Sorry this update took literally months. My apologies. On the bright side, my inattention to this story led in part to getting a 4.0 for my first semester of college! Enjoy this last chapter. Read through again if you've forgotten what's going on. I won't blame you if you have.
Previously: Hermione narrowly avoids injury in ancient runes class, Dumbledore's sleep-talking results in the telling of the prophesy to Harry and Hermione. The prophesy is examined, and alternate summer quarters are considered for Harry.
"So... what now?" Harry asked, releasing Hermione from his arms. She sat up and was silent in thought for a time.
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "That's a lot to take in." A smile spread across Harry's face once again.
"I'm just happy that I don't have to go back to the Dursley's place again! Did you really mean it when you said I could stay with you?" He looked at her apprehensively, hoping that what she said wasn't hyperbole intended to force Dumbledore to keep him at the Dursley's.
"Well, I'd have to ask my parents' permission to be sure but as far as I'm concerned, yes, I meant it. I'll not let them send you back there again." His smile grew wider at this and he hugged her tightly.
"Thank you so much. You're the best, Hermione!" She blushed at his praise and hugged him back.
"I'll owl my parents tonight," she said, and stood carefully to begin writing a letter to them.
Meanwhile, Number 4 Privet Drive was in a bit of a shambles. Such things tend to happen to muggle homes when several incredibly angry and powerful wizards invade to investigate claims of abuse of a magical child. Because the Dursleys knew about magic, they could legally be tried in a magical court on abuse and neglect charges. While peace reigned on the outside, the inside of the house was a disaster and rapidly becoming worse.
Amelia Bones was furious when Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall arrived in her office to report this crime. She had half a mind to charge Dumbledore with negligence as well for placing Harry with them in the first place, but agreed that the muggles must be investigated first.
As head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Madam Bones sent an auror squad to accompany Dumbledore and McGonagall to the residence. Within moments the Dursleys, who had been sitting in front of the television, were startled to find eight people wearing robes and angry expressions standing in front of them, wands drawn. They were hardly a threat and were easily stilled with full body-binds while the aurors and two professors searched the house. McGonagall was almost reduced to tears, even as strong as she was, when they found the tiny room under the stairs where Harry had lived for almost a decade of his short life. She immediately rounded on Dumbledore and while the aurors finished investigating the residence, she verbally berated him for the conditions Harry had to endure due to his oversight.
Long story short, all three Dursleys were incarcerated in the ministry pending a trial, and Dumbledore and McGonagall returned to Hogwarts in very sober moods.
"I told you," McGonagall growled at Dumbledore for what must have been the hundredth time. "I told you they were the worst sort of muggles!"
"How was I to know what they were to do to him? I thought they would treat him like a son!"
McGonagall scoffed, "It's a wonder the boy turned out to be so kind after all that." Dumbledore nodded sadly.
"I hope he forgives us," he murmured.
"I think he will, but the problem remains - where will he go now?"
"It seems Miss Granger is quite eager for him to stay with her. Of course, protections would need to be put on their house," Dumbledore suggested.
"They need to be protected anyway. Purebloods hate that a muggleborn is the smartest witch in her class. I've been concerned for her safety for a while, and since this latest attack on her, I suggest we increase security for her as well," McGonagall said as they approached the hospital wing.
"It would probably be easier to protect them both if they lived in the same place, true," Dumbledore replied as they opened the door.
They found only Madame Pomfrey straightening the sheets on one of the beds. The two students were nowhere in sight.
"They've just left for the owlery," the mediwitch informed them. "Hermione is sending a letter asking her parents if they would let Harry stay with them."
"We could ask her parents ourselves," McGonagall suggested. "It would seem a good bit more legitimate to them." Dumbledore agreed and they set out to intercept the two students.
While Hermione was more certain of success with two teachers going to speak with her parents, she was still very nervous. She refused to eat until they returned, though Harry urged her to do so. She stood up quickly when the doors to the hospital wing opened to reveal a serene Dumbledore and a gently smiling Professor McGonagall. At a simple nod from her head of house, Hermione squealed with joy and hugged Harry tight. He was frozen in amazement briefly, but then his face lit up as well.
"Thank you, sir, madam," he said respectfully.
"There's one thing we must ask of you, Harry," Dumbledore said gently.
"The Dursleys' are facing a trial in wizarding court for what they did to you. If you do not wish to attend in person, I'd like to have a copy of your memories to present to the court." Harry's smile fell.
"If you wish, sir, though I'd rather not see them again if I can help it. How... how would you copy my memories?"
Dumbledore introduced him to the concept of a penseive, while McGonagall informed Hermione of the visit with her parents. They had been concerned at Hermione's injury and had welcomed extra protection. They were a bit reluctant to let a boy they'd never met before stay in their house, but considering how often and favorably Hermione had written to them about him, they agreed.
Harry and Hermione were both overjoyed. Though it would be a while until they went to Hermione's house for the summer, it was a great relief to Harry that he would never have to return to the Dursleys. There was still the matter of letting Dumbledore copy his more painful memories to bring to their hearing, but he knew Hermione would be there with him if he asked. Speaking of Hermione, he was glad to see that she was nearly well enough to walk without wrapping her joints. Her hand didn't hurt much at all any more, though she still had some trouble with stairs. She decided to stay in the hospital wing for a few more nights, but accompanied Harry almost everywhere else, from meals to classes, to a lovely walk on the grounds one evening.
"Hermione, I know it's kind of really cheesy... but I'm glad we're friends. I'm glad I met you. I really am. I'm so lucky to be your boyfriend." She smiled at him and cupped his cheek in her hand.
"I'm glad we're friends, too," she said simply, before pulling him close and kissing him tenderly. "I'm lucky to be your girlfriend."
They were content just sitting together beside the lake, watching the sun go down, turning the water from blue, to gold, to red, and finally to black, while the sky looked like it was on fire before being finally extinguished by nightfall. They were quiet together, just enjoying time together. Both were glad to find a companion, a friend, perhaps even a love, at last.
It's over... don't throw stuff.
I know it was short and a bit cheesy. But it's done!
Merry Christmas, dear readers. Someday I suppose I'll go back and edit, but until then, enjoy this and always remember that you are blessed. Be well!