Chapter Four – Intervention with a Side Order of Surprise
A/N and Disclaimer – This is a work of fiction, specifically fanfiction. Any characters, locations, or concepts that you recognize from the Harry Potter universe are the property of JK Rowling and various corporate interests and no copyright infringement is intended. Original characters in this work are probably mine. One or two might have shown up on their own accord, and I'll take responsibility for them just to be polite. No servers were injured in the writing of this fanfiction, and all of the characters left an appropriate gratuity.
26 May 2002 - two weeks later
The late spring sunshine made for an inviting scene as Helen approached the table where Molly Weasley was sitting. Smiling at the other woman, Helen paused to greet the young witch who was taking Molly's order as she approached.
"Marci, it's good to see you again. Might I trouble you for one of Max's excellent sweetened teas to start?"
Nodding to Molly, Helen seated herself across from the other woman, noticing the slight frown on her face.
"Molly, it's good to see you again." Smiling, Helen watched the other woman, trying to gauge her mood and see what, if anything, she had heard regarding the new status quo regarding Harry and Hermione.
While most, if not all, of her children had learned of the changes occurring at Grimmauld Place, Helen had garnered the impression over the past four years that the Weasley children weren't overly keen on sharing anything with their mother that might upset her.
"Helen, I've been meaning to talk to you, but it's a bit difficult to contact you without a floo and all. I was pleasantly surprised to receive your owlpost on Friday."
Looking a bit more relaxed, Molly took a sip from a water goblet before continuing.
"That didn't look like Hermione's owl, though it has been a while since I've received a letter from her."
Smiling, Helen graciously nodded to the server as her tea appeared.
"Flaubert? No, he stays with Alex and me. Harry was such a dear arranging for us to get permission to keep him." Smiling a bit at the brief flicker of annoyance on Molly's face when she mentioned Harry's name, Helen continued.
"Indeed, it's been since Christmas that I've had a chance to speak to you, and I thought that we could talk about the children."
"I'm glad you're of the same mind as I am on this. I think if we work together we can get things back on track with Ron and Hermione fairly quickly."
Blinking a bit in surprise, Helen bit her lower lip to keep from smiling.
"Molly, I think we're talking about different things here. I thought Ron was fairly definite in his feelings at Christmas and Hermione has accepted that they seem to be much better suited to being friends rather than anything closer."
Rolling her eyes, Molly scowled. "That boy doesn't know what he wants in life. Fortunately the two of them have mothers who will look out for their best interests, regardless of what ridiculous notions they seem to have."
Pausing, Helen smiled to their waitress as she had returned to their table. "Marci, if you don't mind, I'll just take the salad and a soup today." Smiling as the young witch took down her order, she nodded. "How is your cousin doing with her auror training?"
Marci grinned at Helen. "She says she's doing dreadful. If I listened to her, you'd think she was in danger of being dropped from the program. If you ask me, it's just the Ravenclaw in her coming out.
"Hermione and Luna were in the other day, and while Hermione couldn't tell me anything definite, I got the impression that there were no complaints about her performance in either the classroom or with the practicals."
"Listen to Hermione, she'll tell you anything she can. Harry hates to see anyone fail needlessly, so if one of the new trainees isn't up to snuff, he'll have mentioned it to her to see if she could shed some light on getting them back in form."
Smiling gratefully at her, Marci tapped her quill on the pad. "I'll get these orders in for you two and I'll check back with you in a tic."
Shaking her head, Molly watched the younger witch depart with a curious expression on her face.
"For the life of me, I can't imagine what Luna and Hermione would be talking about these days."
"Molly, Hermione and Luna are fairly close; they have been for a while. I think they try to get together whenever Luna's in London. I know she's stayed at the house several times since the New Year."
"Really, I'd have thought the situation with Ron would make for a bit of tension between the two. I'm glad Hermione isn't taking this Luna nonsense on Ron's part seriously."
Taking a generous sip of her drink, Molly smiled a bit.
