Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters.
A/N: Yeah, finally I'm starting the follow up story to my Changing the Future: Reading Deathly Hallows. I hope you liked this chapter.
Thanks to SingularityStar, who is my beta for this story.
It was odd, waking up after everything they had just experienced. It would have been easy to think it was some kind of strange dream, if it weren't for the fact that after a few moments it was clear that they had seemed to have shared the same dream. Not to mention the details seemed to be too well formed to be a simple dream.
"Did all that really happen?" Harry questioned as he lifted himself off the floor looking at his best friends and Ginny before dusting himself off.
"If you're talking about us reading a book about your future..." Ron started.
"Our future," Hermione corrected.
"Fine, our future," Ron said, feeling suddenly giddy as he looked at Hermione, knowing that indeed it wasn't a dream, "then yes, it did really happen."
"Hmm…we probably should write down all the major points that we remember," Hermione said thoughtfully. "It almost feels as if we're waking from a dream, what if the details start to slip like they do in a dream?"
"I'm sure that's not going..." Ron started to say.
"You really don't know that," Hermione said shaking her head, leaving the room quickly.
Ron watched her go with an amused expression. "It doesn't look like she's ever going to change."
"Would you ever want her to?" Ginny asked with a smirk.
"Of course not," Ron chuckled. "I think I'll go check to see how everyone else is doing."
"Cool," Harry said, planning on following his friend, but looking at Ginny he knew he had to say something to her first. "I'll catch up with you later."
"Sure," Ron said with a grimace, looking as if he would have preferred to stay so he could stop whatever it was that was about to happen between his best friend and his little sister. Catching the glare from his sister, however, he decided it was best for him to leave after all.
"So," Ginny said after Ron left.
"Yeah," Harry said nervously.
An awkward silence filled the room as Harry tried to think of what to say, but he didn't have any clue.
"Say something, Harry," Ginny sighed.
"I don't know what to say," he answered truthfully.
"Just tell me what you're thinking," Ginny replied simply.
"Haven't you heard enough of my thoughts over the past few days?" Harry joked, trying to smile but he couldn't.
"Those weren't your thoughts, Harry, at least not yet," Ginny shrugged. "I need to know what you're thinking now..." she hesitated before adding, "about us."
Harry sat on one of the beds in the room and closed his eyes. "I honestly don't know."
"Harry..." his hesitation hurt her more than she thought it would.
"Gin, how the hell am I supposed to know what to think after everything we just read?" Harry said looking at her, suddenly pleading her to understand. "Three days ago you were just..."
"Ron's little sister," Ginny said scornfully. "Yeah, I know."
"You were my friend, Ginny," Harry corrected. "You still are, of course... I just meant that you're one of my friends. One of my closest friends..."
"Harry!" Ginny said, raising an eyebrow as if to say that he should get to the point.
"I never thought of you in any other way before... I've never looked at you like... you know, like a girlfriend..." Harry said honestly.
Ginny couldn't deny that this hurt somewhat, but she tried to play it calmly as she asked, "And what about now? Do you think of me like that now?"
Harry stared at her, her brown eyes boring into his and again he answered honestly. "Yes."
Ginny smiled at this, but she could see there was more to that comment. She sighed, "Just say it, Harry."
"I still like Cho..." Harry said and Ginny closed her eyes. "I'm sorry, Ginny. I wish I could say something different, but it's the truth."
"I know it is, Harry," Ginny said, trying to cover her disappointment. "You've never been a good liar."
"And you're going out with Michel Corner, aren't you?" Harry wasn't sure why he said this, but he felt that he should point out that she wasn't exactly available either.
"Yeah, I am, but something tells me that's not going to last," Ginny answered, crossing her arms; she couldn't remember anything she liked about Michael right now. She turned to leave the room but Harry stopped her from going.
"Ginny, please... just give me time to figure this out," he whispered to her.
Ginny looked up at him; his face was inches away from hers and she felt a strong desire to lean in and kiss him. However, the look in his eyes made her control that impulse.
"You haven't told me the real reason why you're hesitating yet, have you?" Ginny whispered back and he smiled weakly at her. She did lean into him, but instead of kissing him like she was dying to, she hugged him. Again whispering, she said, "Just don't make me wait too long, you know how impatient I am."
Harry held her to him for a second before he pulled away and smiled at her, "I'll try to keep that in mind."
Ginny left after that, heading to her room. For some reason she felt comforted and yet annoyed by her conversation with Harry. She was hoping that revealing she had a future with Harry would make her happy, but everything just seemed so complicated right now. Yes, this was mostly due to Harry being confused about their relationship, but she herself felt confused, too. As she lay in her bed and thought about what was going to come in the future, she seriously hoped that she wouldn't go back to being shy in front of Harry.
Ron walked downstairs to find most of the adults were in the kitchen talking. They stopped when they noticed him enter, giving him wary looks. He grimaced, hoping that they weren't going to go back to trying to hide everything from him now, not after all they had gone through together. It didn't help that his mum was giving him that look, the one that said she very much wanted to keep things from him. She sighed, and then waved him in.
Ron smiled at her when she did this, but her expression made him sad at the same time.
