A/N: OMG... I can't believe I get to finally hit complete on this story! It's been an epic journey and many of you been there since the start. You'll never know how much I appreciate the reviews, follows and favourites. You are my motivation to keep writing... thank you, thank you, thank you...
I'm hoping this chapter will answer some questions raised about Nym's place in this story... if it doesn't I'll just say this; Nym will never come between either couple because I won't write that...
When Nym took Hermione back to Hogwarts it had taken every bit of willpower she had to not immediately drop to one knee and ask Ginny right away. She had remembered when they got there, the information for Neville's parents and asked Nym to take it St Mungo's for her. They had kissed and hugged, Nym promising before she left that she would try to stop by before they left for France, Ginny watching from the couch in her bathrobe until she got up to share a hug and kiss with Nym before she left then took Hermione straight to bed the moment Nym vanished.
Very quickly her willpower was tested in a different way... this, however, was a test they were both accustomed to. It did, however, serve to help them both keep every thought from their heads for several hours, finally falling asleep in each other arms, sated and content.
Hermione woke with the dawn and immediately found herself considering asking Ginny right away. So great was the temptation that she rushed from the bed, headed to the bathroom and thought to Fleur and Luna; "I need you guys... Molly said 'yes' but I'm having a hard time waiting until this evening..."
"We'll be right there," Luna replied, her amusement clear, even in thought.
"Yes, yes," Hermione thought to herself; "I'm the one having to wait now..."
She walked back out to Ginny, finding her to have just woken.
"Want to play Quidditch today?" Hermione suggested.
"Maybe later, we should probably talk about yesterday," Ginny replied as she climbed from the bed and went to hug her.
"What did you end up doing?" Hermione asked as she went to get dressed, much to Ginny's disappointment.
"We talked, for a bit, about the meeting," Ginny replied with a shrug, then smiled and blushed; "Fleur left to talk to Morgan and I spent some time alone with Luna..."
"That's good," Hermione said with a smile; "Did Fleur mention what she and Morgan talked about?"
"Harry, mostly," Ginny replied; "He's pretty much agreed to be sorted into Slytherin."
"I figured something out last night," Hermione started conversationally, trying to steer the conversation away from anything that might lead her to want to propose. "Somewhere along the way we've learned to manipulate our magic... wands and words are used to focus a person's intent and shape their magic... I think, between learning how to skip that and the fact that it's easy for us to summon the required magic and..."
"That explains how we hid our ages without even knowing we were doing it," Ginny said as she sat, half-dressed on the couch.
"And how I somehow placed a Bubblehead charm on myself in my sleep," she smiled at Ginny's confusion; "I took a bath while Nym was making us dinner... she came in at one point and found me asleep underwater..."
"You think that's what Minerva meant when she said she hadn't taught us anything in a year?" Ginny asked as she resumed getting dressed.
"I do... and it explains why everything has come so easy to us since we reunited," Hermione replied, smiling as Luna and Fleur entered.
"What did you figure out now?" Fleur asked as she went to hug Hermione.
"That we don't need spells or wands because we have so much extra magic we've learned to manipulate it," Ginny summarized.
"Pity we still have to attend school," Luna sighed as she also went to hug Hermione; "We still have to know this stuff to pass our exams."
"So what's the plan for the day?" Fleur asked brightly.
"Fly out to the island, talk about yesterday, then Ginny and I might play Quidditch after lunch," Hermione replied then thought to Fleur and Luna; "Can you guys get the Astronomy tower ready for me like we talked about? I want to fly up there before dinner..."
They both nodded to her subtly when Ginny wasn't watching.
"Great Hall for breakfast?" asked Luna.
"Sure... see if we can't put the word out for a game this afternoon," Ginny replied; "Maybe a picnic lunch though?"
The four flew out to their favourite island on the Black Lake, set out a blanket, then laid down, Ginny in Hermione's arms and Luna in Fleur's. They had laid quietly for a while, no one willing to break the comfortable silence.
"We should talk about Nym," Hermione finally said.
"Something wrong, love?" Ginny asked, looking up to Hermione and searching her eyes.
"I'm worried she's going to get hurt," Hermione replied.
"Physically or emotionally?" asked Ginny.
"Both," Hermione sighed; "She's spread so thin... she's got us, Gringott and Amelia, her Auror work and the Order of the Phoenix... it's too much..."
"But she's the link between all of them," replied Luna.
"I know..." she shook her head; "At least she has Amelia to talk to..."
"We were talking about Nym yesterday," Luna started; "When we get back from France... we should try to get her caught up to where we are... to the same level of physical and emotional intimacy."
"That's why she's chosen to be with me first," Hermione admitted; "The four of us... yes, we've only known each other since November, but we spend so much time together."
"That it feels like we've been together for the five years we've aged?" offered Ginny.
"Most people don't spend as much time together as we have in the last year..." clarified Hermione.
"We've spent as much time together in the last year as most people do in five?" surmised Luna.
"Now imagine you're Nym and you've been informed by an ancient prophecy that you're supposed to be a part of this relationship," Hermione smiled; "I'm almost positive Nym and I spent a life together... I'm her way into our relationship," she blushed; "She needs to become comfortable with all of us, but for her to get there she'll need to go through steps... first me, then me and Ginny, then maybe one or both of you and then, eventually, all of us together... we, individually, can never be enough for her... she needs someone of her own... but given how busy she is going to be until this war is over, she can get what she needs from us... all of us..."