"Honestly Molly, Hermione is delighted that Ron and Luna seem to be hitting it off so well. While I doubt she'd ever stoop to active matchmaking, I imagine she has been willing to share some of her insights regarding Ron with Luna." Smiling at the shocked look on Molly's face, Helen just shrugged.
"Helen, I can't believe you're taking this so calmly. How are we ever going to get those two back together if she's actively encouraging this infatuation on Ron's part?" Looking disturbed, Molly began to worry the edge of the napkin as she stared at Helen.
Sitting back, Helen took a second to think before responding.
"Molly, the only thing I have to say is 'Thank Heaven' that your son Ron and my daughter have finally come to their collective senses regarding their relationship. I think the world of Ron, but when he and Hermione were seeing each other, it was always a very chancy thing. Their friendship will long outlast any doomed romantic relationship between the two of them."
Sputtering in disbelief, Molly closed her eyes. "Don't be absurd. Of course they're suited for each other. The quarreling between them is simply a matter of the tensions from their relationship coming to the fore. Once they're married and settled down, everything will be fine."
Before Helen could respond, a peculiar chirping sound started coming from her handbag that was resting on the table.
"Molly, if you wouldn't mind, I need to see who is calling." Taking what appeared to be a large compact from her purse; Helen flipped it open and glanced down at the mirror. Looking up, she smiled.
"Pardon me for a second, but I need to speak to someone for just a moment."
Briefly touching her earring, Helen smiled and spoke softly.
Molly could barely hear a faint buzzing sound for a couple of seconds before Helen continued.
"It's just about as you suspected, I think we'll need to go with 'Eben-Emael'." Smiling as the buzzing continued, Helen chuckled.
"Tell that slug-a-bed daughter of mine that she needs to get ready." A loud pop of buzzing followed. Laughing, Helen pulled a contrite face. "I'm sorry; I didn't see you standing there Poppet. Love you too."
Closing the compact, Helen laid it on the table and smiled apologetically at Molly.
"I'm sorry, Harry needed to ask me a question and since I've been testing this new contraption for George and my husband, it's a bit less conspicuous than sending a patronus, especially since with this I can answer back.'
Looking a bit puzzled, Molly glanced at the object Helen had placed on the table.
"George and your husband?"
"Alex has been working with George over the past year or so on adapting muggle concepts and devices to magical uses, and they've recently decided to formalize their partnership. George is infatuated with cell phones, but every time he casts a spell and forgets to shut the phone down beforehand, it shorts out the phone and makes it useless." Nodding at the compact on the table, Helen smiled.
"Actually, Hermione came up with the concept. She based it upon a set of mirrors that Sirius Black and James Potter had when they were in school, and she crossed it with the enchanted galleons they used to communicate when that dreadful woman was at Hogwarts. They function like cellphones, yet they have a visual component to them."
"I can't begin to count the number of those cellophone toys Arthur has brought home. Highly unreliable if you ask me." Dismissing the compact with a wave of her hand, Molly glared at the compact as if it were some dangerous beast.
"In a magic rich environment, you're only too right. I forgot and turned mine on at dinner last Sunday to check to see if a patient had left any messages and the poor thing sparked and shot a puff of smoke as it gave up the ghost. Neville said that it looked like the aftermath of one of his Potions disasters from school."
Looking at Helen with narrowed eyes, Molly thought for a moment as the waitress brought their orders. Helen's soup and salad was contrasted by Molly's order of chicken with rice and assorted sides. Watching Helen out of the corner of her eye, Molly began to pick at her food as she talked.
"You said Neville was at your house for dinner last Sunday?"
Smiling, Helen shook her head a bit as she sampled the soup.
"I'm sorry, but Alex and I joined the children at Grimmauld Place for dinner last Sunday. Neville was there, along with that adorable bride of his, Hannah." Smiling at the thought, Helen laughed as she remembered how Neville and Hannah had been together that night.
"Those two have been married for over a year, but they still act like newlyweds. She's such a charming young woman, don't you think?"
