Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling. Anyone whose name you don't recognize from the books is one of mine. I make no money from any of these stories. Will be rated 'T' for now. Much later chapters will likely be rated 'M.'
Apologies to my readers for the delay in chapters. My job and my life get very busy at times. I promise I have not abandoned any of my stories. I am just behind on chapters.
Chapter 21 – Many Journeys
St. John's Wood, London, England February 17th,1993
Hermione caressed the spine of Hogwarts, A History as she placed it gently into her trunk atop her neatly folded Hogwarts uniform. She looked around the now bare room. The only things that remained were the twin bed with the bare mattress, the empty dresser, a pile of rolled up posters leaning against one corner, and her school trunk. She closed the lid on the trunk and traced the Hogwarts crest she'd had embossed on it during her first trip to Diagon Alley.
"Hermione dear, are you almost finished?" Her mother's voice floated up the stairs.
"Yes, Mum, I'll be right down." She withdrew the vine and dragon heartstring wand from her pocket and caressed it gently, a wistful smile on her face. With one more scan of the room to be sure she didn't forget anything, she hefted the pile of posters under one arm, and dragged her trunk to the top of the stairs with the other hand.
"Dad, the trunk is at the top when you are ready for it," she called down to her father who was lugging boxes to the moving van to be taking to the storage facility.
"I'll grab it in a few minutes, what time are we meeting your friend again?" He called back, a large box labeled 'Medical Books' in his arms.
"Ginny said three o'clock at the train station." Hermione replied, coming down the stairs and placing the scrolls in a pile of items that would go to storage. Hearing an angry yowl, she knelt down beside the gray cat carrier and used a finger to stroke the orange tabby inside. "It's alright Cruikshanks, I know you don't like being cooped up, but they won't let you on the plane unless you are in the carrier. I promise I will have a special treat for you when we get to cousin Malina's."
She smiled when the cranky feline rubbed his head against her fingers and began to purr. He'd adopted them during their final visit to Diagon Alley last week to sell back some of the textbooks she no longer needed. He'd come careening into the bookstore with the irate magical menagerie proprietor hot on his heels, several green feathers still sticking out of his mouth. Taking pity on him, Hermione and Emily had both stood between him and the proprietor and even offered to pay for the rare magical lovebird the cat had made its most recent meal. It had been expensive, and her mother was sure the proprietor had gouged them rather steeply, but the half-kneazle now had a safe new home, and the Grangers had yet another pet.
Hermione reached over to the larger kennel and stroked Fenris who looked up at her with doleful brown eyes. Her father's Irish wolf-hound had been another rescue pet, saved from certain destruction after an irate owner had come home to find his condo torn up by the bored dog. He whined at her, a pleading look in his eyes. Hermione shook her head. "I know you hate to travel, but I can't let you out either." She stood up and moved to help her mother as she came into the room juggling a plate of sandwiches and a pitcher of Iced Tea. Hermione took the plate of sandwiches onto the porch and placed it on the patio table that would remain behind with the rest of the furnishings.
"Dad, Mr. O'Connell, Cousin Jeremy, lunch is ready." She snagged a sandwich and sat in one of the white fabric chairs, sinking her teeth into the savory taste of hot roast-beef on rye with muenster cheese. "Mmm, you make the best sandwiches," she told her mum as a glass of cold lemonade was placed before her. She was soon joined by her father, Cousin Jeremy, and the moving guy who helped themselves to two sandwiches apiece.
Egypt, Gringotts Base camp, somewhere near the Great Sphinx 3 PM Egypt time, same day.
Ginny hefted the knapsack and smiled, glad Bill had the foresight to put an undetectable extension charm, and a feather-light charm on it. Not only had she managed to fit the 3 outfits and extra pair of trainers into the bag, but she'd also managed to fit the six books her brother had given her into the bag as well, along with the rest of her worldly possessions. This would be her 'carry-on bag' as Hermione had termed it. The idea of flying across an ocean inside a metal bird still boggled her mind, but she'd carefully read the book and all of the pamphlets Hermione had thoughtfully sent to her once Bill had agreed to allow her to go. She looked over at her brother who was hunched over a large map spread out across the kitchen table, three goblins and another witch and wizard gathered around the table, discussing their next assignment.
