickly wrapped her worried daughter into a tight hug as she tried to pass her in the doorway. "Hermione, we have just spoken with Albus, and nothing new has happened to your dear Harry in the last few days." She felt Hermione stiffen with her choice of words, but continued nonetheless. "Albus has told us of your letter to him. He seems to be nearly as concerned about Harry as you are. Let's go downstairs; apparently he needs your help, dear."
"Me?" Hermione spoke meekly, "What can he need my help for? He is the greatest wizard there is!"
Emma gave her daughter a quick hug, and then let her go so they could walk downstairs. "Well, let's go ask him. Shall we?"
They hurried down, Hermione in the lead, practically jumping over the last few stairs. Emma could tell she was still a bit anxious, but she hoped she had quelled her daughter's immediate fears as to Harry's current state. She could hear her husband's voice as they approached the living room. When Hermione entered the room they broke off their conversation.
"Ahh, Miss Granger. So good to see you again so soon," Albus spoke immediately, a small smile appearing upon his face.
Hermione ignored the usual pleasantries to get right to the point, "Headmaster, I assume this is in response to my letter this morning?"
"Why, yes, it is. First I have a few questions for you. I need you to answer them before I continue. I understand that you have begun studying Occlumency?" She nodded her head. "Good. Hopefully, Harry will be able to learn it from you."
"That was my intention sir," Hermione answered truthfully.
"Now since you have been studying Occlumency you are aware of Legilimency?" She nodded again, "I, in case you have not guessed, have some skill in both."
"Yes Sir. I would dare guess that you are probably the best at them in the world," Hermione challenged.
Smiling Dumbledore replied, "Ahh what a wonderful mind you have there, my dear. I dare say some day you will surpass me!"
Hermione blushed and looked down.
"Now on to the questions; In your opinion, what are Harry's current emotions?"
Hermione seemed a bit surprised by the question but met Dumbledore's eyes before she replied in a calm and steady voice, "He feels alone and unloved."
The next question came quickly, "What will it take to get him through this?"
Hermione thought for a minute before answering. "He needs to acknowledge Sirius's death and understand that he is not alone."
"What are your feelings towards Harry Potter?"
Hermione looked down and blushed at this. She took a deep breath and once again met the Headmaster's sparkling eyes, "He is my very best friend in the world; I would do anything to help him," Then looking down again she spoke, barely above a whisper, "and I love him!"
The last part caught Dan by surprise, "What?"
The Headmaster suddenly sat down in a lounge chair and smiled triumphantly at Hermione.
Hermione looked up at him and seeing his expression exclaimed, "You knew!"
He answered simply, "Yes."
Hermione turned to face her parents. "Yes, I love Harry; I can't stop thinking about him. He has become the reason I work so hard on my studies. I need to help him prepare to face Voldemort. I need to prepare myself to be worthy of standing beside him and to help him in any way I can in the final battle." She was crying freely now, Emma went and again embraced her daughter.
Albus broke the silence that followed that stunning statement with one word, "Excellent."
The Grangers all looked at Dumbledore for an explanation of that remark.
Albus stood again, "Precisely what Harry needs, you!"
Hermione twisted in her mother's embrace to face her Headmaster again, "Yes Professor, I know. I have tried for the last five years. Even if he can never love me I will be there for him. I swear it!" She spoke fiercely never looking away from Dumbledore's eyes.
"And now I must ask a favor of you, Miss Granger."
"What is it Professor?"
"I need you to go to him now and stay with him until he works through his grief. Harry must not despair, or Voldemort will win, he must know he is loved. Love is the key to winning this battle, your love for Harry, and his for you. Don't look so surprised, Miss Granger. He may not realize it yet, but he does love you with all his heart. Hopefully this summer you can help him realize this."
"So, let me get this straight, you want me to go and live with him at the Dursleys'?" Dumbledore nodded yes. "OK, when do we leave?" Hermione turned back to her father. "Oh, sorry, I need to go help Harry. May I?"
Dan, still looking a bit shocked, nodded his head yes.
"Oh thank you, thank you!" Hermione crushed her father in a hug, Emma embracing them both.
"After dinner, and when you have packed, I will take you to him," Dumbledore announced.
Hermione disengaged herself from her parents and gave Dumbledore a quick hug before turning to run upstairs. The three adults heard her excitedly exclaim as she ran, "I'm going to see Harry! I'm going to see Harry!"
*** *** ***
Back to the Dursley's
Dumbledore and Hermione arrived at #4 Privet Drive with a soft "pop." He released her wrist and took out his wand, and promptly began casting a spell. Hermione checked Crookshanks in his cage, then turned back to watch Professor Dumbledore. He soon finished; Hermione thought she had seen a brief flash of light encompass the entire house.
"A modified shield charm, Professor?" she asked.
Dumbledore turned to her, "Yes, Miss Granger. Now the Ministry will be unable to detect magic done within this house. I dare say you both may wish to avoid the Dursleys entirely. Feel free to do whatever you feel is necessary."
She nodded obviously relieved, "Yes Sir, I understand."
"Please owl me when you think he is ready to talk with others. I have a proposal that I think would interest him greatly. Should he choose to accept it he will need to spend much of the summer practicing."
Hermione looked rather worried at this and Dumbledore remarked, "No, my dear nothing dangerous, I assure you."
"Oh, OK Professor. I will do my best."
Dumbledore placed his left hand gently upon her shoulder and met her steady gaze. "I have every faith in your abilities in this matter. Harry's well-being is entirely in your capable hands." With that he turned to Hermione's massive trunk, "locomotor trunk," and her trunk began floating several inches off the sidewalk.
Hermione grasped the handle to her trunk, and with Crookshanks carrier in the other hand, approached the door.
"Go to him. I will deal with them." She simply nodded her expression grim and determined.
Suddenly the door was snatched open by a livid Vernon Dursley. He barked, "What is the meaning of this intrusion?"
