Harry Potter and the Garus Glitch
Chapter 1: What He Would Have Wanted
A/N: Obviously, I don't own Harry Potter, just this alternate plot. Just a reminder: This is meant to replace book 7 (Deathly Hallows) in the series. I started writing it right after book 6 (Half-Blood Prince) came out, back in 2005. I posted it on a different site for a while. When I began posting it here in 2009, 23 chapters were already written, out of a predicted total of 27. NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE: I have not abandoned this story. It was put on the back burner while I wrote some Twilight fics, and then life just got in the way. I'm back now. Not only will I finish this story, but I'm adding a soundtrack! One song per chapter, the full soundtrack can be seen on my profile page. Song for this chapter: "Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World. Enjoy, and please review. :)
"Oh, Geeny, I left my grandmuzzers earrings by ze bed! Could you get zem for me?" Fleur spoke distractedly, as she fussed with her veil, glaring at her reflection in the mirror. "And vere is 'Ermione?! Ze ceremony starts in thirty minutes!"
"She's with the boys, Fleur," Mrs. Weasley said, coming to help adjust the veil herself, "Ron said they needed her for something."
"So do I," Fleur said passionately, "she is my bridesmaed! Geeny, go find 'er vould you? And quickly!"
"We have to make this quick, Harry," Hermione said. "Ginny won't tolerate Fleur, alone, for long. Did you write the note?"
"Yeah, it's done," Harry said, handing her a roll of parchment tied with a scarlet ribbon. Hermione's hand shook slightly as she took it. Harry gave her a bracing look. "We have to do it, Hermione. We decided-"
"I know." Hermione whispered, "It's for the best."
"Make sure McGonagall reads it," Ron said gently. "And not a moment too soon, or it won't work."
"I know," Hermione repeated more firmly, tucking the parchment into a concealed pocket in the tulle skirt of the pale blue dress robes Fleur had chosen for her bridesmaids. Hermione gave the boys a solemn look that was broken by Ginny's voice, very insistently calling her name, and left to join her.
The ceremony was beautiful. The long hall was lined with chairs and feather-soft blue cushions. There were white roses, lilies, and bluebells everywhere. Hermione, Ginny, and the several other bridesmaids all wore the same floaty blue dress robes. Some of the men in the room actually fainted when Fleur entered. The gown she wore draped over her tall, willowy frame like silk, but looked as light as air. Her pale blonde hair cascaded down to her hips, and her usually faint, silvery veela glow shone more brightly than ever.
Harry, Ron, Fred, George, and Charlie all stood beside Bill throughout the ceremony. Mrs. Weasley seemed to be barely holding herself together, her giddy smile framed by joyous tears, falling down her face. Mr. Weasley was almost in tears, as well. He radiated pride in his oldest son.
The reception was also stunning. Orbs of golden light floated freely around the room, lingering over the tables filled with Order members, students and staff from Hogwarts that were close to the Weasleys, and some of Fleur's family. The food was impeccable, courtesy of the house elves from Hogwarts that had been divided amongst the Order members upon the school's closing. A gesture Hermione was very appreciative of, knowing the Order would treat them kindly.
A popular wizard band called the Bludger Boys played a mix of odd songs for the various couples on the dance floor. Harry gladly noticed that Remus and Tonks spent more time dancing together than any other couple. Ron and Hermione got a couple of dances in, as did Neville and Luna. Harry and Ginny started one dance together, but stopped mid-song, too uncomfortable with their present, but non-existent relationship.
The toasts and speeches were very emotional. As tradition established, the couple was, of course, praised and applauded. In addition, the general group voiced mutual appreciation for a joyous occasion, in the midst of difficult times. A large number of the group cried tears of remorse and remembrance when Bill pointed out, in his speech, that a seat at the ceremony and reception had been deliberately left empty for Dumbledore, in full belief that he would always be with them. Harry, Ron, and Hermione shifted uncomfortably at the resulting turn to Dumbledore in the conversations around them.
Harry found Ron's foot under the table and lightly kicked it with his own. Ron nodded subtly, and Harry saw Hermione nod when Ron's foot had, undoubtedly, found her feet as well. Hermione got up first, and went to talk to McGonagall, at the bar at the back of the room. Harry and Ron casually made their way to the exit of the hall that led to the rooms they'd been staying in. As they passed by Hermione, they heard a bit of her conversation with McGonagall:
"Well, Harry wrote this big toast for us to give, together," Hermione said, "but after everyone started talking about Dumbledore…"
"Yes, we all understand how hard all of this has been on you three, Ms. Granger," McGonagall said, kindly. "Potter, in particular, had been spending so much more time with Albus…"
"Professor, we would really like everyone to hear what we wanted to say," Hermione said, "but we just can't say it ourselves, right now. We were hoping you might read it for us, while we step outside for a moment. Harry and Ron are on their way out, now. I just came to give you the note. Would you please read it for us, Professor?"