She watched as one set of lips would move and then another would respond. Whatever job her brother had just been assigned to, was so top secret, even she wasn't allowed to overhear the discussions of their plans. She glanced up at the muggle wall-clock magically affixed to the side of the tent and wondered what Hermione was doing now. She picked up the letter she'd received from Luna the day before yesterday, and tucked it into the top of her bag.
Luna's father had been as irate as Hermione's parents upon hearing the truth of what was happening, and had withdrawn his daughter from Hogwarts. He'd even gone a step further and taken her on an extended trip to Mexico, ostensibly to hunt for the legendary Chupacabra. Ginny smiled fondly, remembering a previous debate with her friend on the existence of Nargles. Fingering the bottle cap necklace Luna had given her which lay against her chest beside the heavy scarab amulet Bill had given her, she wondered if her friend would ever be able to prove any of the strangely named creatures she'd spoken of existed.
"Ginny," Bill's voice startled her out of her thoughts. She jumped, tripping over her feet and would have fallen over backwards were it not for Bill's steadying hand. "Careful there. I didn't mean to startle you." He waited for her to stabilize before speaking again. "Ginny, I have to leave now. They want us to start the expedition as soon as possible. Take this," he affixed a small silver Ankh beside the scarab amulet. "I won't be allowed to communicate with anyone outside the expedition except in an extreme emergency. If you are ever in danger and need my help, touch that ankh and say 'Weasley Unity' and it will take you to a Gringotts safe house and I will be alerted that you need me." He smiled wryly at her. "It was the only concession they would allow, and that only because the director has taken a liking to you. When you get to where you and the Grangers are going to be staying, send me a letter care of the local Gringotts office, and let me know where you will be. I will come for you when the mission is over. Tell the Grangers thank you for inviting you to travel with them and remember that I love you." Bill hugged her, smoothing a hand over her hair. "The comb on the table is your port-key. It will leave at precisely at four-thirty, and should get you to the alley behind the chip shop across from the station." He handed her a muggle leather wallet. "This has your muggle passport, Identification, and enough muggle money to last you six months. If you need more, just get to a Gringotts. You are authorized on my account, but cannot with draw more than Five-Hundred Galleons every six months. I would recommend grabbing some fish and chips at the chip shop across from the Train Station before meeting with the Grangers. That shop has the best chips muggle or magical." He hugged her once again and then hefted his own travel bag and hurried out to the waiting crew.
Ginny sank to the floor, overwhelmed by the sudden changes in her life. She was thrilled to be travelling with the Grangers to be sure, and excited to learn more about America and the muggle world, but at the same time she was scared. Scared and home-sick. She couldn't understand why mum blamed her for everything. What was America going to be like? Did they have wizarding schools there? Would she be allowed to transfer to one? Would she have to give up all hope of ever using magic again and become a muggle? She had just barely learned how to use a telephone. She rubbed her palms across her face. She wondered how long it would be before she saw Bill again, and if she would ever see any of the rest of her family again either.
King's Cross Station, London England, 3PM, same day.
Ginny had just exited Pierre's Fish House when Hermione's excited voice reached her. "Ginny, over here!" She turned to see her friend standing beside a black Aston Martin Lagonda, her bushy hair bouncing up and down as she bobbed up on her toes and waved frantically to Ginny. It didn't take long for Ginny to make her way over to the car where Mr. and Mrs. Granger were seated. Hermione introduced her to her parents, Emily and Hamlet to Ginny and then ushered her into the back seat.
"What time does the airplane leave?" the redhead whispered to her friend as the car pulled away.
"In an hour. It will take us twenty minutes to drive there, and another twenty to thirty to minutes to get everything processed. It's a good thing cousin Jeremy drove the pets to the terminal or it would take even longer.
