This follows on from my earlier story The Resurrection Movement, so reading that first is recommended. For anyone who did, remember that bit at the end where I said what happened to all the characters? Well, basically, forget all that: It's still going to happen but it hasn't happened yet. This story picks up a few months on from the first story, at the beginning of the next school year, with Harry and Hermione's relationship still relatively new.
CHAPTER ONE: New Roles
"Hermione, are you up?"
Hermione Weasley groaned at the voice and pulled the covers up over her head. The voice was that of Harry Potter, her friend of twenty-eight years and partner of six months. And he knew her well enough to know that she was most definitely not up. And to know the reason why not.
Obviously having decided to ignore her desire for privacy, Harry came into the bedroom they shared at Grimmauld Place, a mug of hot drink in his hand. "You're going to have to get up soon if you want to come with us,"he warned her.
Accepting she wasn't going to be allowed to ignore him, Hermione emerged from under the covers, sat up in bed and accepted the drink from him. "You go on your own,"she suggested. "I'll stay here."
It was the first day of the new term at Hogwarts, when all the students travelled there on the Hogwarts Express. She and Harry were meant to be taking his children to the station, going through the traditional ritual of waving them all off, before heading into work at the Ministry of Magic. It was a prospect that she found more than a little strange.
Harry looked at her gently, his eyes filled with understanding. "Don't you want to see Rose and Hugo?"
Hermione did want to see her two children, now more than ever. She hadn't seen them in nearly a month, since they'd gone to spend the second part of the summer holidays with Ron, their father and her estranged husband. And it was unlikely she'd have an opportunity to see them again until the next holidays. But she was aware, painfully aware, that her separation from Ron and her new relationship with Harry had caused their relationship to change. "They won't want to see me,"she said quietly.
"Of course they will,"Harry answered. "They love you." He kissed her gently on the lips and she felt a warm glow inside her. "Just like I do."
Hermione couldn't help smiling at him. It was moments like this that reminded her why she'd made the choices she'd made and gave her hope that some day soon her children would make peace with the fact that he was the man she loved. She nodded. "I'll get dressed."
It felt strange for Hermione to be making the journey to King's Cross with Harry and his children. She couldn't help remembering a year ago, when Ginny had made the trip with Harry to drop off James, Albus and Lily, while she had been there with Ron and her own children. Now Ginny was dead, a victim of the Death Eaters' insane attempts to bring Voldemort back to life, and she was finding the task of filling her role in the Potter family somewhat uncomfortable. She had the feeling there were other members of the family that felt the same.
It wasn't so obvious today, though. Whatever thoughts Albus and Lily had about their de facto stepmother accompanying them, there were no traces of discomfor as they gleefully ran through the barrier to platform 9¾. Harry and Hermione followed with James.
Hermione took a moment to take in the large crowd of parents putting their children onto the train. Her gaze was quickly drawn to their old friend Neville Longbottom, now the Head of Gryffindor and Herbology Master at Hogwarts, who seemed to be giving his wife a very long kiss goodbye before getting on the train. Their two children, Martin and Emily, stood nearby, trying their best to pretend they weren't with them. "Do you have to do that?"Martin complained.
Luna Lovegood broke away from her husband and looked at her son with a slight air of confusion. "We're kissing because we love each other. And if we didn't, you wouldn't be here. So really, you should be pleased."
Like many people before him, Martin found himself stumped by Luna's logic. "Well, if you don't hurry up, the train will leave without us,"he attempted at last.
The three Potter children went over to join their two friends. "Hey, Martin,"James greeted his best friend before glancing at Emily. "Hi, Emily,"he added, as thought it was an after thought.
Emily gave him a shy smile. "Hello, James."
Harry smiled at the pair's exchange, remembering how James had confided in him about his feelings for his friend's sister after their encounter with Voldemort's ghost. He silently wondered how long it would take them to admit to each other how they felt.
Martin was oblivious to the look that had just passed between his friend and his sister. "Have you heard who the Prefects are?"he asked James.
James had been aware that, now they were fifth years, two of their house would be selected as prefects but, given his reputation as a troublemaker, he hadn't been surprised he wasn't selected. "They didn't choose you, did they?"he asked jokingly.
"Not likely,"Martin answered. "I saw Angela Barnes wearing a badge earlier."
James could see why their team match on the house Quidditch team had been chosen. She tended to rival Damon Willis, the team captain, in terms of work ethic. "You reckon Brian Higgs will be the other one? Teachers tend to like him."
"Hey, look!"Lily interrupted, pointing back down the platform. "It's Rose and Hugo."
Hermione quickly followed Lily's finger and caught sight of her two children with Ron. She had only had the barest of interaction with her husband when she'd dropped the children off with him and, even though they were both still working at the Ministry, they'd successfully managed to avoid each other. The only time they'd spent much time around each other was at Teddy and Victoire's wedding. Teddy had insisted on Harry being his best man and Harry had been equally insistent that Hermione was his date and should sit with him on the top table. With both Victoire's parents having been killed in the battle at Riddle Mansion, her grandparents Arthur and Molly had stood in to give her away. Sharing the top table with them, while Ron sat with both their own and his sister and Harry's children at a table with his three brothers Charles, Percy and George and studiously avoided looking at them, had been an interesting experience to say the least.
Hermione hugged both Rose and Hugo, which they didn't exactly respond to but neither of them objected to it either. "How have you both been?"she asked.
"We've been all right,"Rose replied distantly. "Dad's been looking after us well." She looked at Albus. "Have you got your time table for this year?"
Albus nodded. "Potions with Slytherin again. How many subjects have we got with them this year?"
"Five,"Rose answered automatically, before reddening slightly, worried she'd given something away.
"We thought we might see you in Diagon Alley,"Lily was saying to Hugo. "We went in last week."
"We didn't get our things until Thursday,"Hugo explained. "Dad and Parvati took us in." Rose gave him a nudge and he lapsed into silence, realising he'd said something he wasn't supposed to.
"Parvati?"Hermione repeated. She knew that Parvati Patil, her old dorm mate from Gryffindor, had a job at the Ministry as well but she'd never been close to the family. "What was Parvati doing with you?" She took in Rose and Hugo's embarrassed looks and Ron's defiant one and the penny dropped. She looked at Ron in shock. "Is she your girlfriend?"
Neville cleared his throat pointedly. "Come on, kids, or the train will leave without us."
As Neville ushered their children away, Hermione continued to question her estranged husband. "Are you sleeping with her?"she demanded, wondering why the idea bothered her so much.
"Are you sleeping with Harry?"Ron retorted, nodding in his former best friend's direction.
Hermione bit her lip, realising she'd overstepped the mark. Ron looked away. She felt Harry's hand grasp her own and looked away as well, turning her attention back to the departing train and managing to put a smile on her face as she waved the children goodbye.
Neither she nor Harry had regretted the choice they'd made for an instant. But it was moments like these that reminded her just how complicated her life had become.