"I still wish I could keep you from this," Molly said to him, looking at him in the eye, "but I can't. Harry has no choice but to be involved, and I know that you're going to stand by him..."
Ron didn't know what to say to that, so he just let his mum hug him.
"What are you doing?" he asked when he noticed that Remus was bent over a piece of parchment.
"I'm just writing down everything that we've learned over the last few days," Remus said. "I want to make sure that we remember everything important."
"I told him it was pointless," Sirius said rolling his eyes. "We know what happened, but he insisted that he has to write everything down."
"Hermione's doing the same thing," Ron chuckled. "So, what are we planning on doing now?"
"I think we should get everyone together before we discuss that," Remus said thoughtfully. "At least everyone that's in the house. Could you go get the others, Ron?"
Ron grimaced, but did as he was asked. It didn't really take long for everyone to gather downstairs. Once together, they all turned to Remus, waiting for him to speak.
"So, what's going on?" Ron asked, impatiently.
Remus smiled at the young man before turning to the group at large. "I think we should recap what we had discussed in that room first."
Everyone seemed to agree with this as they began shouting out things over one another.
"Stop!" Harry said, making everyone look at him. "Sorry, I just think it would be better if we talk one at a time."
"Good point, Harry," Sirius chuckled, and then looked at Remus. "So where should we start anyway?"
"How about we start with what the others are planning on doing?" Remus suggested. Then, before anyone could interrupt him, he started to list their plans. "Dumbledore is going to go to the Room of Requirement to get the Lost Diadem and destroy it…"
"Oh, and we're supposed to find the locket," Sirius interrupted, "find out where Kreacher is hiding it."
"And speaking of Kreacher…" Hermione said, looking pointedly at Sirius.
"I know, I know. I'm going to have to try to be nice to him," Sirius sighed.
"I thought you were starting to like him as we read the book," Harry said.
"Yeah, he was all right," Sirius admitted. "But something tells me I'm not really going to see that side of him, even if I am nice to him...but I'll try."
"You saw how fast he came around when Harry was nice to him," Hermione frowned. "I don't see..."
"There's a lot of baggage when it comes to me and Kreacher," Sirius sighed. "I think if I make it clear I'm trying to help Reg, it will help... but we'll see."
"One thing's for sure though, the book said that Kreacher was talking to the Malfoys," Remus reminded them. "We can't let that happen this time, or at least not in the same way."
Sirius's eyes darkened; the book had also mentioned that part of the reason he had, or will die, was because of Kreacher talking to the Malfoys. This, of course, didn't make him want to be nice to the elf, but he pushed that aside for now.
"So what was Tonks supposed to do again?" Ginny asked, in an obvious attempt to change the subject.
Remus's mouth twitched upwards at just the mention of Tonks as he said, "She's telling Kingsley and Moody... well not exactly what happened but informing them that things have changed and we're planning on having a meeting soon."
"So, are we planning on telling them about what we learned in the book?" Harry asked.
"Dumbledore wasn't clear on that, but I don't think it would be such a bad idea," Remus said.
"If they were supposed to know, wouldn't Teddy have included them in the reading?" Fred pointed out.
Again, Remus's mouth twitched upwards, this time at the mention of his son. "We can't be sure of that. We have to think of some way to get into the Lestrange's vault, hopefully without causing a huge scene and escaping on the back of a dragon..."
"Oh come on, that sounded so fun," Harry mock pouted.
"Charlie's not going to like the sound of that," George chuckled.
"Anyway, Bill and Fleur are going to try and find out what they can about the vault, but I'm not sure how much they can do," Remus went on. "However, Kingsley might be able to use his position with the Ministry, and not to mention Fudge's approval of him. He might be able to find an opening somewhere."
"So, what about the other Horcrux? Who's going to go looking for the ring?" Molly questioned causing everyone to get tense.
"Now that is the question," Remus said gravely. "It's something that Dumbledore wanted to discuss during the meeting I know."
"There wasn't much detail in the book about that," Hermione said, looking at the notes she was writing. "I got the impression that Dumbledore was convinced that he put on the ring because he wanted to use it."
"Yes, I thought the same thing," Remus agreed as most the people in the room nodded their heads.
"But that still doesn't rule out the possibility that the ring was cursed," Hermione continued. "There might have been some kind of compulsory spell put on it that made whoever saw it want to wear it."
"Again, I thought of that too," Remus said. "And this is probably more of a problem for us now that we know what the ring is."
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked.
"Most of us would want to use the ring," Harry said, looking at Remus. "That's what you're thinking, right?"
"Yes," Remus agreed. "If there's a compulsory spell on the ring, one that was so powerful that it made Dumbledore forget that it was a Horcrux and possibly dangerous to him, it would be a danger to anyone. From everything that we've read, I doubt Voldemort knew that it was a Hallow, or what it could do, but that doesn't mean his spell wouldn't be all the more powerful now that we know.
"I can just see it now, it would make the desire to see our lost loved ones so appealing..." he continued. Just talking about it made him realize how much he wanted to see his friends again.
"We have to find someone that can handle the temptation," Harry said. "Do you think it would be easier if someone who didn't know what the stone was, tried to get the ring?"
