Diamond in the Rough
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
Summary: "So let me get this straight. You stole a magic jewel from an Egyptian pyramid, didn't read anything about it, and now we're stuck in 1977?" Hermione asked. "Sounds about right." Fred nodded. "And here I thought I'd have a normal life after the war." She sighed. "Just great."
Chapter 19: Visiting Old Friends
Warning: Chapter may or may not be a tearjerker.
Ice clung to the trees, and a fine layer of snow coated the ground. Hermione knelt before the grave with a bouquet of roses.
In loving memory of:
JAMES POTTER LILY POTTER
Born: March 27, 1960 Born: January 30, 1960
Died: October 31, 1981 Died: October 31, 1981
"The last enemy to be defeated is death."
"She hates lilies," Hermione choked on her words and Fred rubbed her back comfortingly. "Roses were her favorite."
Harry offered a smile of his own.
"Hermione's been telling me a lot about you, Mum, Dad," Harry said, looking up at the sky. "Fred too. I know that you don't remember them because of the Stone and everything, but they remember you, and they're some of the best friends I've ever had for telling me the stories you never got the chance too." His voice broke and he looked down at the grave. "I love you both. Thank you for everything."
They stood there for a long couple of minutes, each for a different reason, and it wasn't until Hermione walked down the way a little bit to another grave.
In loving memory of:
Born: March 1, 1960
Died: October 24, 1981
"Even though we weren't all that close," Hermione smiled sadly, kneeling in front of Marlene's grave. "You were a good friend. You were loyal and brave. Thank you for being there for me, and for James and Lily."
"She died a few days before..." Ginny hesitated, but the other three knew what she meant. Before they did.
"That was probably why my mum was looking through the memory book," Harry realized. "She missed her friends."
Hermione swallowed hard, tears burning in her eyes. She went to Harry and hugged him; he hugged her back gratefully.
In loving memory of:
Born: April 12, 1960
Died: August 2, 1996
"Emmy, you were devious. Completely insane, but devious all the same." Fred murmured. "I wish I'd known you more when you were in the Order. We would have been friends." He sounds so sure. Hermione's chest tightened, and she tried to smile when he looked at her. It didn't work. Fred hugged her and she let herself sob openly for a few minutes before collecting her emotions and turning to her friends.
They stayed in the cemetery for a little while longer, remembering in silence.
A rumbling sound disrupted their mourning, and they all started to laugh. Fred rubbed the back of his neck self-consciously.
"It's all right," Hermione said, standing on her tip toes to kiss his cheek. "Let's go home."
(Naturally, when they got there, Molly sat all of them down and made them fresh food, because she would never stand for leftovers.)
How are you? I heard about your new job as Herbology professor at Hogwarts, congratulations! You were always better than me at that subject, it suits you.
Hermione paused. What could she say next? How could she transition into asking him if she and Fred could visit his mother? A thought occurred to her - she hadn't seen Neville in person in quite some time. Maybe instead of asking through a letter, she could ask in person. It'd probably sound less barmy if she did that.
Would you object to having lunch on Saturday? We could have a double date, I'll be bringing Fred - I know, it's crazy, and I'll tell you that story soon enough - and you can bring Hannah. We'll meet at the Leaky Cauldron and then go to Fortescue's afterwards?
Lots of love,
Two days passed before Hermione got a response. A tawny black and brown barn owl swooped down from the clouds and sat patiently by the window.
Thanks! Professor Sprout taught me so much, I figured it's only fair that I follow in her footsteps. As far as lunch, that sounds great! I haven't seen you in a long time; Harry said that you and Fred went on a long trip of some kind? Traveling kind of scares me a bit, to be honest, but I still look forward to hearing all about it.
See you Saturday!
Hermione smiled and shook her head. He didn't even know the half of it.
Sunshine streamed through the window of her and Fred's bedroom in the flat above Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. She and Fred lay together, her head resting on his chest, his arm stretched around her shoulders to keep her close to him.