"Yes, of course I will, Ms. Granger," McGonagall sniffed. "You just go with Potter and Weasley; I'll read it for you."
"Thank you, Professor," Hermione said. She handed McGonagall the parchment bound with the scarlet ribbon and headed towards the doors Harry and Ron had just passed through. No sooner was she through the doors when tears sprung from her eyes, falling down her cheeks. Ron took her hand and was whispering to her soothingly as the three of them walked quietly down the hall towards their rooms.
McGonagall contemplated the parchment in her hands for a moment before making her way to the head of the room, untying the scarlet ribbon as she went. When she reached the front of the room, she tapped a wine goblet with her wand, so it rang with a full, resonant chime. Everyone quieted and gazed in her direction.
"Forgive me," she spoke clearly, "but it seems Harry, Ron, and Hermione have one more note to contribute. They asked that I read it for them." There was a rustle as guests shifted in their seats to give McGonagall their undivided attention. Ginny looked around for the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. She wasn't sure why, but something suddenly felt very wrong to her. Remus, sitting at a neighboring table, seemed to sense a problem too.
McGonagall unrolled the parchment, and began to read: "I'm sorry, but this is not a happy toast to the couple…" McGonagall paused as though the words had left a bitter taste in her mouth. Her audience exchanged glances. "The prophecy about me and Voldemort that was smashed in the Department of Mysteries was still known by Professor Dumbledore. That night, after the incident in the Ministry, he told me the full prophecy, and asked that I only tell it to Ron and Hermione. Keeping to that promise, I'm afraid I can't tell you all the contents of the prophecy, now. I can tell you, though, that the prophecy is truly irrelevant to the task as hand…"
Someone whispered, "Then why was You-Know-Who so keen on it?" McGonagall continued reading, though:
"In my meetings with Dumbledore that only began as Occlumency lessons, we actually discussed secret plans progressing towards Voldemort's defeat. Again, I can't explain much of their content, as that information was only intended for me, Ron, and Hermione to hear, for the safety of everyone else. All that I can comfortably tell you is that Voldemort, for now, is as good as immortal..."
There was a collective gasp and a couple quiet screams at this revelation, even in its delicate context. McGonagall was very pale as she proceeded to read: "And the only way he can be stopped is by me, Ron, and Hermione, finishing what we started with Dumbledore. The hardest part is that, to keep all of you as safe as possible, the three of us must leave you and press on alone…"
The word was echoed by many voices. McGonagall's eyes widened as she continued to read in a higher octave: "We're sorry to do this, but by the time you've read this part of this note, we'll already be gone…"
"NO!" That was Ginny's scream, as she bolted for the doors to the bedrooms, sending her chair flying. Remus was at her heels, looking horribly sick. The room stood uncomfortably still, as if petrified. Ginny and Remus' shouts rang from the hall where they were desperately searching for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but no answer ever came. When they reentered the room, Ginny was sobbing, and Remus was frighteningly pale, his own eyes glistening, and his body shaking. McGonagall looked down at the note and realized there was more to read. She finished reading it in a barely audible, strangled voice:
"We'll write to you when we've settled into a safe place to stay. We'll still need your help with some things. Though we'll lay low for the most part, we do plan on giving Voldemort and the Death Eaters a small hint at our separation from you, and its cause. That should take the majority of their focus off of you, and keep them focused on us, as is our hope. Understand, we feel horrible, leaving you right after what happened to Dumbledore, but if this war is ever going to end, and if Voldemort is to be stopped once and for all, it has to be done. It's what Dumbledore would have wanted…"
It was as if someone else had died. Most were silent, some were crying. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny were doubled over on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. Mr. Weasley was holding his wife tightly. Remus was stroking Ginny's hair while big, round tears glided down his own deathly white face. McGonagall was staring at the note in her hand, splashed with some of her own tears, willing the writing on it to disappear and for this to be a horrible dream, but she didn't wake.
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger… Three students she was proud to call her own. And from her house! She bit her lower lip to quell its trembling as she thought to herself if she would ever see them again.