"She can't handle being with all of us, yet... she's committed to taking it slowly, partly I think, because she's still not sure about her role in our lives or that we're really okay with it... she doesn't want to get hurt..." Fleur added thoughtfully.
"When we're all together and things start getting out-of-hand..." Luna said with a blush.
"I think," Hermione said as she kissed the top of Ginny's head; "That until we've completed our bond... maybe I should cool it with Nym?"
"You don't have to," Ginny said with a small frown.
"I don't want to, but," Hermione looked to Luna and Fleur; "I think before she and I go any further that she does need to catch up with the rest of you..."
"What about what she wants?" asked Fleur.
"We definitely need to talk about it when we get back," Hermione replied. "But, I think, it would be for the best..."
"You're worried about her getting too attached to you specifically?" asked Ginny.
"Yes... because there will come a time when she needs someone, but I'll need you and only you," Hermione replied fondly as she stroked Ginny's cheek. "I want her to know she can count on all of us..."
"Then we'll have to make sure she knows that," Ginny replied.
"Last night," Hermione said quietly, they had all agreed to not go into details when it came to the time spent with their 'girlfriends', "she fell asleep in my arms on the couch," she smiled; "I think it was the first time she's actually relaxed... the four of us, what we have, it's overwhelming to her... and she feels guilty for wanting to be with me in the first place... and last night..." she laughed; "she was snoring softly and I realized that the dull ache over my heart never really went away all day... she just managed to lessen it for a while... I feel guilty because I can never be everything she needs because even though, in that moment I was content, I still missed Ginny..."
"But that's her choice to make," Luna interrupted; "If being with you... with us... is what she needs and is all she can handle right now... who are we to judge?"
"I guess," Hermione sighed. "I think it'll get easier for her when she doesn't have to hold back anymore... the sexual tension between the four of us..."
"I can see how that might make her uncomfortable," Fleur replied with a laugh.
"Speaking of uncomfortable," Hermione said, in a change of subject; "I found out why Dobby was so upset the other day... Rue is pregnant with triplets..."
"Why does that worry you?" asked Luna.
"She's tiny... I can't imagine carrying or giving birth to three babies is going to be easy," Hermione supplied.
"She'll be fine," Luna said with a dismissive shake of her head; "Their reproductive systems are far more efficient than ours... one of the three will stop growing until one can survive on its own..." she paused for effect, "they apparate out of their mother... and then the other two will continue growing until they're ready to do the same..."
"That's pretty cool," Hermione replied.
"I think Dobby was just really happy," Luna added.
They had sat quietly for a little while when Fleur spoke; "I'm sorry if I didn't go into specifics about what the Sisters did..." she shook her head; "The way Fania described it, the reasons she gave... they make sense when taken in context..."
"You can rationalize anything, though," Hermione replied, a slight edge to her voice. "They did it to protect themselves... they were just helping victims receive justice," Hermione shook her head; "Bottom line... we'll never know why they did what they did but it just makes me even more determined not to become like them..."
"This is about Fudge, isn't it?" asked Luna.
"It is," Hermione said with a sigh, then went to stand and began to pace; "That's why Gringott told us... they know everything that has happened to us since we were born," she turned away from them and looked towards the castle; "He told us now because he's seen a little too much of Fania in me..."
"You've learned to control your temper," Fleur reminded her.
"Maybe," Hermione replied, her shoulders slumping a little; "But am I really any better? I threatened a spider with killing his entire family in front of him... I enjoyed that I could scare this big bad spider," she shook her head; "And don't I let everyone we speak to know just how powerful I am? Make them show me respect?" she looked back to them, surprising them when they noticed she was crying; "Am I really any better?" she shook her head again and looked down.
Ginny, Luna and Fleur had a feeling Hermione might react this way, but they still weren't prepared for the outpouring of emotion.
Fleur was the first to react and went to take Hermione in her arms, but was held at arm's length by her.
"No... I don't want your comfort or your assurances," Hermione said; "There's a reason I've been so unwillingly to accept a leadership role..." she shook her head; "What if Fania was the reason they died? What if it was her temper? Or her love of the power she could wield? What if that's what led them to be hunted?" Hermione was all but yelling; "What if I do the same?"
Hermione was now shaking in her anger. She took several deep breaths and then continued a little more evenly; "I could talk anyone into anything... I could make anyone do what I want them to..." she laughed, but there was no humour in it; "The key phrase I use? 'By my will or by my wand, your fate lay in my hands...'" she looked to Fleur; "Fania used it before dispensing justice... didn't she?"
Fleur nodded slowly, her face pale.
"I'm scared," Hermione admitted quietly; "Yes... I'm trying to change things for the better for everyone," she took a deep breath and sighed; "What if I go too far trying to make that happen? What if I use my gift to make people change? What if I use my magic to scare them?"
Ginny could hear the fear and defeat in Hermione's voice and see it in the way she stood there, her arms wrapped around herself, tears slowly making their way down her face. She got up slowly and went to approach her.
She gently took her hands and waited for her to meet her eyes.