Hermione looked at Vernon and demanded in her best Minerva McGonagall voice, "WHERE IS HE?"
Vernon was visibly shaken that such a little girl would use so commanding a tone with him. He took a few steps back and stammered, "Room," and pointed up the stairs.
Hermione immediately walked in, forcing Vernon to take another several steps backward. She saw Harry's aunt and cousin peering around the corner at the disturbance, frightened expressions on their faces. She ignored them all to walk calmly up the stairs.
Vernon turned back to Dumbledore and asked quietly, "What is the meaning of this?"
Dumbledore walked in and said, "Living room." He then proceeded to head there himself.
Vernon quickly closed and locked the door and the Dursleys followed in Dumbledore's wake. Once they were all in the living room Dumbledore faced them, "I am aware that you can barely stand to have Harry live here. I can assure you that he feels the same. He must however spend these four weeks under this roof and potentially another four weeks next summer. After that I am sure he will be out of your care."
Vernon looked quite pleased at this prospect but asked, "But what has this to do with that hussie being here?"
Dumbledore's normal calm was shattered in an instant. Sparks could be seen flitting about him and the entire room seemed charged with energy. When he spoke his voice was cold as ice, "THAT YOUNG LADY IS THE MOST INTELLIGENT WITCH I HAVE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE TO MEET." Calming a bit he continued, "She is also Harry's best friend and is here to help him – His godfather was killed in his presence a few weeks ago – He must come to grips with his loss and grieve – He must return to the Wizarding world – strong and ready to face Voldemort or the world will surely become a much crueler place for all of us. Hermione has taken on the task of helping Harry through this difficult time. You will treat her with respect and she will be staying here until he leaves. You may now go back to ignoring Harry, Hermione will see to him!" With a steely glare he was suddenly enveloped in green flame and was gone. As the flames vanished Dumbledore's voice echoed around the room, "I will be watching!"
The Dursley's seemed to realize some time later that they were all sitting on the floor staring at the spot where Dumbledore had vanished.
*** *** ***
Hermione walked purposefully upstairs. Crookshanks let out a soft meow, "shh Crookshanks, it's ok we're going to see Harry, I'll let you out in a minute." She knew instantly which door was Harry's, as it had six locks on the outside and a cat door installed in the bottom. She stopped at the door and took a deep breath to calm herself, then releasing her trunk quietly undid the locks and slipped the door open. The room was almost completely bare, light from the street lights filtered through the thin curtains; otherwise the room was completely dark. She walked inside pulling her trunk with her.
For a moment she thought the room might be empty, and then she saw a small figure sitting hunched over on the bed. She quietly put down her trunk and Crookshanks cage then closed and locked the door with a barely audible, "coloportus." Remembering her promise to Crookshanks she knelt and opened his door. Then stood and approached Harry, he had his back to her but she could now hear he was muttering something. He apparently hadn't noticed her enter the room or cast the locking charm on the door. She sat down close beside him on the bed and he looked up, startled, suddenly realizing there was someone else in his room. He turned towards her and she inhaled sharply, she thought she had been prepared for anything, his eyes still sent a chill down her spine. His tortured soul was clearly visible in his bloodshot green eyes. She could see he had been staring intently into a small hand mirror he held in his left hand.
He struggled to form a word before he croaked out, "Mione?"
"Yes Harry I'm really here," She replied to his unasked question. She reached out and brought him into a strong hug. She hugged him as hard as she could, trying to surround him and protect him from himself. He was stiff for a moment then collapsed entirely into her embrace. The mirror dropped onto the bed, completely forgotten as he returned her embrace. Relaxing her hug so he could breath she whispered, "You're not alone anymore. You'll never be alone again. I promise." She began rubbing his back and humming soothingly.
He mumbled something she stopped humming and asked, "What was that Harry?"
He spoke up a little more, "I don't know what to do."
"There is only one thing to do. Continue living, Sirius would have wanted you to." She turned her head to look out the window then continued, "You know the drill grow up, fall in love, get married, have some beautiful children, defeat a Dark Lord every now and then. Like it or not Harry you are the hero of the Wizarding world already. I know you can't stand it but it's a part of you. You can't say, "I'm no hero," because you are a hero. For five years now you have proven it over and over. You're my hero."
"I just want to be Harry though. I don't want to be someone everyone looks at to solve their problems." He lamented then turning to look her in the eyes, just inches away, he continued, "I'm your hero? I thought Lockhart was your hero?"
"Oh my no! not that fraud, his only accomplishment was stealing other's glory. You have actually done more to help others than most adult wizards. So like it or not you are a hero and it's so much a part of who you are I don't think you could ever stop. And I, will always be with you to help you do whatever you need to do," she promised very sincerely.
Harry looked away from the intensity of her eyes and out into the night before he replied to that statement, "I couldn't have done any of it without you. I would be long dead; I can see the Daily Prophet now, Harry Potter killed by Devils Snare in his first year at Hogwarts." He sighed, relaxing again into her embrace, "I am so tired Mione, I haven't slept much in the last week, but you make it all go away."
"Well then let's get you to sleep and we will talk more later," she released him and stood up when he took his weight off of her. A sudden though crossed her mind and she asked, "Are you hungry Harry?"
"Starving actually, I haven't eaten much in the last week either." He picked up the hand mirror and stood. He placed the mirror face down on his desk then turned on a small desk lamp. He then turned towards the door, "I guess we will have to go downstairs and get some food." He clearly didn't want to face that prospect.
Hermione saw how gaunt he looked in the light. She pulled out her wand, "Actually no, we can do magic now inside the house." She promptly cast a silencing charm around the room, "Now we won't be bothered by the Dursley's unless we want to be I sealed the door earlier. What would you like to eat?"
Crookshanks took that opportunity to rub up against his leg, begging for attention. Harry reached down and picked him up and sat in his desk chair. He settled Crookshanks in his lap and started petting him absently, "Hmmm food," he thought out loud.