She blinked and groaned, not quite ready to leave the comfort of her bed. She sat up slowly and stretched, feeling her bones crack and her body complain at the movements.
"Mornin', Mies." Fred rumbled, and Hermione smiled. She loved how he sounded when he first woke up; groggy and still partially asleep, but still managing to be beautifully attractive. How had she never seen this before now? "Stop that." Fred murmured.
For a moment, she thought he was still dreaming, but when she looked back at him, he was awake, his brown eyes comforting and slightly teasing.
"What?" she asked.
"Thinking. It's too early for that."
Hermione shook her head slightly and got to her feet, stretching again. "Mies." Fred sat up, leaning his weight on his elbows. "Are you okay?"
Hermione looked back at him.
"I'm great. Really. Now get dressed." She threw the jeans that he'd been wearing the day before at him, and they landed on his face. She giggled as they fell on his lap and his shocked face made her double over.
"Oh you're gonna get it now." Fred, with dexterity that Hermione never expected, untangled himself from the sheets and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her down and proceeding to tickle her until neither of them could breathe.
The Leaky Cauldron was a lot brighter than Hermione remembered, and she supposed that was Hannah's doing.
"Hermione! Fred!" Neville greeted them jovially, his smile wide.
"Neville," Hermione hugged him, the familiar stinging scent of his aftershave hitting her nose and making her smile into his shoulder. "It's been far too long."
"You're right." Neville told her. "We'll have to remedy that, now won't we?"
After Neville had greeted Fred, they went to a table and sat down together.
"So I know there was more to this then just reconnection." Neville began. "What's up?"
Hermione and Fred exchanged glances and Fred began their long and frankly unbelievable tale of time travel. Hermione interjected at a few choice places, but overall it was Fred's show. Hannah came in about halfway through the story, but Hermione was more than happy to bring her up to speed.
Once they were done, Neville stared at his cup of water for a long time, a frown settled on his features. Hannah put her hand on his shoulder consolingly.
"I know it's a lot to ask, Neville, but please. She was a fantastic girl, full of energy and life that I just want to make peace with."
"You know you didn't have to ask my permission," Neville said quietly. "St. Mungo's is available for everyone."
"We know that," Fred said, laying his hand across Hermione's. "But we felt that if you found out that we had come to visit and we hadn't given you a reason that it would be wrong. Regardless of what happened in the past, they're your parents Neville. If you don't want us to do this, then we won't. Simple as that."
Hermione felt a wash of pride hit her at the maturity that Fred was exhibiting.
"You can go see them," Neville said. "But on one condition - Hannah and I go with you."
"You got it." Fred replied, and Neville smiled, the edges of his lips wavering only slightly.
St. Mungo's was still as pristine and just as nerve-wracking as it had always been. Neville led the way to the Janus Thickey Ward of the hospital in silence. He held hands with Hannah the whole way there, and even though Hermione knew that it was hurting him to do this, she could tell how in love the couple was, and that made her smile. She offered her hand to Fred, who immediately took it and gently ran his thumb over the top of it.
Alice and Frank were in separate areas of the room. Frank was staring out the window, and Alice sat in a chair by her bed, playing with something in her hands.
Hermione went to Alice first, who looked at her with a far off expression, her eyes glassy and confused.
However, something made Alice gingerly place a small chewing gum wrapper into Hermione's hands.
"She recognizes you." Neville explained. "She's given me so much over the years that I could probably make it into a wallpaper."
Hermione smiled briefly.
"Thank you for everything, Alice." she whispered. She clutched at the gum wrapper, feeling as though it tethered her to the present life that she lived.
Hermione quickly visited Frank, who showed very little indication that he knew who she was, and while they hadn't been close during hers and Fred's time in the past, it still hurt to see the distance in his gaze., the complete lack of sanity made her heart hurt.
"Come on," Fred said softly into her ear. "I think they've had enough of us for one day."
Hermione followed his lead, toying with the small gum wrapper the whole way home.