"Pets? I thought you only had a dog, Fenris wasn't it?" Ginny whispered back.
Hermione laughed. "We have two now. The last time we went to Diagon Alley, we adopted a Half-Kneazle cat." She proceeded to tell Ginny the story of how they adopted Cruikshanks, even pulling pictures of both pets out of a small white handbag beside her. They passed the rest of the time with Ginny asking questions about Hermione's family, her cousin Malina, and clarifying things she didn't understand about the Muggle world.
Ginny tried not to stare as she walked into Heathrow Airport beside the Grangers. Never would she have been able to imagine muggles having buildings such as this. Everything she'd been lead to believe in the Wizarding World had painted muggles as backwards and uncivilized, yet this massive complex appeared to be the pinnacle of Civilization. The building was so large; Diagon Alley would fit into it three times over with room to spare. There were stores that sold everything she could imagine, and signs that flashed the arrival and departure times and locations of each of the planes. She tried to listen as Hermione explained things as they hurried along, but she knew she couldn't understand half of what was happening. She felt overwhelmed and insignificant. Her breathing sped up and she could feel herself beginning to sweat.
Hermione, pausing a moment to take a breath, noticed her friend's distress, and, notifying her parents of where they would be, led her friend over to a bench and sat her down. "Take a deep breath, Ginny, in and out. It's okay. I felt the same way the day Professor McGonagall took us to Diagon Alley the first time. It's called culture shock." She sat next to her and pulled her into a hug. The two girls sat that way for several minutes before Ginny took a deep breath and raised her head with a determined look. "Okay, I'm ready. Lead on." The frizzy haired brunette giggled and stood up. "We need to catch up with Mum and Dad. They'll be at the ticket booth; come on." She towed Ginny toward a large desk where several lines of people were standing.
Ginny spent the majority of the flight with her nose plastered to the viewing window beside her, utterly enthralled with the idea that she was flying higher than any broom could possibly go. This was fantastic. Why hadn't wizards come up with a way to fly like this? It was fast, warm and could carry many people at once. While the thrill of riding a broom was transcendental, this method of travel made so much more sense than flying through all sorts of atrocious weather or having to suffer the ill-effects of port-key travel. So fascinated was she by the concept of broom-less flight, she couldn't have later recalled what she ate during the in-flight meal, and when she finally slept, she never even noticed the mild turbulence that had Emily Granger turning the color of mayonnaise and gripping her husband's arm. She awoke several hours later at a nudge from Hermione. "Wake up, or you are going to miss the landing," her friend hissed in her ear.
Ginny's eyes snapped open. "We are landing? When?"
Hermione laughed. "The captain has already started the landing procedures. If you look out the window, you can see the city of Dallas, Texas below us."
Ginny stared in astonishment at the endless sprawl of buildings that made up Dallas. "This is America?" she gasped.
"This is only a small piece of America. We are going to stay overnight here in Dallas and then catch a flight to Boise, Idaho tomorrow." Hermione explained.
"Is that where your cousin lives?"
"No, she lives in the northern part of Idaho in a city called Coeur d'Alene. We will stay overnight in Boise and then take the Greyhound Bus from Boise to Coeur d'Alene."
She was interrupted when the intercom came on. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are coming into Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in just a few moments. Please remember to remain seated and do not remove your seatbelts until the green light comes on. Thank you for flying with British Airways and we hope you will choose us for all of your travel needs." The captain's voice was chipper and Ginny was astonished to realize it was a woman who was flying the airplane.
"Muggles let women fly planes?" she whispered to Hermione.
Hermione nodded. "In most parts of the Muggle world, a woman can work in any job a man can work in with very few exceptions."
Ginny decided then and there that she loved the muggle world and was going to learn everything she could to be a success. Even if she was never able to complete her magical education, she would get a muggle education, and someday she too would fly a plane.
Sorry for the delay in posting. I hope you like this chapter. I am hoping now that I have the difficult transition of getting Ginny and Hermione to America worked out to my satisfaction, that I will be able to post a little more frequently.