Just then there was the sound of an owl scratching at the window. She went and pulled back the curtains then opened the window for Hedwig to come inside, "Welcome home, I hope you had a pleasant flight girl." Hedwig landed on her perch and hooting affectionately drank deeply of her water and settled down to sleep.
Hermione closed the window and then the curtains before she asked again, "Food Harry? What do you want to eat?"
"Umm a ham and cheese sandwich, chips and some pumpkin juice. Oh and warm pumpkin pie for desert," He said in a mildly challenging tone.
"Ok well let's see about that. First a table and chairs," She quickly transfigured a pencil into a small table for two and a pair of cushions into two comfortable chairs. Then she thought a minute and twirled her wand around over the table spoke a spell very quietly, Harry couldn't catch the words to it. Suddenly the table held the exact meal Harry had just wished for.
"Wow, you're amazing!" he got up from the chair and put Crookshanks on the floor then sat at the table and immediately began eating. After a few bites he cleared his mouth and asked, "Isn't conjuration a N.E.W.T. subject?"
Hermione sat down opposite him and blushing slightly said, "Yes but I have been reading ahead a little."
"Will you ever stop amazing me? Not that I mind really, it's not like you bother me or anything," he finished lamely.
She blushed more at the compliment, "I'm not trying to amaze you Harry. I am just trying to be ready to help you no matter what it is you need," she confessed.
"Well thank you I don't think I have ever thanked you enough, actually I don't think I have ever thanked you. How terrible of me. I am sorry Mione for not showing my appreciation for all you have done for me. I promise to make it up to you." As he spoke Harry had reached out and grasped her hands as they lay on the table. He affectionately squeezed them as he made his promise. Harry looked at her for another moment then releasing her hands went back to devouring his meal.
Harry held my hands! Harry actually reached out and took my hands! Take that Cho Chang! She thought reveling in the victory over her former rival. She had already eaten at her parent's house so she just poured some pumpkin juice and got herself a slice of pumpkin pie. They ate in a relaxed silence that had become so familiar to them both for the last few years. When he was finally finished eating she stood and put everything back how it had been. She then went to her trunk and opened it up. Harry saw that it was half filled with shrunken books. She pulled out her nightgown and slippers. When she turned around she found Harry staring at her, "Turn around Harry I am going to change and get ready for bed."
Harry blushed and immediately did as he was told, "Umm you're staying here?"
"Yes Harry I'm here for the rest of the summer," She replied calmly.
"How is that possible?" he asked, barely suppressing the urge to turn around and talk to her face to face.
"Dumbledore asked me to come here and help you. So of course I came immediately."
"Why would he ask that?"
"Well, you have been through an awful lot lately we felt you needed someone you can trust. He seemed to think that I was more qualified to handle this than anyone else, so here I am."
Harry almost turned around again when she said, "here I am," but again managed to restrain himself. He decided to change the topic, "Ron is going to be so jealous when he hears about this you know?"
"Why is that Harry?" she asked sweetly.
This was it, "Because he has had a crush on you since fourth year Yule Ball."
He could feel her cringing when she replied, "Eww that's gross, true he's like the brother I never had but that's as far as it goes. Ok Harry your turn now you get ready for bed."
Harry turned around at last; she had the long nightgown on. He could clearly see her silhouette through the thin material. She took out her hairbrush and was now brushing her long bushy hair. His breath caught at the sight but managed to ask in what he felt was an even tone, "What about the bathroom?"
I need a cold shower a very cold shower, damn this was going to be a tough summer, just Hermione and no one else to distract me from the fact I love her. Damn, damn why couldn't I just admit it to her? What if she doesn't feel the same? But she obviously doesn't love Ron. He was able to admit to himself that facing his own feelings and possible rejection from the one person he could not function without was hard. Gods this is more difficult than the prospect of facing Voldemort. He ran his fingers roughly through his hair in frustration.
"Oh, just a minute," she picked up her wand from where she had left it on his desk. Turning towards the doorway she waved her wand and transfigured the corner of the room where his door used to be. Harry went over and pulled open the new door. Sure enough there was an entire bathroom in there. She had quietly gone back to brushing her hair.
Harry said, "Well I'll just test the facilities then," and he closed the door to the new bathroom.
While she brushed her hair she turned on all the lights and looked around the room. She heard the shower turn on and decided she had some time to snoop around before he came out. She looked over his desk and noticed Sirius's unopened will and read the letter from Gringotts.
Mr. H. Potter,
Per the wishes of Mr. Black we have forwarded to you his Last Will and Testament.
We would also wish you to visit us at your earliest convience.
Our Deepest Condolences for your recent loss.
"I wonder what that is about? Well we will deal with that later. First let's make this room more presentable shall we?" She spoke quietly to Crookshanks. Putting down her hairbrush she again took up her wand and went to work on the bed first. She transfigured the mattress, making it firmer. The sheets became soft cotton instead of the woolen hand me downs they had been. Then she transfigured his nearly flat pillows into thick fluffy ones and the threadbare quilt became a warm comforter to go over the bed. She chose a light baby blue, since it was Harry's bed after all. With that done she went looking through his dresser at his clothes. She had known for years that he had only Dudley's hand-me-downs. After a minute she decided to just transfigure a few things. She guessed at the sizes and fixed his shirts, pants, underwear, and socks.
Then she took a pair of soft boxers and a slightly overlarge t-shirt into the bathroom for him to put on. She very quietly placed them on the counter and left closing the door softly behind her. Then she transfigured the curtains so they would actually block most of the morning sunlight. She heard the shower turn off and hurried to finish her straightening of the room. She turned off all but the desk lamp and levitated her trunk and Crookshanks cage out of the way. Then she took up her hairbrush once again and sat Indian style in the middle of the bed to finish brushing her long hair.
He came out of the bathroom in the clothes she had left for him. He stood there in the doorway stunned and finally stammered, "You're beautiful."
"Thank you but, haven't you seen me dressed like this nearly every night at school?" She replied.