"I suppose so, though I told Augusta that I thought Neville could have made a better match if she would have been a bit more insistent on him going into something a bit more prestigious." Waving her hand dismissively, Molly turned her attention to her herring and pumpernickel side dish.
"Molly, those two are very obviously in love with each other. And Neville seems very happy with the research he's doing with Herbology for that institute down in Somerset. Personally, I find it very heartwarming the number of the young people who seem to have found love and happiness after all of the turmoil and danger they've been through."
Molly scowled at the thought. "Running off at the drop of a hat. Gallivanting around the countryside doing Merlin knows what. And once things are back to normal, none of them are the least bit willing to be sensible. I'd had such high hopes for Ron and Hermione. And Ginny and Harry were such a wonderful couple."
Smiling as a brief flare of light surged from her compact on the table, Helen quirked an eyebrow at the other woman.
"All four of them are in careers they like, they're all happy and their personal lives seem to be finally sorting themselves out. I'd think that they'd lived up to any hopes I would have for children at this stage in their lives." Looking over Molly's shoulder and smiling, Helen continued.
"Ginny, for instance. I don't understand all the particulars of the sport, but from what Alex and George tell me, she's a lock for England's World Cup team and her team is in contention for the league championship."
Still scowling, Molly attacked her lunch as if the poor departed bird was personally responsible for some grievous fault in her existence.
"Yes, of course, her quidditch career is going along fabulously, but she allowed some foolish notion to convince her to break her engagement to Harry last summer, and the boy simply went along with it."
Smiling, Helen thought for a second before answering.
"They're both very happy with their new arrangement. And Ginny seems to have acquired a very personal photographer out of the deal, who seems to be very intent on making her very happy."
Placing her fork back down on the table, Molly set back in her chair and stared at Helen in disbelief.
"She shouldn't be spending time with young Dennis; she should be working on getting back together with Harry."
Suddenly, a cheerful voice, with an edge of steel underneath it, broke into the conversation.
"Mum, we've been over this time and time again. Harry and I are as 'together' as we're ever going to be. I'll always care for him, and there's not much I wouldn't do for him, but that's the extent of it. Dennis and I are very happy right now. I told you that last month."
Turning around, Molly glared as Ginny and Dennis Creevey were standing behind her. Holding Ginny's hand, Dennis was watching Molly with a wary look. Ginny's eyes were flashing and while she looked amused, there was a sense of determination about her.
"Ginevra, whatever are you doing in London? Shouldn't you be in Holyhead or somewhere with your team today?"
Rolling her eyes, Ginny smiled at her mother's predictability. "Good day to you too Mum. Thanks for asking; Dennis and I are just fine. How are you?"
Glaring at her daughter, Molly sighed. "I was enjoying a lunch with Helen until a couple of moments ago. I thought you were tied up with team business today."
Ignoring her mother for a second, Ginny and Dennis moved over to the table where Ginny leaned over and hugged Helen.
"It's good to see you again. Is Alex surviving working with George?"
"It's good to see you too, dear. I think you left a book at the house last time. I was going to bring it with me tonight to dinner."
"That was Dennis'." Turning to her companion, she elbowed him. "I told you I didn't leave your bloody book in Ireland." Turning back to her mother, Ginny shrugged.
"Mum, I said that Dennis and I had plans tonight, though since you didn't see fit to invite him specifically, that should have clued you in on what my answer would have been regardless."
Looking less than happy, Molly glared at her daughter. "You haven't been to Sunday dinner at the Burrow in over a month.
Matching her glare for glare, Ginny tightened her grip on Dennis' hand.
"And I told you why. If Dennis isn't welcome, then neither am I. Daddy's not happy, but he understands, at least."
Smiling thinly, Molly acknowledged Dennis with a nod before turning her attention back to her daughter.
"I'm certain he's a very nice young wizard, and your friends are always welcome at the house. I just don't want you to lead the poor boy on."
Laughing, Dennis put a hand on Ginny's arm to keep her from saying whatever retort she was preparing.