"I honestly don't know," Remus said. "However, I think it would be best if more than one person goes... it might help."
"Maybe Snape should go," Sirius said.
"You know, that poor man is probably one of the most likely to want to use that ring," Molly said.
"Since when has Snape been 'that poor man'?" Sirius said making a face.
"I think that was about the time that he died to protect Harry," Fred said seriously.
Sirius grimaced at that and then turned to Molly. "I was only suggesting it because he mentioned something about how he might have been able to help more if he had gotten to Dumbledore quicker... I thought if something went wrong it would be good if he was on the scene."
"You might have a point, but there is no way that Severus can be anywhere near there," Remus said. "He's a spy, Sirius. It wouldn't be safe for him, or us, if Voldemort found out he had been anywhere near one of his Horcruxes."
"So what is Snape going to be doing now?" Ginny questioned.
"From what I gathered from his last comment to Dumbledore before we returned, he's going to work on his Occlumency," Remus said.
"Why would he need to work on that?" Harry asked. "I thought I was the one who needed to learn Occlumency?"
"Yes, you do," Remus said. "And I'm going to be the one who helps you, at least at first. I'm actually going to try to teach all three of you..." he motioned to Ron and Hermione as well.
"What about us?" Fred asked. "We want to learn how to close our minds off to evil villains."
"I can teach you the basics, but Harry's the one who needs to learn the most," Remus sighed.
"So why teach Hermione and me?" Ron questioned.
"Well, the hope is that Hermione might be able to get the hang of it before you go back to school and she would be able to help you learn more," Remus said with a smirk.
"I don't really see how that's going to help unless I know how to do Legilimency," Hermione mumbled.
"That's a good point," Remus said. "We should get started on that as soon as possible. I have to say that I'm only fairly good at Legilimency myself, or at least I'm not as good as Dumbledore or Severus, but hopefully I will be able to help you all."
"Wait, so you're not going to have Snape or Dumbledore teach me?" Harry said. "Even though they are better at it than you are?"
"Dumbledore is still under the belief that it would be dangerous to be around you, Harry," Remus said. "It's important that Voldemort doesn't realize how close you two are. As for Snape... well, I'm not sure what the reason is, but something tells me it has something to do with how his opinion of you has changed."
"What's that got to do with anything?" Ron asked.
"As we all know, Snape didn't like Harry at all," Remus said. "I'm not sure how he feels now, but I don't think he can loathe you like he did before, which only makes his job harder from now on. And seeing as he has to deal with Voldemort on a regular basis, he needs to work on his Occlumency and distance himself from Harry as much as possible."
Harry grimaced. "He's going to act like a complete git when we get back to school, isn't he?"
"I wouldn't be surprised if he was worse than before," Remus replied.
"Great," Harry groaned, "that's brilliant."
"I'm just wondering, what are we going to be doing while you're all out finding the Horcruxes?" Ron asked.
"Learning Occlumency with me," Remus said.
"But..." Harry started say.
"Harry, I know you don't like this," Sirius said, "that you're not as involved in all of this as you were supposed to be. Hell I don't like it... but that's only because I don't get to do anything either..."
"Sirius!" Remus said, exasperated.
"But the point is, the best thing you can do right now is learn Occlumency," Sirius continued. "You have to trust us to do our part, because we know you're going to do yours."
Harry sighed, but nodded his head.
"Good, now is that everything?" Remus asked.
There was silence after this question as everyone looked thoughtful. After several moments, it seemed that no one had anything to add, so Remus spoke again.
"Well, there should be a meeting in a few days, so just try to think of things that could help… anything we might have forgotten." With that, he sat down so he could continue writing on his parchment. Everyone else seemed to take this to mean that the meeting was over and started going their separate ways.
Ron was feeling nervous as he walked up the stairs after dinner. He hadn't had any time alone with Hermione since they got back, and he was starting to get an uncomfortable feeling that she was avoiding him. He couldn't be sure; he knew that she was always a little off when she was working on things, but he still felt odd that they hadn't said anything to one another. After all, they had shared a lot while reading the book.
He smiled as he remembered what it was like kissing her, more glorious than anything he had ever imagined, and yet he wasn't sure how she felt about it now. He was worried that it might have been some kind of fluke, or that she had changed her mind for some reason and now she was trying to avoid him because she didn't want to tell him.
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he nearly ran into someone coming out of his room.
"There you are," Hermione said with a smile that made his face light up in return. "I was just looking for you, but Harry didn't know where you were."
"I was in the kitchen," Ron answered simply. "Why were you looking for me?"
Hermione bite her lip nervously, a small blush spread across her cheeks. "I just wanted to talk to you."
Ron smiled at her, realizing she was just as nervous as he was, which made him feel more confident for a reason he couldn't explain. "Was talking all you wanted to do with me?" he found himself asking, waggling his eyebrows.
Hermione's blush turned a deeper shade of red as she tried to look offended by what he said, but he could see in her eyes that he was right. He leaned forward before she could say anything, resting his forehead on hers, their lips mere inches apart. She didn't hesitate to lean up and close the gap, a relieved smile playing on her lips as they kissed.