Harry walked across the room taking in all the changes she had made, "I will say it again, you're amazing! Thanks for the clothes I completely forgot to take anything into the bathroom with me. I like what you did out here while I was showering, suddenly I don't hate my room anymore."
Hermione blushed at his compliments and patted the bed next to her, "Come on let's get to sleep I'm sure you're very tired."
He suddenly seemed to realize something shocking, "Hermione, are we sleeping in the same bed?"
"Yes, don't worry you're not going to scare me away. I don't think you would get much sleep without me around so come on turn off that light and get into bed."
"But what if I accidentally touch things I shouldn't be touching?" he spoke quietly blushing quite red.
Hermione thought about this for a moment before replying, "Harry, look at me." When he complied she continued, "I trust you not to do anything intentional and you would never do anything I didn't want you to do right?" She looked directly into his eyes as she spoke, daring him to contradict her.
Defeated he just nodded his head and turned to switch off the light on the desk. His room was almost completely dark now but he knew where his bed was. She had lain down with her back to the wall. As he lay on the bed she guided him towards her. He ended up on his side facing away from her. Her right arm under his neck and her left around his upper chest. She threw the sheet and comforter over them both and whispered softly into his ear, "You're safe, I'm here and I am not going to disappear, now sleep."
He found those words very comforting. His absolute terror at sleeping in the same bed with her was dissipated instantly and he relaxed. He was finally able to enjoy the company of the one person whom he trusted without reservation. That night for the first time in nearly two years he slept soundly, without even a hint of the usual nightmares to interrupt his rest.
*** *** ***
Hermione, who was not nearly as tired as Harry, lay awake for a long time. He had quickly relaxed in her embrace and fallen into a deep sleep. Well, I have always wished to be this close to him. She paid careful attention to how he breathed while sleeping. Would he toss and turn all night like Ron had told her he did when Voldemort was making his scar hurt? How could one person live through as much pain and suffering as he had and still be ready to suffer so others would be better off? I don't understand it but it is definitely one of his most endearing traits. In fact he spends most of his time worrying about others safety he often neglected to think about his own. "Harry's safety is my job and that's why I'm here."
Harry began shifting in his sleep. He tried to roll onto his back but she was in the way. She pushed on him a bit and managed to move him over about a foot and then pulled his shoulder down so he was lying on his back. She then cuddled up to him and put her head on his shoulder and draped her arm over his chest. Harry, though she was certain he was asleep, brought his left arm up to hold her tightly.
Hermione sighed in contentment and whispered, "I Love you Harry." She then gave him a soft kiss on the cheek and settled down to sleep.
Much later he awoke from a beautiful dream. Hermione had kissed him and told him she loved him. Something was tickling his nose. He tried to reach his face with his left arm but something was holding it down and he couldn't to move it. With his right hand he managed to reach his face to find several locks of long hair across his face. Startled he brushed them off and began to remember the wonderful events of the previous evening. Hermione's here, she is the reason I can't move my arm. Oh, what a wonderful feeling, Hermione lying next to me. He twisted onto his side facing Hermione, then very carefully put his right arm around her and went back to sleep. Hermione snuggled into his embrace, an angelic smile upon her face.
Hermione awoke shortly after sunrise. She was disoriented for a moment, What was going on? – Where am I? – Why can't I move? All these thoughts flew through her mind at once. Then she answered them all with one thought, "Harry!" She opened her eyes to find his brilliant green eyes just inches away from hers. He had been staring at her.
He whispered, "Good morning."
She felt an overwhelming urge to stretch and did. Her, "Morning Harry," came out as little more than a moan as she tried to stretch and talk at the same time. Harry seemed reluctant to let her go. She took that as a good sign of his feelings for her. But they were up and she was hungry.
As if reading her mind he asked, "What would you like for breakfast Mione?"
Merlin he knows me so well, she thought then said, "Oh, going to try conjuring us breakfast today?"
He gave her that smile that always melted her resolve, "Well if you show me how to I will certainly try."
Hermione pulled the comforter and sheet out of the way and he sat up reluctantly. She also sat up and decided to find out what this Mione thing was all about, "why are you calling me Mione?"
He blushed a bit and looked down, "Oh, I don't know it seems right. I'll try and stop if you don't like it," he offered sincerely.
"Actually, no one has ever called me that and coming from you I don't really mind it. I don't think I would like it if everyone started calling me that though."
He looked up at this confession and smiled, "So how do you conjure again?"
"Well let's see you make the table and chairs first. Then I will decide if I want to risk my breakfast on your conjuring abilities all right?"
"Fair enough," he stood and pulled his wand out from under his mattress.
"You keep your wand under your mattress?"
"Yes, one thing I learned from Barty Crouch Jr. is constant vigilance, my wand is never out of reach," he answered her very seriously. He shook himself out of those memories and turned to the task at hand. He concentrated for a minute then transfigured a table and two matching chairs. The table was only slightly wobbly but the chairs looked just fine.
"Well done! ok let's see some conjuring then. Concentrate on what you want to appear. Picture it clearly in your mind. You saw the wand motion yesterday. Let's see it?"
Harry started to move his wand like he had seen her do.
"Yes make a little cone shape with your wand. Yes just like that ok now the word is CONJURUS. Speak it clearly while you picture everything in your mind."
Harry hesitated a minute then looked up at her, "You never said what you wanted."
She blushed at forgetting such an obvious detail, "Oh, how about eggs, sausage, toast, and orange juice," she answered quickly.
"How do you fancy your eggs?"
"Sunny side up, a little runny."
He turned back to the table, began twirling his wand and screwed his face up in concentration, "Conjurus!" Instantly the table was filled with two heaping servings of the food exactly as she had asked. Harry had only forgotten the plates, "Oops! Good thing I didn't conjure the orange juice yet," he then quickly tried again, "Conjurus!" and plates appeared under all the food. Harry finished with one more, "Conjurus," and two large glasses of chilled orange juice appeared along with silverware and condiments.