"You are not Fania," Ginny stated quietly; "That these things scare you, means you could never be like her..." she took a chance and kissed her softly; "And you have us to help you..." she paused a moment, she wasn't sure how she would take what she had to say next; "But love? You might have to accept that sometimes a show of force is needed... that you might have to use your gift in a way you don't like... the people we're fighting? They won't hesitate to use any means necessary to achieve their goals... we might have to do the same."
Fleur and Luna had come to join them and stood on either side.
"You do it as a last resort," Fleur consoled her; "You gave Fudge a choice..."
"I gave him a way out, too," Hermione admitted with a small smile; "If he comes to his senses, he'll go talk to Amelia... if someone tries to put him under the Imperius, he'll go to her confused..."
"So even though he intends to interfere you tried to protect him?" Luna asked, sounding amused; "And you wonder why you're not like Fania?"
Hermione reached up and stroked Ginny's cheek, again fighting the urge to summon their engagement rings from her bag and propose immediately. Standing in front of her, a look of absolute love and devotion on her face, Hermione knew she'd be okay. Yes, the temptation to abuse her power might never go away, but neither would Ginny... she was her constant reminder to be a better person... to not become like the bullies she had grown up with just because she could.
"When did you get so smart?" Hermione teased.
"Must have rubbed off along with your bratty behaviour," Ginny teased back and kissed her softly; "We love you, Hermione, we won't let you become what you fear... we promise..."
"I won't because you all love me... you keep me grounded," Hermione smiled and drew both Luna and Fleur into a hug with her and Ginny; "This... what we have here... this is why we survive this time... this is why we succeed..."
"We have no choice, love, we have to succeed," Ginny said, her voice somber.
"We will," Hermione kissed her forehead; "You have to play Quidditch for the Harpies and I have to stay home and have lots of babies while you do..." they started to laugh; "Or maybe just go travelling for a while..."
"But to get to that future we need to get through the present," Luna said sagely.
"And we will," Fleur said, echoing Hermione's words; "together," she added.
"Exactly," Hermione replied with a smile; "C'mon, let's have lunch..."
The girls had just finished eating when they noticed five people flying towards them. Hermione didn't need to scan to see who they were though, the red hair on three clearly identifying Ron and the twins. The three younger girls instinctively raised their magic before the boys landed.
"Excellent... you have food..." Ron said, a big grin on his face, stopping just before digging in, he looked to Hermione; "Would it be alright?"
"Yeah, go ahead," she replied as she reached for her bag, she realized she'd forgotten to warn Molly about the new brooms.
"You can't possibly be doing homework? School is over, 'Mione..." Ron teased her.
Swallowing her annoyance at Ron shortening her name, she thought to Elly before she started writing. She'd never been fond of her name, it was far too... complicated and old sounding. It was, however, unique, and she hated some of the things she'd heard it shortened to over the years.
She was rolling the parchment by the time Elly floated down to them and landed softly on her shoulder. "Hey beautiful... can you take this to Molly for me?" the raven nodded and hopped down on the ground in front of Hermione so she could tie on the note.
"Why are you writing to my Mom?" asked Ron.
"Because I forgot to let her know about the order of seven brooms she'll be receiving on Friday," Hermione replied, laughing when she saw identical looks of glee on the Weasley boy's faces.
"Why seven?" asked Harry.
"I got brooms for Molly, Arthur, Bill, Charlie and... shit... I forgot Percy," she replied and called Elly back as she wrote Mr Besom for an eighth broom.
"I thought you were just getting us brooms for Quidditch next year," Ron said, a small scowl on his face.
Hermione looked to Harry; "You didn't tell him?"
"Didn't think I should, I thought we were keeping it quiet..." Harry replied.
"We are... but they're going to find out eventually and they might as well hear it from you," replied Hermione then added in thought; "only what you told Fudge..."
"What are you on about?" Ron asked as he sat up.
"For one, Hermione and I didn't tie for the cup," Harry started; "Though, given what happened when I took it," he shook his head; "I wouldn't exactly say I won either..." he sighed deeply; "The cup was a Portkey, it took me to a graveyard where I was met by Wormtail and, what passed for, Voldemort," Ron choked on his food, his face turning blue until Ginny reached over and helped him out. "Anyway... Wormtail tied me to a headstone and took some of my blood... I, um, stunned Wormtail and he caught on fire... Voldemort stepped from the cauldron and passed out... I tied him up and came back."
"So Pettigrew is dead then?" asked Fred, Harry nodding.
"Good riddance," Ron muttered angrily.
"I'm not sorry he's dead but I am sorry I killed him," Harry said quietly; "I didn't mean to..."
"So this happened a week ago?" Ron asked, his voice shaking a little, as his ears grew red. "I suppose you lot already knew?" he asked accusingly as he went to stand; "Even you?" he asked as he pointed to Morgan.
"We didn't know," said George.
"Yeah... but I've been Harry's best friend for four years!" he said angrily.
"You were, Ron, maybe a year ago..." Harry corrected quietly, trying to hold back his own anger. While he had forgiven Ron for the things he had said, he had never quite gotten over the fact that Ron just expected everything to return to normal.
Ron turned on Hermione; "So what's with the brooms then?"
"For your safety... an escape route," she replied.
He stared at her a moment, nodded, then flew off.
"So... he's really back then? Old mouldy shorts?" George asked.
"He is," Harry sighed.