"Mrs. Weasley, with all due respect, your daughter isn't leading me anywhere except maybe to the happiest I've ever been." Smiling at Ginny, he winked at her before continuing.
"I can understand that you're not too chuffed that we're seeing each other, since we work together and all. We understand about work and personal lives and we're taking things slow."
Ignoring the indelicate snort from Ginny, he just smiled and continued.
"My mum wasn't too thrilled at first, seeing how Gin's an older witch and all, but once she sat down and talked to her for a bit, she's become very fond of Gin and my dad thinks she's just about perfect."
Sputtering in disbelief, Molly shook her head. "But Harry..." Interrupting, Dennis smiled.
"Harry and I have an understanding. If I hurt Gin, other than normal relationship ups and downs, he'll do his auror thing and find me and then tell her brothers where I'm hiding. Since I've no intention of hurting your daughter, Harry and I are good friends. Not as good as Colin and him, but we're working on it."
Smiling at the gobsmacked look on Molly's face, Helen nodded just slightly over Molly's shoulder as Ginny giggled.
"Molly, I think what these two are trying to tell you is that if you're not going to accept Ginny's choices in how she's living her life, then they won't burden you with their presence since it'll just upset you." Taking a tip of her tea, Helen smiled, "Pretty much the same as Ron and Luna, I'd imagine."
Glaring from Helen to Ginny, Molly's scowl deepened. "There's another one. I haven't seen more than a glimpse of Ronald in almost two months. It's almost as if they boy has been avoiding me."
"That's because we have, Mum." Ron's voice cut in. "I finally got tired of you sitting there and ignoring Luna, talking around her at dinner and all. I'm not certain why you're surprised since the last thing I told you was that when you were ready to wake up and smell the wolfsbane, we'd be back to the house."
Turning around again, Molly was shocked to see Ron and Luna standing where Ginny and Dennis had been standing, earlier. Luna smiled brightly at her and turned to Ron.
"Ronald, you do realize that some people are put off by the smell of wolfsbane, don't you?" Turning to Molly, she smiled apologetically.
"If you'd prefer, foxglove is much easier on the senses early in the morning, and it helps to ward off Scandinavian Wand-borers."
Shaking his head a bit, Ron wrapped his arm around Luna's waist and smiled.
"If that'll help you get over this, Mum, foxglove will do. But we're serious about you needing to let go of the past. I think I've grown up over the past four years.
"Hermione's one of my best friends, and we've finally gotten past the time we spent trying to be something we weren't. Luna's too nice a person to complain, but I'm certainly not going to sit by and let anyone treat her like that."
Looking pointedly first at Luna and then his mother, Ron held his mother's gaze for several seconds.
Looking a bit abashed, Molly turned back to Helen. Standing over Helen's shoulder, the smirk on Ginny's face quickly disappeared as Molly frowned.
"Helen, don't you have anything to say to Ron?" Helen could see that Molly was visibly trying to come to terms with the afternoon's events and not having much success.
"Of course." Looking past Molly to where Ron and Luna were standing, Helen looked at the two for a second.
"Since Kreacher doesn't seem to mind, I'm going to bring gooseberry pie tonight. What do you two think?"
Luna's eyes lost focus for a second, and then she slowly nodded. "That might be a good choice. The Etruscans used to use gooseberries to ward off wrackspurts. That might be helpful after this afternoon."
Smiling, Ron rolled his eyes a bit, and winked. "Lily's recipe?"
"Of course. Since Phineas was kind enough to go to the trouble of passing it along, it would be a shame not to use it. I never would have thought to use a meringue topping, but it certainly works well."
Slapping her hand on the table, Molly stared at Helen in disbelief.
"That's not what I meant, and you know it. What would your daughter think of all this?"
Hermione dryly interrupted. "Normally I'd agree with my mum. I'm a bit of a traditionalist and I normally like it with a 'dutch apple crust', but Lily's is very good, and since she's Harry's mum…"
Trailing off, Hermione's eyes were twinkling with suppressed mischief. Looking over her shoulder to Harry, who was standing behind her with his arms wrapped around her, she smiled.