She had barely kept herself from giggling at his mistake but she beamed a smile at him when he fixed it, "Great job!" She got off the bed and moved to the table and started eating, "You're a good cook too."
"I have had a lot of practice with the Dursley's, but I wouldn't think it mattered much in this."
She shook her head vigorously, swallowed then explained, "Of course it does. When you visualized the meal you included details like the eggs had been cooked in so much butter etcetera. If you had forgotten that detail they would have been completely different."
Harry sat down and started eating. They lost the need for words while they ate. He reached for the butter just as she was passing it to him and later she wanted the marmalade and found him offering it. These actions had become second nature to them from their five years of eating together. Once again they felt the reassuring calm of two very close friends settling over them as they ate.
*** *** ***
When they were done eating Hermione spoke up, "I'm going to take a shower, let's see if you can clean all this up."
He nodded wiping his mouth with a napkin, "Ok, you're on."
She got herself a change of clothes and headed into their bathroom. When she came out the room was clean. She exchanged smiles with Harry as he headed into the shower for his turn, this time she noticed he had remembered to bring a change of clothes. She opened her trunk and began unpacking in earnest. Her miniaturized collection of books went on the shelf with his. She commandeered two of his drawers in his dresser for her things and hung up everything else in the closet. She then fed Crookshanks and Hedwig. When Harry came out of the shower she was again sitting on the bed working the tangles out of her wet hair.
"Hermione do you know the spell to make a room bigger than it should be?" he asked.
She looked up from her hair, "Yes I know the spell but have never practiced it." She grinned mischievously at him, "Why is your cozy little room suddenly too small with me here?"
He looked shocked at her accusation, "No, I don't feel uncomfortable with you here, this is the best July of my life. I was just thinking we should have a couch and a better table and chairs if we are going to be studying in here as well. It's a pain to have to keep transfiguring stuff."
"Oh, ok, I'll try it. How about umm ten feet wider and fifteen feet longer? That should give us room for several more bookshelves to accommodate all my books as well as the couch, table and chairs." She stood up and pulled her wand out of her pocket then walked to the center of the room and said, "expandere permanentis!" moving her wand in a circle over her head. The room gave a lurch and suddenly was quite a bit bigger. She looked around nodding happily, "Well that's quite nice isn't it? You handle the furniture. Try conjuring it, practice you know." She smiled at him warmly.
He pulled his wand from his trousers and stood thinking for a minute, "Let's see I'm partial to the couches in the common room so let's have one like the big one in front of the fire shall we. Since we are used to the tables and chairs there I think those will do as well, on second thought a bit more padding to the chairs." He quickly conjured these, then added a pair of ceiling height bookshelves next to his one small one which he then transfigured to match them, "There is that enough shelf space for you?"
"Well for what I have with me yes, well done, you've picked up conjuring very quickly."
He shrugged his shoulders, "It seems quite easy really. I guess people would have trouble if they couldn't visualize the item in enough detail right?"
"Exactly, since you pay attention to details you can conjure what you envision."
"Ok, I know you probably have a study schedule all filled out. What's next on our agenda for today? Personally, I would like to get Snape's three scroll essay out of the way."
She bit her lower lip before meeting his eyes, "Actually Harry our study schedule doesn't start for another few days, Monday actually. I do however have several things we need to do before that." She took a deep breath before continuing, "The first item being Sirius and his will there on your desk."
Harry looked dumbstruck by this. He quickly sat down on their new couch and looked at the floor between his feet.
Hermione went and picked up the will and sat beside him. She began rubbing his back as she spoke soothingly, "Sirius is gone. He wouldn't want you to spend the rest of your life denying it. He died trying to help you."
Harry stood up, the anger he had been suppressing since that night he wrecked Dumbledore's office let loose once again, "HE IS NOT DEAD! NO ONE KNOWS THAT! I WILL NOT OPEN THAT WILL UNTIL I HAVE PROOF HE IS DEAD!"
Hermione stood up and calmly faced him, holding the will in front of her, "Harry James Potter, do you know one thing about Wizard wills? I don't think you do so I will tell you these are enchanted to only I mean ONLY be delivered when the death of the individual is confirmed by the Wizengamot committee on death. Who by the way are the ones in charge of that veil thing in the Department of Mysteries. So that means SIRIUS IS DEAD!" She finished her tirade standing less than a foot in front of him holding the will up to him like a talisman.
"No," he croaked out as he slumped to the floor covering his face, tears spilling around his hands.
She sat down next to him and dropping the will, gathered him into a hug, "I'm very sorry. I know you loved Sirius like the father you never got to know. I will not allow you to ignore this any longer though. The world needs you to be strong Harry I need you to be strong, so we can someday live our lives and not fear Voldemort attacking us all the time." She continued holding him as he cried she tried to pour her love into him through her embrace. Some time later he seemed to collect himself, he sat up a little, no longer slumped into her.
"But now I am alone, utterly alone," he spoke not looking at her.
She grabbed his shoulders and turned him to face her, "Look at me!" she commanded. He looked up, his eyes bloodshot from crying. He looked very fragile at that moment. "Obviously I'm not making myself clear enough to get through that thick head of yours. I have told you I am here to help you and I have told you I am never letting you out of my sight. In case you missed it the first thing I told you when I got here last night was "you're not alone anymore Harry. You'll never be alone again." I meant that Harry. You are the reason I push so hard to learn everything – I am trying to help you prepare to face Voldemort – I need to prepare myself to be worthy of standing beside you and to help you in any way I can in the final battle with Voldemort. In the end Harry if you die fighting Voldemort then there is no reason for me to continue living, I LOVE YOU HARRY, YOU ARE MY LIFE!" She was unable to hold that inside her any longer. She poured her strength into her words as she refused to let him look away from her.