"We're keeping it quiet at the moment because he's in no shape to go looking for followers," Hermione added.
"You don't want the wrong people finding out," Fred said, nodding.
Harry looked to Hermione a moment, then back to the twins.
"You two still set on opening a joke shop?" he asked them, causing them to have identical looks of confusion; "Well... given what's coming... I think we're all going to need a few good laughs," he smiled; "Besides, you'd be brilliant at it... I want you to have my winnings..."
"Five hundred galleons?" said Fred, already thinking of all the things he could come up with up.
"You're joking!" added George.
"A thousand, actually," Hermione corrected; "Rumour has it, we're going to have a teacher that will need to be pranked... all I ask is you don't tell your mother where you got the money..."
"Deal," the twins replied.
"Hermione? Can I talk to you a minute? Alone?" Harry asked quietly.
"Sure, Harry," she replied, kissed Ginny on the cheek and motioned him to walk away from the others. She cast several charms to make sure they wouldn't be overheard, then looked to Harry; "What's up?"
"You need to talk to Ron," he stated. "I think he convinced himself that you'd be his... eventually... he thought the broom was you starting to come around..."
"That self-centred prat," Hermione sighed. "If that was the case, why would I get them for the twins too?"
"For Quidditch next year?" he offered with a shrug.
"Everyone is going to be flying the same brooms next year," Hermione confided; "But no one is going to know they're coming from me and it won't be announced until after the season starts... I don't want people joining just for the chance to fly a Nimbus..."
"Have you talked to Molly, yet?"
"Yesterday," Hermione smiled; "She said 'yes' and it was a lot easier than I expected."
"You should tell him, Hermione... before he finds out from someone else," Harry suggested.
"I will, before we leave," Hermione sighed, "Just when I thought I was done with uncomfortable conversations for a while..."
"Are you and Ginny going to come play Quidditch?" he asked as they walked back to the others.
"Sure... but catch the Snitch quickly in the last game, okay?" Hermione thought to him as she didn't want Ginny to overhear. "I'm proposing afterwards..."
He smiled, nodded, then whispered in her ear; "I'm happy for you, Hermione."
When they flew to the pitch they found Ron sitting in the stands alone, looking distinctly grumpy. Hermione, thinking part of the problem was, with her playing, they didn't need him to play Keeper and looking around at who they had though, Hermione realized Angelina and Katie were missing and they were two Chasers short.
"Hey Morgan... why don't you play Chaser with me and Ginny and," she turned to Ron in the stands; "Want to play Keeper for us?" she called to him.
He smiled briefly, nodded and then flew out to meet them and the other team.
"So we decided to switch it up today," Cedric Diggory announced; "Winner keeps the field..."
"Sounds good to us, we ready to play?" asked George.
They looked down to the pitch and saw a student with a whistle in their mouth.
"Ready?" he called up.
"Go for it!" Cedric yelled back.
The whistle blew and, for the next few hours, Hermione and Ginny were able to forget about everything else. They worked as a seamless team and, with Morgan holding his own, the other players couldn't put a team together to beat them. After four straight wins there was no need for Harry to catch the Snitch quickly, they decided as a team, to concede the field. They had, with the exception of Ron who hadn't seen the Quaffle come to his end of the pitch much, played hard and they were tired and hungry.
"Race you to the castle?" Hermione called to Ginny, a mischievous grin on her face... the time had finally come for her to pop the question.
Hermione flew off at top speed before Ginny even had the chance to nod... she wanted a moment to change her clothes and collect her thoughts before Ginny got there.
She landed at the top of the Astronomy tower and smiled as she quickly, magically, changed her clothes. Luna and Fleur had outdone themselves... candles lined the castle wall and, at the far end, there was big fluffy pillows along with champagne. She summoned the Amice engagement rings from her bag and hid them in her pocket, then took out the necklace Molly had given her.
She stood and turned when she heard Ginny land softly behind her, Ginny taking a sharp intake of breath when she saw that Hermione had changed her clothes under her cloak... she had taken a page from Ginny's book and transfigured the dress she had worn to the Yule Ball... only now the periwinkle blue fabric stretched seductively over her curves and the neckline dipped so low Hermione's breasts were barely covered.
"You like?" Hermione asked, her eyebrow raised.
Ginny could only nod.
Hermione walked slowly towards her and cast every charm she knew to ensure their privacy... she stopped in front of her and handed Ginny the necklace.
"Your Mom asked me to give you that," Hermione said quietly.
"When did you see my Mom?" Ginny asked as she carefully opened the box.
Ginny stopped opening the box, looked up to meet Hermione's eyes and smiled.
"Really?" Ginny asked, knowing there was only one reason Hermione would go to talk to her mother without her.
Hermione smiled and nodded, "Open that... I'm curious as to what it does..."
"What is..." Ginny said, confused as she lifted the box's lid with shaking fingers. She looked up Hermione, who was smiling.
"There's a note... it's addressed to you," Hermione urged her.
Ginny handed her the half of the box with the necklace and carefully pried the note from inside the lid, which she also handed to Hermione.
She shakily unfolded it, then held it so they both could read it.