"What do you think, dear?"
Grinning, Harry shrugged. "What do I know? Both pies are excellent, but Hermione's recipe has a trace of vanilla in it."
"An excellent answer, Harry." Smiling slyly, Helen weighed Harry's answer carefully.
"I doubt anyone will find you to be the weakest link today." Looking over at Molly, Helen shrugged.
"I suppose that answers what Hermione thinks of the matter."
Getting close to exploding, Molly looked around the group that was gathered around the table.
"Will someone please explain what is going on? I refuse to believe that all of you just happened by while Helen and I were having lunch."
"Well, since you've refused to believe everything else, not believing this would be in character, Mum. However, you're right in that we're here for a reason." George smiled and scratched his missing ear. "Helen, what was it you called this?"
"An intervention, George. Good to see you and Angelina." Helen nodded to the latest couple to join the group.
"Right you are, an intervention." Looking back to his mother, George was uncharacteristically serious.
"Mum, the problem is that while all of us love you very much, we've all come to the conclusion that you can't go on ignoring the realities of life."
Angelina placed her hand in George's. "Molly, you need to understand one thing. Ginny, Ron, Harry and Hermione have all made choices in their lives that the rest of us find not only acceptable, but seem to be smashing. The problem is that these decisions fly in the face of things you decided years ago for them.
"Quite honestly, I'm not certain how anyone could have decided that long ago who would be with whom." Grinning slyly, she tilted her head toward Harry and Hermione.
"Except for those two, of course. They were so obvious right from the start."
"Harry? Hermione?" Shocked, Molly looked from Angelina to the pair in question.
Nodding slowly, Hermione placed her hands over Harry's and leaned back into him.
"Molly, I've loved him since I was eleven, and he's loved me about as long. We both were in denial about it for a very long time. But thanks to a bit of judicious prompting on the part of people who love us, we finally stopped hiding from each other and have accepted the fact that we're in love." Seeing the look on Molly's face, Hermione smiled sadly.
"I'm sorry if that displeases you, but we've wasted too much time as it is and we're not going to waste any more of the time we've been given waiting for you to accept us as we are."
Percy's voice joined the chorus. "Mother, I learned two things the hard way, the importance of family and the pain of being in a relationship with the wrong person." After smiling at Audrey, Percy looked to his mother.
"Penelope and I almost killed each other before she came to the realization that we just weren't meant to be. Ron and Hermione weren't quite that bad, but their rows are the stuff of Gryffindor legends.
"Harry and Hermione are family, just as much as anyone else standing here. Don't turn your back on them, on family. I've made that mistake and it never ends well."
"Percy, what are you trying to say?"
"Molly, what all of our children are trying to say is that if you turn your back on part of them, they won't side with you." Arthur, looking very tired and older than his years, nodded as he pulled a chair up beside his wife's and took her hand gently between his.
"I'll be with you, because I love you and I chose to make my life beside you years ago. But our children have decided that they're an all or nothing deal. If you can't accept whom the four of them have chosen, then the rest will try to make up for that.
"The entire family has been gradually pulling away from gathering at the Burrow because they've all seen that you're not going to relent, not going to accept how things are. We took Harry and Hermione into our hearts and our home years ago, and it wasn't on the condition that they do things the way we saw fit."
Nodding towards Ginny and Ron in turn, Arthur continued. "And it looks as if Luna and Dennis are rapidly becoming part of the family, also. Personally, I'm proud of them all and I'm thankful that our children seem to have found happiness.
"Molly, you need to just be happy for them. I seem to remember your mother wasn't overly impressed when you married me, but she eventually came around, I think."
Smiling sadly, Arthur took her hand and brought it up to his lips.
"Before it's too late, before we create rifts we can't overcome, let's just be happy for them."
Looking around, Molly gazed at each of her children for a few moments. Fixing her gaze finally on Harry and Hermione, she swallowed.
"Since you were eleven?"