As they came back to Diagon Alley, Hermione put the wrapper in her pocket.
Fortescue's looked the same as it always had, and while Hermione always enjoyed ice cream, she couldn't seem to find the words to thank Neville for what he had done for them.
Seeing Alice and Frank had cemented the truth of what happened; Lily, James, Sirius, Remus, Marlene, and Emmeline were all gone. Alice and Frank were alive, but mentally incapable of anything remotely sane. Hermione and Fred had known them, been friends with them. The Stone of Tempus had given them an amazing gift; to know the legends and understand why each of these people were still talked about to this day. They were remarkable; people that deserved recognition.
"Mies, you okay?" Fred asked her, bringing her out of her thoughts.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm just thinking."
"That's dangerous." Fred smirked, and Hermione shoved him.
"You know, if you had asked me if you two would end up together a few months ago, I would have thought you were barmy." Neville said, taking a spoonful of his ice cream. "But now I can see how much you love each other."
Hannah rested her head on Neville's shoulder.
"That's his way of giving you his blessing." she informed them, and they all laughed. Ice cream was eaten, goodbyes were said, promises of future outings were made, and Fred and Hermione left the Leaky Cauldron with lighter hearts and satisfied smiles.
Life went on, as it does. Hermione quit her job with the Ministry and went to work for the twins, helping them with their paperwork and occasionally taking over the register if it got too busy.
Six months after they had returned from the past, George announced that he was dating Angelina Johnson, Fred's old school romance. If he'd expected a bad reception from his twin, he was an idiot. Fred only held Hermione tighter, as though letting her go was just something he couldn't imagine doing.
Hermione also restored her parents' memories. She told Fred what she was going to do; he offered to go with her but she said it was something that she had to do on her own.
Fred smiled softly.
"Okay. I'll be waiting when you get back." Hermione smiled back.
"You'd better." she said with a giggle, leaning down to kiss him chastely. He cupped both sides of her face as though she were precious, and she reluctantly pulled away.
Her mother blinked sluggishly, as though she were waking up from a dream, gasping when she saw her daughter.
"Hermione!" she breathed, grabbing her and holding her tightly. "Oh, my darling!" Hearing this made a sob escape Hermione, her hands latching onto her mother's shoulders.
"Daddy?" she asked tentatively, and he opened his arms to her wordlessly. She leapt toward him and he hugged her as though his life depended on it.
"Let's go home." Mrs. Granger said, brushing Hermione's tears away with a watery smile of her own. "I expect you to tell me everything."
Hermione laughed; everything was a lot, really. From the end of the war to her journey in time, it would take hours. But they finally had those hours to spend together, after far too much time apart.
"So who is this Fred?" Mr. Granger asked, relaxing beside his wife.
"He's…he's the love of my life, Dad." Once she said the words, she knew they were true. Her father leaned forward.
"Those are strong words. Does he feel the same?"
"You bet he does." Fred appeared from the kitchen, and at the Grangers' shocked faces, he shrugged shamelessly. "Sorry, love. Couldn't stay away."
Hermione should have been mad at him, realistically, but all she did was jump into his arms happily. She was done being mad at him, done hiding her feelings for him, and she was free.
A/N: And that. That is the end. -breathes out a sigh of relief- Holy crap. This was SO much fun to write, and I love everyone that reviewed, added to their alerts, favorited…you all made this story possible. Thank you so much!
Diamond in the Rough is my longest and most reviewed story ever. I can't express how much it means to me that you all stuck through it and read it despite the months without updates.
Is that it? I think that's it. That's all that needs to be said—oh wait!
And yes, this is the last time I'll say this in this story: Please, please review! Love you all!
P.S. I'm not even going to bother to apologize for how long this took to finish because I had my reasons. I was working on a novel of my very own, and that, combined with school work and a social life, made working on fanfiction quite difficult.
See more about this on my profile, if you're curious.
Mischeif managed. -waves wand-