"Dearest Ginny, the enclosed necklace was made by Fania. She gave it to me for our hundredth anniversary. It is no mere fashion accessory, however, and it could save your life or the life of someone you care about. It was a year earlier, Fleur had been in her Veela form and carrying Fabiana when they were attacked while out on patrol... she dropped her. By the time we got there she was almost dead... I took on too much of her injury trying to save her. We both survived, but as I'm sure you have learned by now, our gift has a fail-safe and, once unconscious, we heal much slower and Fabiana and I were in comas for nine months.
While we slept Fania and Fleur worked together to create this pendant... it will collect your passive healing energy whenever you do not need it and, once fully charged, it will save your life by giving you a burst of healing strong enough to reawaken you. For Hermione, as your Soulmate, it will keep her alive, even if she is moments from death's arms. Understand, the pendant will do whatever it needs to save her... and that could mean forcing her into such a deep coma that she will appear dead. For Luna and Fleur it will be almost as effective, but the charge will run out eventually.
When you first put it on you will notice that the pendant will open. As it stores up more and more energy it will close again and that is when you will know it is fully charged.
Hermione, from what I have seen, you are not like my Fania and I feel positive you will not make the same mistakes. I hope the timing of this gift helped, love Elise."
"Put it on for me?" Ginny asked as she moved the hair from her neck.
Hermione moved behind her, placed the necklace around her neck and then kissed her nape.
Ginny turned and looked into her eyes, trying to figure out what was going on inside her head.
Hermione gazed into her eyes as she ran her thumb along the side of her face.
"I was so afraid to say the words," she started quietly; "I knew... the moment I told you I loved you... I knew I was lost... that everything would change," she paused, for all the times she had thought about what she wanted to say she now had trouble finding the words. "A part of me still thinks we're not ready for this... how I feel about you," she sighed; "You are my everything and will always be my everything," she kissed her softly, then sank to one knee. She reached for her left hand while taking the rings from her pocket; "Ginerva Molly Weasley... I love you... heart, body, mind and soul... I am yours," she opened the box; "Will you marry me?"
Instead of answering Ginny dropped to her knees as well.
"I have always loved you... heart, body, mind and soul... I have always been yours," Ginny kissed her softly; "And I can't wait to marry you..."
"Good... cause we're getting married August fourteenth," Hermione replied much to her new fiancee's astonishment as they both went to stand. "Would you like to see the conversation with your mother?"
"She actually agreed?" Ginny asked, hardly believing it was true.
"More than that, Shy... she knows you're a Healer," Hermione replied, Ginny leaning back against the wall in her amazement. "Imagine how I felt? I was expecting to have to talk her into... I made my argument, she asked to look at the rings and then left me confused at the table... want to see the memory?"
Ginny nodded, Hermione leaning in to kiss her as she transferred the memory.
Before they could talk about it Hermione turned Ginny so that she was looking out over the Hogwart's grounds. Kissing and biting her neck, she ran her under Ginny's shirt and vest, squeezing her nipples and massaging her breasts. She dropped her right hand between Ginny's legs and began rubbing her over her jeans, Ginny gasping immediately at the unexpected touch.
"Oh... God..." Ginny gasped, her knees going weak as her orgasm rolled through her.
She turned and pushed Hermione against the opposite wall, lifting and wrapping her legs around her waist as she kissed and bit her neck. Very slowly Ginny began using her gift, Hermione rocking her hips in time with Ginny's motions.
Hermione lowered her legs back down the ground and steered Ginny towards the waiting pillows. Making her lie down on her back while she slipped off her soaking wet panties and, after handing them to Ginny, went to straddle her hips and began grinding into them.
Ginny sat up, enfolding Hermione in her arms as she began projecting to her again. Using her magic she rendered Hermione naked and starting sucking on a nipple, pulling it between her teeth and flicking it with her tongue.
Hermione knotted her hand in Ginny's hair, holding her to her chest as Ginny pushed her past, her breaking point... biting down on Ginny's neck to stifle her scream, only stopping when she tasted blood.
Hermione reached between her legs, gathering some of her desire for Ginny who had laid back down to do the same. Hermione laid down beside her as they licked each others' fingers clean.
"We're really getting married this summer?" Ginny finally asked as they lay holding each other.
"If you want to," Hermione replied.
"Of course I want to," Ginny laughed.
"I've wanted to propose since February," Hermione admitted.
Ginny took a better look at her new engagement ring, they hadn't even noticed they had combined with their Promise rings.
"Weren't these with Radha's letters?" asked Ginny.
"They were," Hermione smiled, sat up and reached for her dress, slipping it over her head much to Ginny's disappointment. "What... we're not going to spend the night up here... I have a romantic dinner planned for us..." she stood and reached her hand out to Ginny; "We missed one of Radha's letters... a letter to us..." she took Ginny into her arms once she was standing; "Minerva found the letter and an almost identical set appeared for Fleur and Luna..." Hermione searched her eyes; "You know it's not just because I don't want to be separated from you next year..."
"But that is a pretty good reason," Ginny smiled and kissed her; "But I know that..."
"Did I surprise you?" Hermione teased.
"You did," Ginny smiled, "I love you Hermione and I can't wait to start our life together..."
"We already have, love, haven't we?" Hermione asked. "Have we not shared a home for the last ten months? Made decisions as a couple? Started planning for our future?"
Ginny thought about it for a moment and then smiled.
"We have..." she kissed her; "That took a lot of guts... going to talk to my Mom..."