Revelation mixed with deep concern ran rampant across his face, "No, you can't love me – Voldemort will kill you just to make me suffer if he ever hears that – No, I can't let you suffer for me – No we'll have to stage some scene where you announce that you hate me." He spoke in a very passionate voice as though her life depended on it.
She shook her head slowly, "No Harry! I am going to stand with you and you will not stop me. My life is mine to do with as I please and I have chosen to tie it to yours, we live or die together Harry Potter. I have no intention of ever letting you stand alone I have spent the last five years of my life trying to be what you needed when you needed it. Who solved the devils snare? – Who solved the potion riddle? – Who discovered the basilisk was the monster in the Chamber of Secrets? – Who discovered how the basilisk was getting around unseen? – Who helped you face Sirius Black when we thought he was a madman and a murderer? – Who almost died with you and Sirius by that lake when the Dementors came for him? – Who believed you when you said you had not put your name into the Goblet of Fire? – Who taught you how to summon your broom? – Who went with you to the Department of Mysteries when she knew it was a trap? – Who fell when she was stupid and silenced her opponent instead of stunning him? – Who always stands by you when NO ONE ELSE DOES? – WHO HARRY? – WHO?" Tear streamed down her cheeks unchecked. She felt cleansed, no more secrets from him she had let it all out. There was nothing left but to see how he reacted she stared at him and waited.
Finally he reached out and hugged her to him tightly. He held her close and cried she felt his tears landing on her shoulder. Her arms went around his chest, hugging him back, as she slid into his lap. "You Hermione, you, it has always been you. You are the one person I can always count on to be there for me. You don't look at me and see The-Boy-Who-Lived. You see me, the boy who doesn't want to do his homework and the boy who wants to play Quidditch. I don't know how I can possibly live up to your expectations of me but I will do the best I can. For you anything, you ask it and I'll do it. Want me to study twenty hours a day, I will. As long as you are there with me I will do whatever it takes to make you happy. I can't possibly deserve to be loved by you but I will try."
They sat there crying in each others arms. When they had both begun to calm down Harry turned her head towards him and could resist no longer he kissed her softly. She immediately wrapped her arms around his neck and grabbed onto his hair. She crushed his face into hers, their tongues met and they tasted each other for the first time. A long minute later they pulled away. Harry spoke in between his gasping for breath, "I Love You Hermione Granger. Will you marry me?"
Hermione was briefly stunned then answered with the only answer that she could possibly give, "Yes Harry Yes. Shouldn't we date a bit first though?"
Harry smiled, "Well dating is for getting to know someone and we have spent the last five years doing that. I doubt there is anything you don't know about me. In fact you probably know more about me than I do. Though I'm sure there are things I don't know about you I will certainly never change my mind about this. You want to spend every day with me from now on? I can't imagine my life without you in it. You are the source of my strength. I need you; more than anything, I need you."
"Well then when do you want to set the date for the ceremony then? Tomorrow wouldn't be soon enough for me."
"Hmm, well I was thinking after we graduate really," he admitted.
She shook her head vigorously, "No we could both be dead by then. I want to live every minute from this moment on as your wife. From now on I want to be Hermione Jane Potter."
"Ok, ok, well how about some time next month then? I really want to get out of here first. We need to get you a ring, find a place for the wedding, and send out invitations. I want to have a proper wedding, you deserve nothing less."
She could see he was not trying to avoid the wedding indefinitely so she gave in, "Ok, we will have a proper wedding as soon as it can be arranged ok?"
He sat up sharply, "I just thought of a problem here."
"Well neither of us is of age to get married?" He looked concerned as he thought then continued, "With Sirius dead who do I talk to? He was my guardian."
"Oh my, that could be a problem. Well I can talk to my parents and I guess we will need to talk to Dumbledore to find out who is your new guardian." She hugged him again then kissed him soundly before struggling to her feet. She reached down to help him up and saw the will lying on the floor, "We still need to open that will and see what Sirius had to say."
Harry's smile was wiped from his face in an instant, "Oh, well, it concerns you as much as me so I'll do a deal with you I'll open it if you read it. I want you to hear it with me and I don't think I could read it aloud."
"Ok, deal," she answered quickly.
He picked up the will and went to sit on the couch. She conjured two large glasses of chilled pumpkin juice then joined him. He met her gaze then took the glass from her. They both drank deeply then placed both glasses on the floor. He looked at the thick envelope and opened it. Then he pulled out several thick folded sheets of parchment. He opened them and handed them to her and let his left hand fall to his lap with the envelope. She took them and smoothed them out before starting to read.
"I Sirius Black being of sound mind (shut up Remus) and body do declare before these two witnesses this to be my last will and testament.
Well Harry I must first apologize to you for not being around to help. I have been your legal guardian for the last fifteen years. I deeply regret spending twelve of those years in Azkaban.
Please understand I have loved you like a son. Lily and James would be immensely pleased with how you have grown up. You have inherited the best traits of both your parents. Lily was always fair and willing to help others James was fun and outgoing, both were above all honest.
I have chosen to make Dan and Emma Granger your legal guardians."
Hermione stopped reading at that, "Harry, my parents are your new guardians! Well that solves that other problem doesn't it?"
"But I have barely met them before. I was thinking it might be Remus. Oh I hope your parents like me Hermione," he thought out loud.
"Of course my parents will like you. It's not like I haven't been talking about you all summer long for the last five years." She looked back to the will and picked up where she left off.
"I have chosen to make Dan and Emma Granger your new legal guardians. You will find with this will a sealed letter for them."
"Harry look inside the envelope."
He did and sure enough there was another envelope inside. When he pulled it out an elaborate silver key fell into his lap, "I wonder what this is for." He picked up the key and walked over to his desk. He left the key there and woke Hedwig, "Take this letter to Hermione's parent's girl. Wait to see if they have a reply ok?"
Hedwig gave him an affectionate nip then took up the letter. He opened the window for her and with an immense flap of her wings she was off.
After the window was closed she started reading again.