Hermione smiled and blushed. "That day on the train. My life changed forever in the blink of an eye. Molly, we all love you, and this isn't easy for any of us. This isn't just about Harry and me, Ginny's as happy as I've ever seen her, and I think that goofy grin on Dennis' face speaks for itself." Everyone laughed as Dennis did a credible imitation of the Weasley blush.
"And if you don't think Luna's here to stay, she's actually managed to impart something resembling table manners to Ron. I'm not certain how, but it's nothing short of miraculous."
"Always the tone of surprise Hermione. I can change you know." Ron piped up, looking a bit put upon.
"Of course you can, Ronald," said Luna supportively. "Especially when I remind you of what we won't be doing if you forget."
Laughing, everyone tried to look anywhere but at Ron who was staring open mouthed at Luna, vainly trying to say something, anything. Shaking her head, Molly looked around her as the majority of her family was standing there, laughing, but waiting for her to make a decision.
Looking over at Arthur, she sighed in resignation. "Bill and Fleur?"
Nodding his head, Arthur smiled. "Little Victoire has a touch of elven croup. But Fleur assures me she'll be spending Christmas wherever Hermione and Luna are, so you can take that for what it's worth." Seeing she was going to speak again, he nodded.
"And Charlie is planning on spending his time in London when he comes home later in the summer if things aren't resolved."
Shaking her head, Molly closed her eyes for a second. Releasing a deep sigh, she opened her eyes and fixed her gaze on Luna.
Gazing back impassively, Luna's silver eyes glinted in the sunlight.
"You've actually got him behaving like a civilized wizard?"
Luna smiled impishly. "Most of the time. He forgets occasionally, and we've decided that during quidditch and football matches don't count, but for the most part Ronald's very proper."
Shaking her head in amazement, Molly sighed.
"I'm certain I don't want to know what you've done with him, but Merlin bless you and keep it up."
While the rest of them were laughing, Molly stood up and walked over to where Luna was standing. Looking at the younger witch for a second, she smiled.
"Can you forgive a foolish old woman who treated you very shabbily?"
"Molly, you were just being protective of your son and trying to do what you thought was best for Ronald." Luna hugged the older witch and smiled.
"I'm certain Ronald and I will be just as protective of our first three children. Hopefully by the time little Cassandra is born, we'll have relaxed a bit."
Molly turned to Ginny and Dennis.
"Young man, you've been watching out after her while she gallivants around playing quidditch?"
Swallowing, Dennis glanced briefly at Ginny before answering. "The best I can, she's very touchy about people trying to protect her too much."
"Dennis, you must be a Gryffindor if you're willing to brave her temper. Her father and I don't make it to too many of her matches, so I'm holding you responsible for seeing that she's taken care of. Do you think you can handle that?"
"Mum, I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself." Glaring at her mother, Ginny shook her head in frustration.
Matching her glare for glare, Molly stared at her daughter for several seconds.
"Ginevra, I can see that I failed to teach you a few things about life. If you get a handsome young wizard who's willing to put up with your temper and care about you, you shouldn't argue with it. Men like your father and young Dennis here don't grow on trees. If you bollix this up, I'm certain there are quite a number of witches, including most of your teammates, out there who will snap him up without a second thought."
Smiling at the shocked look on her daughter's face, Molly turned back to Dennis.
"Do try to make allowances, her father and I spoiled her."
Taking Ginny's hand with his, Dennis smiled softly. "With all due respect, Mrs. Weasley, I think the two of you did a smashing job with Gin."
Shaking her head, she sighed and turned back to Ginny. "And see if you can do something about that 'Mrs. Weasley' nonsense before you bring him by the house again. If he can't remember my name is Molly, he might not be as worth keeping as I first thought."
Laughing, the group watched expectantly as Molly turned and walked over to Harry and Hermione.
"The day you met?"
"On the train during our first trip to Hogwarts. It took me long enough to figure it out, but there really hasn't been anyone else since that day."
Smiling, Harry kissed Hermione gently on the top of her head before looking up at Molly.