"I've never been so scared," Hermione admitted; "Or so relieved..." he kissed her softly; "but never has something so scary been so worth it..."
The girls spent most of Thursday collecting and packing their things. The next day was the leaving feast and they would be leaving for France the next morning. Despite the ever-present grins on Ginny and Hermione's faces, they nevertheless, found themselves feeling melancholy. Sure, part of the reason they wanted to get married was so they could guarantee being able to continue living together and they would no longer have to hide it, but Godric's trophy room had become their home and had witnessed a great many things... both the very good and the very bad. The greatest of all, though, was the friendship and love that had been created there. They were stronger while fuelled by their love for each other and that love had only grown stronger. As strange as they knew the outside world would view their relationship, it was exactly what they would need to fight the coming darkness.
The four girls had planned to have one last meal together in the place they had called home, but were surprised when Dobby arrived with a key and a note from Albus.
"Your quarters for next year are ready, I thought perhaps, the four of you would like to join me there for a tour before you eat. Dobby will show you the way, love, dear-old-dad."
"Well then, Dobby, lead on," Hermione said brightly and the four girls followed him from their quarters, finding that the magical door had deposited them in a section of the castle they had never visited before.
"We found it a few months ago, Misses," Dobby explained excitedly; "We's been getting it ready for you ever since... we hopes you like it!"
The happy little elf led them to a large set of ornate doors, a badger and raven carved into them.
"You two go ahead, we'll be in a minute," Ginny said to her friends.
They both nodded, slipped the key in the lock, and entered.
Hermione took Ginny into her arms.
"This is really happening," Ginny said, awestruck, "Our very own legal quarters..."
Hermione kissed her softly, then stroked her cheek with a thumb.
"More than that, love, our new home for the next two years..." Hermione said then grinning mischievously added, her voice dipping slightly; "What do you say we get this 'tour' over with and christen our new home?"
So lost in each other as they kissed they missed the confused redhead hidden behind them and, when they turned and opened the door and were greeted by cheering, he snuck in behind them.
Hermione and Ginny found themselves stunned when they lights came up and they found themselves surrounded by Ginny's parents, the Grangers, Xenophilius Lovegood, Rosmerta, Minerva, Amelia, Morgan, Harry and a beaming Albus. Their eyes were drawn to a large banner hung from the balcony congratulating them on their engagement.
"What the bloody hell is going on?" came a quiet voice behind them.
Ginny and Hermione turned to find Ron behind them and reading the banner. He next noticed his parents off to one side and yelled at them; "You're okay with this? Ginny isn't even fourteen yet and you're letting her get married?" he turned on Harry and Morgan; "And you knew?"
"Ron," Hermione said evenly; "Calm down... this is far more complicated..."
"Than my feeble little brain can understand?" he interrupted bitterly; "You were supposed to be mine..." he whined, turned on his heel, stomped off and left the two girls starring after him.
"I'll go talk to him," Harry said quietly from beside them.
"No, Harry, it's okay," Hermione sighed; "We'll talk to him when we get back from France," she shook her head; "At least he's gotten over the fact that it's Ginny I'm with..."
"May I have everyone's attention?!" Luna called, the assembled turning to face her and Fleur as she reached for and took something from Fleur's pocket before she could react. Once she had their attention, she looked to Fleur fondly. "Three times you have asked me to marry you and all three times my answer has been less than romantic," she smiled and knelt on one knee as she opened the box; "I'm challenging you to do better," she said with a wink; "Fleur Isabelle Delacour... the moment I realized that I loved you... my life changed. I had started to think I wouldn't be lucky enough to find what my friends had found with each other... the moment you took my hand... I knew I had found it after all," she smiled; "Fleur... will you marry me?"
Fleur could only nod as tears slowly made their way down her face. Luna slipped the ring on her finger, then let Fleur help her to stand and pull her into a kiss.
Fleur dropped to one knee, wiped the tears from her face and looked up to Luna fondly.
"I have loved you since the day you were born," she began; "When I arrived here and took a seat at the Ravenclaw table," she swallowed; "I saw you walking towards me and all I wanted to do was run to you, take you into my arms, and tell you that I loved you... that I have always loved you," she took Luna's hand and positioned the ring to put it on her finger; "I love you Luna Lovegood... will you make this part Veela girl happier than she ever thought possible and say you'll marry me?"
"I look forward to the rest of my life with you," Luna said through her own tears as she pulled Fleur back to her feet then kissed her. "I will always love you..." she said as she Fleur leaned her forehead against her own.
One by one the assembled began clapping, Luna's father the first to reach them and enfold them both in a hug. "I'm so happy for you both," he told them sincerely.
"Thank you, Daddy, for understanding," Luna said as she hugged him.
"I admit, I didn't at first," he smiled, "But something happened when Fleur's parents came to visit me... I remembered a legend your mother told me... about an Empath in her family who fell in love with a beautiful Veela," he smiled again at Luna's look of bemusement, she hadn't heard her father speak so coherently since her mother died. "You have grown up so fast," he said wonderingly as it was the first time he had seen her at the age she now was; "The path you're on... it won't be an easy one, not that your path, little moon, was ever easy... but with Fleur and your friends at your side... I know you'll be okay..."
Hermione and Ginny walked over to her father; "Was this your idea?"