"I discussed this with them while you were in school so it won't be a shock to them. Hermione didn't know anything about this Harry. Please send the envelope to them as soon as possible, they will need to sign the paperwork inside and return it to my solicitor at Gringotts. Anything that you need parental consent for they can now handle. I hope you can find some comfort in my choice of them as your guardians. I know there is no more important person in your life than Hermione. In fact I would be very surprised if she was not reading this to you now. Hello Hermione, take care of Harry please he needs you, now more than ever."
Hermione answered softly, "I will Sirius, I will."
"I must also apologize for not taking you to your parent's graves. Please ask Albus or Remus to take you there when you are ready. I think you should do this soon.
Ok now on to the inheritance part. I have held in trust your parents' estate in Godric's Hollow. That is now yours, the house can be found there along with their graves. Albus collected many of your parents personal belonging's after they were killed. My Gringott's solicitor has this box with specific directions to give it only to you or Hermione.
I know this will be of no comfort to you but your vault at Gringotts has probably now doubled in size. The Black fortune meager as it may be is now yours. Please feel free to distribute money to your friends in my name.
The Black family mansion at 12 Grimmauld place is now yours. Unfortunately this also includes Kreacher, maybe Hermione can reform him, but I think he is beyond that. I ask you to allow the Order to continue using it as their headquarters. Otherwise you are more than welcome to gut the whole place and start over.
Please accept my apology for not being there for you any longer. You are a wonderful person and will certainly make a good husband to that witch you so rely on.
Love from Eternity
They sat there for almost an hour. Just holding each other as they thought of Sirius and his will. This would certainly change their lives immensely.
*** *** ***
Emma and Dan had just finished a pleasant lunch together at home and were about to go back to their office. As they walked out to their car Dan noticed a snowy owl flying towards them. "Emma dear, look," he pointed at the approaching owl.
They had seen Hedwig on several occasions before so they knew this was a message from either Harry or Hermione. Hedwig landed on their fence post nearest the garage. Dan approached her and said "What have you got there girl?"
Hedwig offered the letter to Dan, which he took.
"Emma dear, call the office, we are going to be late getting back I think." Dan held the envelope for her to see
Emma gasped when she saw that it was from Sirius. "Meet you in the kitchen and we will read it together."
Hedwig flew over and landed on Dan's shoulder as he started walking inside.
"Oh Hedwig thank you for staying, you're right I think we will need your services in a bit." Dan spoke to Hedwig as he walked carefully inside, the large snowy owl clutching tightly to his shoulder.
Emma was on the phone with their secretary back at the office when he walked inside "No Susan I'm sorry we will not be able to make it back for at least another hour, Call Dr. Michaels if you must, bye we'll see you when we make it in."
Hedwig flew off of Dan's shoulder and landed on the high back of one of the kitchen chairs and hooted softly.
Emma took a small bowl out of the cupboard and filled it with water. "Here you go dear," she said as she placed the bowl in front of Hedwig.
Dan had already opened the envelope. There was a letter to them from Sirius and along legal document with two flashing orange neon boxes at the bottom.
As Emma sat down Dan started reading the letter out loud to her.
If you have this then Harry has read my will and I am dead. I hope Hermione is with him, he will need her now more than ever. As we agreed I now ask that you formally accept the legal guardianship of Harry James Potter. Please sign the enclosed legal gibberish. This will transfer the guardianship to you. Please forward the legal document to my solicitor at Gringotts.
I know you have never really met Harry. I am certain you have heard a lot about him from your wonderful daughter. Please make arrangements to meet Harry and get to know him. Harry has had a difficult life and my passing will only worsen matters. I hope that my choice to make you his guardians will be a comfort to him.
Some in the wizarding community may question my decision to make you his guardians. Judging you from your incredible daughter I have every faith in you both. You are what Harry needs, loving parents. Harry will some day face and God willing defeat the Dark Lord. He will need all the support and love he can get.
Yours from Eternity
"Well that's it then dear," Dan said. Emma already had out her pen and had been reading through the legal document now before them. She quickly signed her name in the left hand box. The box which had been flashing neon orange stopped flashing. She spun the document to Dan and gave him her pen. Dan signed in the flashing orange box on the right. It too stopped flashing and a white flash of light enveloped the entire document. When they looked back at the document there was a large wax seal at the bottom and several ribbons were attached to the document.
"Ahh I guess its legal now Dan, Let's spend our summer vacation with Harry and Hermione wherever they may be."
"That sounds like a good idea. Fold that up somehow for Hedwig, I will write Hermione a quick letter for her to take back to them."
With that Dan got up and went to his desk in the study. He returned a few minutes later with a folded sheet of paper. Emma had rolled the legal parchment up and it was now tied to Hedwig's leg. Somehow the parchment looked a lot smaller than it should be. Dan gave Hedwig the note to Hermione then addressed her. "Hedwig please take the scroll to Gringotts, It goes to Sirius's solicitor but I'm sorry we don't know his name. Then take that note to Hermione."
Hedwig seemed to nod her head in understanding.
Emma was just opening the sliding glass doors when Hedwig took flight. In a moment she was gone. Dan grabbed the letter; placing it back in the envelope he stuck it in his pocket. Emma closed the sliding door and they headed back to the garage, arm in arm.
"You know dear I feel we have just gotten that son I always wanted."
Emma thought; Maybe we just gained our son-in-law a little early, "But he's a Potter Dan, not a Granger."
"I know but you can't have everything in life."
*** *** ***
At the Burrow
Ron was bored. Maybe he should have taken that job offer from Fred and George. That's where Ginny was right now, Diagon Alley. The twins shop had really taken off. Ron however, refused to work over his summer holiday. He found himself virtually alone at the Burrow now, only his mum was there during the day. It had never seemed so deserted. There had always been loads of things going on. Ron was finding that left to his own devices all he could think of was reading about Quidditch or walking in the woods. At least at night Ginny and Dad came home. Fred and George never left their shop these days; they had a flat above the shop they shared with their girlfriends Alicia and Angelina.