"We both care very deeply for Ron and Ginny, and it was never our intent to hurt anyone. The ironic thing is that virtually everyone had to notice that we were in love with each other before we could see it."
Blushing, Molly rolled her eyes. "Everyone except me, it seems. How can we put this right?"
Smiling, Hermione stepped forward, put her arms around the older witch and kissed her softly on the cheek.
"There's nothing to 'put right', Molly. No one here thinks you acted out of malice or ill will towards any of us. On the contrary, you tried to do what you thought best for us.
"As long as you're willing to entertain the possibility that the four of us are old enough to make decisions for ourselves, we'll remember that you do love all of us."
Her eyes bright with tears, Molly looked at all four of them.
"Please, all I ask is that you see if you can find your ways back to the Burrow from time to time. The house is very empty without children."
Hermione smiled warmly in response. "Molly, since there seems to be two empty chairs around the table at Grimmauld Place, Harry and I were hoping you and Arthur would see fit to join all of us for dinner tonight.
"I know it's not your cooking, but Kreacher is quite an accomplished cook and everyone seems to bring something that adds to the festivities."
Looking over at Harry, Molly smiled. "I know it's not your mum's pie, but I think I can manage to bring a treacle tart tonight, if that would be all right?"
"I think that would be brilliant. It's the oddest thing about Grimmauld Place, no matter how many desserts show up, there never seems to be any left by the end of the night." Looking over at Ron, Harry grinned.
Following Harry's gaze, Molly smiled. "I think I can see that." Looking over at Arthur, Molly smiled gratefully.
"We'll talk when I get back to the Burrow?"
"I think that will be fine. Why don't the children and I leave you to finish your lunch with Helen in peace?" Looking over at Hermione, Arthur smiled. "Dinner's at six?"
Smiling, Hermione linked her arm through Arthur's and nodded. "Everyone usually starts showing up around half four, but we finally get everyone set down by six."
Farewells said, the young couples drifted off promising to see each other in a few hours at Grimmauld Place. Finally Molly and Helen were left alone looking at each other across the table.
Shaking her head, Molly looked at Helen for a few seconds.
Picking up her goblet of tea, Helen took a sip before answering.
"It needed to be done."
"You could have very easily let me wreck my relationship with my children out of my stubbornness and pride without going to all of this trouble."
Smiling, Helen placed the goblet on the table and steepled her fingers underneath her chin.
"Molly, I couldn't do that. Your family was all the family Harry had, once he went to school. I never really got to know him while they were in school, but I grew very fond of Harry from my daughter's letters as I realized that she cared deeply for him.
"For the past four years, I've come to love him for his own sake, and not just because Hermione cares so deeply for him. It hurt him deeply to think that he might lose your friendship and love. This was little enough to do to give him back the witch who cared enough to take him into her home as one of her own."
Tears glistening in her eyes, Molly smiled sadly. "I suppose one gets used to trying to do the best for their children and its difficult lesson to learn when to leave off and let them live their lives."
Laughing, Helen shook her head. "Heavens no. That's one lesson I've not learned completely. This whole thing started with me shamelessly meddling in the children's lives."
Looking around, Helen motioned for Marci to come over to the table. When the young witch arrived, Helen smiled apologetically.
"Marci, the food was excellent as always, but Molly and I got caught up in everything and I think we'll just skip straight to dessert." Looking over at Molly, who rolled her eyes and nodded, Helen smiled.
"If you'll bring us some coffee and two slices of that excellent chocolat gateau I spied on the way in, we'll be very happy."
"You were saying?" Eyes twinkling, Molly chuckled at the look on Helen's face.
"Strangely enough, it all started with a conversation with your son George, during dinner one night…"
A/N – The author would like to make it clear that this chapter is not an endorsement of the use of either wolfsbane or foxglove without properly consulting a licensed physician, healer, or certified potions mistress beforehand. While there is no clinical evidence that gooseberry pie can ward off wrackspurts, I'm certainly not going to argue with Luna about it. The last time I did that, I had Heliotropes in the hedges for a fortnight.