"The party?" he asked, she nodded; "No, actually, it was Molly's," he said smiling at Ginny's mother as she and Arthur joined them.
"I know there's nothing exactly normal about getting married so young, but I wanted the chance to see you, congratulate you and let you know we really are okay with this," Molly explained as she went to hug her daughter.
"And you wanted an excuse to throw a party," muttered Ginny.
"You deserve something normal... and a party is what one does when one's child is getting married," Molly chided, then shook her head; "My mother told me, when she found out I was pregnant with you, that someday a wonderful young woman might come to ask for my daughter's hand and if that happened I would know it was the right thing no matter what the circumstances..." she smiled; "I didn't need the reminder though... Hermione's argument was very convincing..."
"Do you think, Mom, that maybe the Sister's influence was responsible for you always being so accepting of my relationship with Hermione?" Ginny asked.
"Maybe," Molly replied thoughtfully, then smiled; "I wish the four of you had more time to just be teenagers and enjoy your lives, but I can see that you two are meant to do that together and you would have ended up married eventually..."
"What your mother is trying to say is," Arthur spoke up; "We're happy for you and Hermione? Welcome to the family..."
"Thank you," Hermione said with a large smile; "I admit I was never as scared as I was when I stepped into your kitchen..."
"I knew, the minute I saw that Ginny wasn't with you, why you had come," Molly said as she went to hug her. "I was tempted to make it harder on you," she teased, but grew more serious, "but how could I when you bared your soul to me?"
"I know, I was a little over dramatic," Hermione admitted.
"Maybe a little, but I could tell you were telling the truth," Molly countered, "And don't worry about Ron... we'll talk to him..."
"Don't be too hard on him, Mom, he's come a long way," Ginny looked to Hermione fondly; "I think he just never really accepted that Hermione would never be his..."
"And now there's no denying that," Hermione finished.
"Well, as sad as I am to admit it, if he hadn't already figured that out," Arthur sighed; "then he definitely isn't the sharpest Weasley..."
Hermione turned to Albus, "So what exactly is this place?"
Before he could answer, however, Rowena appeared behind him, much to the shock of those who hadn't met her yet.
"This was the home I shared with Helga," she explained, the assembled coming to gather around her, "After I died Helga sealed it... I think she knew, one day, our souls would be reunited and call this place home again..."
"I thought you couldn't leave the Room of Requirement?" asked Luna.
"That room is connected to these quarters," Rowena replied with a smile, "Surely you recognize some of the furniture?" she smiled as the girls looked around the sitting room and smiled; "While most of what you have used in the Room has come from the storage room I did use some of these things..."
"Thank you, as always, Rowena, for your generosity and your help," Ginny said warmly.
"And thank you all... witnessing your love as it has grown," Rowena smiled; "It has been a most pleasant journey..." she floated off a little ways; "Come... let me show you your new home..."
In addition to the sitting room they had entered they found they had eight bedrooms... one each for the two couples as well as one large bedroom for them to share. The girls conversed in thought as they went from room to room and decided how the balance of the rooms would be used. They decided Nym could have a room to herself and the remaining rooms would provide each of their four girls with a space all of their own. Those rooms, of course, could also be used for guests if they had them.
They also had a large kitchen, which didn't come as much of a surprise as Helga had been famous for her cooking, a potions lab, a library and a bathroom even more opulent than the one they had been enjoying all year. Throughout their new quarters, however, was a sense of comfort that immediately made the girls feel as though they had come home.
After the tour they talked for several hours with their families as they ate their way through the extravagant feast the elves had provided. Hermione had noticed her parents in several different, serious looking, conversations over the night and finally found herself and Ginny sitting with them, and sipping mead.
"We've been thinking about what you said," Rosemary Granger began, "As much as we hate the idea of putting our lives on hold until all this over," she sighed; "we know our safety would only be a distraction to you and could, ultimately, put you in danger."
"We've started the paperwork to sell our practice and put the word out that we'll be moving to Australia at the end of July," continued Shaun, he smiled at the look of relief on his daughter's face; "Maybe a vacation for a few years won't be so bad," he joked.
"We're keeping the house," her mother added; "We've told people we're hoping you'll someday call it home and can't bear to give it up as it was the place you grew up in..."
"Hermione?" Amelia interrupted; "May I speak with you a moment?"
"Of course, Amelia," Hermione replied, extracted herself from Ginny's arms with a kiss of her cheek before she stood, then followed Amelia to a quiet corner.
"Dora asked me to explain why she didn't come to the party..." Amelia began.
"Because she felt her presence would be unwanted given what the party is for?" Hermione supplied and received a nod from Amelia; "I figured as much..." Hermione sighed as she leaned back against the wall; "Sometimes I can't help but think we shouldn't have pursued how we feel... I hate thinking of her alone," she smiled; "I'm happy she has you to talk to..."
"It's her choice, Hermione," Amelia replied; "She cares for you... all of you... but this... I think this was too much for her to deal with given she knows she wouldn't be able to express her feelings for you while your parents are around..."
"Fair enough," Hermione replied; "I worry she'll get hurt... and I feel horrible that I can't always be there for her," she looked over to Ginny; "But Ginny is my life in this lifetime and I would do anything to make her happy..."