Today he had decided to go exploring in the woods behind the Burrow. He had never wandered this far in this direction so at least it was something new to do. Suddenly he heard a girl's voice singing a rather familiar song in a dreamy voice.
Weasley Is Our King,
Weasley Is Our King,
He didn't let the Quaffle in,
Weasley Is Our King...
He turned towards the source of the voice, hurrying along. He was nearly sprinting around a large tree when he suddenly slammed head first into the girl who had been singing. Their heads banged together and they fell into a tangled heap on the ground. The girl's long blond hair whipped about his head. Ron found himself lying on top of her. He immediately rolled off of her and onto his back beside her. He laid there while the stars cleared then sat up and said. "OY! Watch where you're walkin!"
The girl who seemed unable to lift her head said, "You watch where you're going Ronald Weasley!"
Ron who suddenly realized it was Luna Lovegood answered quietly, "Oh sorry Luna, I wasn't looking where I was going."
"It's ok Ronald; I don't think there is any permanent harm done." She reached up and held the back of her wrist to her forehead before continuing dramatically. "Though my head hurts and I still feel dizzy." Luna tried to sit up but seemed unable to manage on her own so Ron moved a bit closer and helped her.
Both of them suddenly spoke at once, almost in unison, "So what are you doing here?"
Both of them seemed to wait for the other to answer then again they answered the question together, "I live just over there" they said pointing in opposite directions.
After another awkward moment in which they both thought about that they finished together, "Really?"
They both began laughing Ron finally managed, "Wow we sound just like..."
Luna didn't let him finish as she chimed in, "…Fred and George, except..."
Ron continued, "They finish each others sentences."
They both started laughing harder this time. Then suddenly Luna clutched her temples and said, "Oh my head," as she collapsed into Ron's arms, limp as a rag doll.
Oh Damn, Ron thought, I must have hurt her badly after all. Ron did the only thing he could think of. He scooped her up and ran towards the Burrow as fast as he could.
Mum will know what to do; she has to know what to do, Ron prayed as he ran through the woods. Luna was a small girl but she became heavier and heavier the longer Ron ran. Ten minutes later a very exhausted Ron staggered onto the porch of the Burrow and hurried inside. He tried to holler for his mum but could only breathe loudly. His mum was not in the kitchen so he continued into the living room and laid Luna on the couch. Just then he heard his mum come up behind him.
"What Happened Ron? Who is this girl?"
Gulping air he could only manage to say, "Bumped heads, Luna," as he collapsed onto the ground holding his side.
Molly rushed over and looked at Luna. "She's out and her pupils are dilated. That thick head of yours Ronald Weasley, looks like you gave her a concussion." With that she left the living room and went to the kitchen.
She returned a minute later with a small potion vial. When she uncorked it the entire room was filled with the most obnoxious odor Ron had ever experienced.
She waved the noxious vial under Luna's nose and suddenly Luna was coughing and sputtering. Molly quickly stoppered the offending vial, "You'll be all right in a few minutes dear. Just relax there." Molly told Luna reassuringly.
"What? Where am I?" Luna sighed
"I carried you to the Burrow, my home; and this is my mum Molly," Ron explained still rather breathless.
"Don't sit up yet dear," Molly pushed Luna back down onto the couch. "Just rest a minute dear. Ron's head is a very hard thing to go bumping into."
"Ron go get her some chilled pumpkin juice," she ordered.
"Yes mum," Ron said as he struggled to his feet still winded from carrying Luna so far. Good thing she wasn't heavy! He thought as he entered the kitchen. He could hear Luna and his mum talking quietly. Ron pulled the decanter of pumpkin juice from the chiller and poured two glasses. He returned the decanter to the chiller and carried the glasses to the living room.
When Molly saw him re-enter the room she helped Luna sit up, "Ok dear sit up slowly and drink some juice."
Ron came over after Luna had finished sitting up and handed her one of the glasses. He sat down close beside her on the couch just in case she couldn't hold the glass just yet. He then took a long drink of his own juice.
After making sure Luna was also drinking her juice Molly spoke, "Well now Ronald maybe Luna can keep you out of trouble for the rest of the summer. You have all said such nice things about her, she sounds as sweet and helpful as Hermione," and she walked from the room, "I'll be in the garden if you need me."
Ron blushed at his mother's comments.
Luna chuckled brightly and looked at Ron questioningly.
He managed to answer Luna's look, "I haven't had anyone to even talk to this summer, everyone is away except me and mum."
"Oh that sounds like my summers. It's just me and Dad and he is at the office most of the time."
Ron suddenly realized he was sitting very close to her on the couch. He was turned sideways facing her, his arm behind her on the couch. I'm just being ready incase she passes out again or something. Or what? He chided himself. Apparently Luna had just realized how intimately they were sitting because she batted her eyelashes at him before speaking.
"Do you mind if we just sit here and talk a while? I don't want to get up just yet," and she leaned back relaxing onto the couch and coincidentally Ron's arm.
Well maybe I can find something to do with my time after all? Ron thought.
Ron was never sure what they had talked about, definitely Quidditch had come up. It was nice to find a girl he could talk to about that. Hermione never wanted to talk about Quidditch. An hour seemed to have magically passed while they were talking.
Luna apparently decided it was time to help get dinner ready when Molly came back inside with a basket of things from the garden, "Oh let me help you with those ma'am."
"No dear, why don't you two go for a walk or something dinner is still a few hours away and there are only five of us to feed tonight, that's if you're staying for dinner dear?"
"Yes please, Father won't be home until after midnight. Ronald what happened to my wand and my Quibbler?"
"They must still be on the ground by the tree, let's go get them."
Ron couldn't understand quite what was going on but it seemed to be something important. He found himself slowly walking back to the big oak tree that marked their meeting talking quietly with Luna.
Molly Weasley grinned to herself as she watched them walk down towards the stream hand in hand.