"And if you could split yourself in two and be with them equally, you would," Amelia stated; "I have watched Dora grow up and she has never been loved as well as she has been by the four of you," she smiled; "It may take her time to become comfortable with all of you but, when she does, I think it will benefit all of you..."
"I was hoping to see her before we leave," Hermione sighed.
"She's not going anywhere and she'll still be here when you get back," Amelia assured her; "Until then, I will continue to be the friendly ear she needs..."
"Thank you, Amelia," Hermione smiled and gave her a tentative hug; "When you see her... tell her I love her... that we all do?"
"She knows... but I'll remind her," Amelia offered.
As the night drew to a close, the girls couldn't help but think back to the 'family' meal they had last spring. That meal was only attended by Albus, Rosmerta and Minerva. A year later and their family, and the circle of the trusted, had grown. It was a little surreal watching as the Grangers and Weasleys got to know each other and Xeno made a concentrated effort to get to know his future daughter-in-law. They found out Fleur's parents had been invited, but the girls would be in France in a couple of days and they were already planning a party for them there.
There was circles within circles... each privy to a different level of knowledge of their fates and their abilities, but they had one thing in common... their love for the four, newly engaged, young women. They were afraid for them, but even in their fear they knew the four would do everything in their power to not only protect each other, but to see that their wives were always happy.
Slowly but surely the party broke up, their parents heading their separate ways. Finally, only Albus was left and, as he looked to his daughter and her friends, he had never been prouder of her or more confident that, when Tom was dealt with, a better world would be left behind for all of them to enjoy. Her plans for the school would be seen as dangerous by many, but she had been realistic in her time line... small steps, yes, but they were steps in the right direction.
"You're welcome to stay here until you leave for France," he informed them as they walked him to the door; "I think you'll find that all of your belongings have already been transferred to your new rooms."
"Thanks, Dad," Hermione said warmly as she went to hug him.
"You have a good night," he replied, trying to keep his voice even. Hermione hadn't called him 'dad' in a long time. "I'll be announcing the new lounge at the feast tomorrow night," he smiled; "If I don't have a chance before then... have a good holiday."
They watched him leave, then took their fiancees in their arms.
"Bed?" suggested Hermione.
"Sounds good," replied Fleur.
"Just cuddling in our new shared room?" asked Ginny.
"I think that sounds perfect," said Luna.
The four girls went to their own bedrooms first, changed into their pajama bottoms, then met in the bedroom with the biggest bed. They crawled into bed and curled up together- Hermione laying on her back, Luna on one shoulder and Ginny on the other, Fleur holding Luna from behind.
"They'd never understand this," Hermione said with a light laugh, "Our families..."
"One thing at a time, love," Ginny said with a giggle; "They're letting us get married... let them get used to that first..."
"It doesn't matter what anyone thinks," Luna said quietly; "Not even our parents... this... what we have between the four of us? We need this right now... someday we won't... but right now it's what makes us stronger..."
"So we should enjoy it while we can?" Fleur offered, the barest trace of a grin on her face.
"We should," Luna replied, and turned her head to give Fleur a kiss; "I'm also hoping, the stronger the bond gets between the four of us, the easier it will be for Nym to join us... she needs us more than we need her..."
"You've sensed it too?" Hermione asked as she kissed Luna's forehead.
"She's so afraid of love," Luna said, "and I don't think she's ever felt truly loved before..."
"Then we're just going to have to help her," Ginny said with a smile; "She needs to be ready when she finally meets the person she's meant to be with..."
"I love you, Luna," Hermione said quietly, then kissed her forehead. "And you Fleur," she said as Fleur leaned over to give her a kiss. "And you, my love," she finished before kissing Ginny softly.
"We love you too," Fleur, Ginny and Luna replied, causing them all to laugh.
They settled in for the night and tried to turn their brains off. Yes, there were plans to be made and an evil dark wizard to continue baiting and eventually defeat. But, in that moment, all that was right in their world was in evidence. Through their love and laughter, they would persevere.
Their lives were unrecognizable from a year earlier, hell, three of the four we unrecognizable. What was once Ginny, Hermione and Luna against the world had grown to include Fleur and more allies than they ever thought possible. But knowing they had others to support them in their fight had made the burden of responsibility far easier to carry even if they knew, despite none of those outside the Seven admitting it, in the end, it would be Harry with the aid of the other six, that would have to face and defeat Tom. While others could join and help them on their path, only they could walk it.
A/N 2: I realize the last few chapters have raised, as well as, answered some questions... or at least I hope so. Thanks to Mylon... the pendant idea was his, though he left the design up to me. Thanks to HBT... for well... just everything, dude, you rock.
One criticism I would like to address... yes, all my main characters are gay... no, that wasn't my intention when I started but that's the way the story has evolved. I'd like to point out, however, that the characters are a variety of ages... it's also that the girl's story is so big that I don't want to add a bunch side plot lines just to even things out.
Last, but not least, I have yet another new job and I definitely won't be doing much writing at work... that being said, I hope to start the next book by some time next week and keep up a chapter a week... no guarantees, I'd much prefer to take my time and get out something good than get out something just to get it out- OMG yes I realize how bad that sounds but I can't think of anything better... My goal, at this point, is that chapter one of "The Amice Coven and the Winds of Change" will be posted before April 1st... but, you know me, it'll probably be sooner ;-)